Monday, October 31, 2011

My one fond Halloween memory

Actually, my one fond Halloween memory has very little to do with Halloween. I really detest the holiday quite frankly. It's become insane how parents load kids up on to trailers and visit certain neighborhoods to get candy. In my opinion, you can go buy it for 50% or more off the next day because they are getting ready to put out Christmas candy.

I live on a very busy street, so I get home before dark, lock myself up in the house and keep the inside lights off so that no one comes knocking. My brother brought all the kids by via the back door last night so that I could see them and had out some candy.

I looked out my window at one point to see a Corsicana police car whiz past a turning car while pedestrians occupied the street. In my opinion, a number of officers should be charged with reckless endangerment going down my street especially. Oh, but you better bet that they will ticket speeders and set up traps along my road.

But I digress.

I could get into the fact that I only had one costume growing up and was Strawberry Shortcake two years in a row. We only went to 5 houses on our street and only 2 were in the next block because we went to church with the families. Maybe I have repressed anger or something. Who knows?!

However, seeing some kids today with their orange jack-o-lantern "buckets" brought back a happy memory.

The summer Paige turned three, she carried one of those around for months on end. She referred to it as "my bucket". I don't really know how she found it that summer. Maybe her mom was cleaning out a closet or something. That was also the summer we could not get her out of her Cinderella pajamas. Anyway, she carried this bucket everywhere. And she carried t-shirts in it. All of her prized Disney t-shirts we all bought for her that she loved to wear. Her Dora shirt she loved to wear when she wasn't in her Cinderella pajamas. Yes, this what she carried in her bucket.

She would take each shirt out, laying it on the floor to display. Then, fold it back up and put it back in the bucket. No telling how many times the child did this.

For her third birthday that June, I took her to see Finding Nemo. I had to convince her not to bring her bucket into the movie theater. When we left, I took her by my mom's office at the courthouse. I had to beg her to leave the bucket in the car. She couldn't understand why I was not dragging her bucket into the "forthouse".

So, everytime I see an orange jack-o-lantern candy bucket, I think of Paige.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Spirit of Texas

The Astonishing Story of a Pioneer
Rancher’s Family and Their Mighty State

In June of 1876, a young carpenter arrived in Galveston with nothing more than a chest of tools and a desire to find work in the burgeoning seaport city. His name was William Menzies. He was 21 years old, fiercely independent and determined to make his way in the world. Galveston was clearly not where his future would lie, however, and a combination of storms, floods, a fire and a lack of work soon drove him inland. A decade later, having broken countless horses as a horse trader to earn his keep in the interim, the young man finally found himself on the banks of the San Saba River in Menard County. It was here he decided to buy a couple of sections of land to set roots and stay.

And there on the banks of the San Saba those roots reached deep and took hold. So deep, in fact, that in 1957, some 80 years after he’d first arrived in Galveston, the Texas State Legislature recognized William as one of the state’s pioneer ranchers and a leader in the area of progressive agriculture.

The Spirit of Texas: The Astonishing Story of a Pioneer Rancher’s Family and Their Mighty State (Creative Publishing Company) is William’s story as chronicled by his great-grandson, Winston Menzies, a pastor and writer now living in Georgia. Crafted from his own memories as well as those of friends and relatives, Menzies does not hesitate to weave local and state history, politics and culture into his family’s story. In so doing, he exposes the bones of Texas’ romance and lore, revealing the raw passion and determination of the men and women who went there seeking independence and reminding the reader of the indelible mark they left behind. “The Spirit of Texas is more than just the story of William Menzies; it’s the story of the pioneers who first settled the land and made Texas what it is today,” Winston says. “In researching for this book, I found no other book that tells the story of Texas through the stories of its people.”

In telling his great-grandfather’s story, the author throws open the door to the Menzies’ family home and welcomes us in. It is here we meet Letha Ann, the woman who became William’s wife and the matriarch of the Menzies clan. With love and care, the author introduces us to this remarkable woman who devoted her life to being William’s helpmate, bearing his eight children and instilling in each the same pioneering spirit and unshakeable faith that was the hallmark of the Menzies name. A living complement to her husband, Letha Ann’s own story is one of courage, faith and unflinching dedication.

Along with the Menzies’ sons and daughters, neighbors and friends, we are also introduced to a host of other ordinary folk who persisted in living extraordinary lives in order to forge a place for themselves in the raw Texas landscape. Folks like Willie Roberts, the first white child born in Menard County who, even though stricken with polio while still a toddler, managed to defy unimaginable odds to live a rich, full life on his own terms. Folks like Dr. Ed Knipling who grew up on his father’s Port Lavaca farm and experienced firsthand the devastation to livestock wrought by a deadly pest: the screwworm fly. It was Knipling who determined that through the release of sterilized male flies the problem might be eradicated. His ability to look past the problem to see the solution brought a successful end to the damage done by the screwworm fly and was, at the time, labeled the “greatest entomological achievement of the 20th century” by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

While The Spirit of Texas is clearly the story of William Menzies and his legacy, it is also the story of all the pioneers who settled throughout Texas, carving out their own legacies in an unforgiving land. It is a story that should be read by anyone wanting to know Texas and Texans better. It is also a story that those who already know and love the state and its people may thoroughly embrace and enjoy.

The Spirit of Texas: The Astonishing Story of a
Pioneer Rancher’s Family and Their Mighty State
by Winston Menzies
Creative Publishing Company/November 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9826143-2-7/270 pages/hard cover/$29.99

For review copy and interview information, contact:
Audra Jennings - 800-927-0517 x104

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The most unproductive 4 1/2+ hours of my life

I really wish we hadn't been rain delayed for a day. I think that made all the difference. I'm so annoyed that the Rangers gave up the lead how many times was it?

Plus, I didn't get my work accomplished. Fabulous.

I am not getting my work done tonight

I really am trying to get some work done tonight. I'm doing a really terrible job of it right now.

For those of you who haven't noticed, Game 6 of the World Series is on, and the Rangers are currently winning. Between my Facebook discussions about the game, talking to my Dad, texting with my brother, and Rick from work playing on Twitter to see how many times he can mention me, I am not getting much accomplished.

It's the 7th inning. What I want to know is, when is the World Series Champions sweatshirt that I'm going to want to buy going on sale?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What do you think of me?

Tired of Trying to Win Approval
and Escape Rejection?

In his latest release, author Edward T. Welch offers a way of escape for young adults held captive by the opinions of others

In an increasingly unstable culture, being obsessed with what others think is an escalating struggle among teens and young adults, leading to more serious consequences than ever before. Although everyone—whether they’re sixteen or sixty—works hard to win someone’s approval or ward off someone’s rejection, these issues plague teenagers and young adults with particular intensity. And how teens and young adults answer the big questions of their lives now will affect the direction of their adult lives for better or worse. In his new book, What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care?: Answers to the Big Questions of Life (New Growth Press, October 2011), Edward T. Welch extends hope to those weary of hiding behind a mask of performance in order to gain love and acceptance.

Peer pressure, codependency, shame, low self-esteem—these are just some of the words used to identify how young people can be controlled by the perceived opinions of others. Stand out in the right way to the right people, and you’re on top of the world. But experience failure in front of those same people and prepare for a sinking sensation in your stomach and a night of tossing and turning.

Why do you care? Why do we all care? These are questions that can’t be answered without listening to God, the One who made us and knows us better than we know ourselves. In What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care? Welch takes the big questions of life and shows that freedom from what people think of us comes as we learn who God is and who we are in relationship to Him. Only then will we be able to let go of our masks, stop trying to fill our leaky love cups and begin to live for something bigger than ourselves.

An interactive book, What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care? includes questions throughout the text for individual or group study and is especially aimed at teenagers and young adults. A corresponding website rich with controversy and dialogue,, will also offer readers a place to discuss personal needs as well as to find other resources for life’s journey and places to go for help.

“I want to draw people to the path of becoming truly human, where you are controlled by God more than other people and where you love others more than you need them to love you,” says Welch. “The result? Genuine loving relationships and the ability to make a lasting impact on the world around us. It’s a hard process, but it’s wonderful and the results are worth it.”

Author Bio: Edward T. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He has counseled for over twenty-five years and is the best-selling author of many books, including When People Are Big and God Is Small; Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave; Blame It on the Brain?; Depression: A Stubborn Darkness; Crossroads: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Addiction; Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest; and When I Am Afraid: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Fear and Anxiety. He and his wife Sheri have two daughters, two sons-in-law and four grandchildren.

What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care?:
Answers to the Big Questions of Life
by Edward T. Welch
New Growth Press/November 2011
ISBN 978-1-935273-86-8/160 pages/paperback/$12.99

For review copy and interview information, contact:
Audra Jennings - 800-927-0517 x104

Bloggers can request a review copy by filling out the form below:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Peer pressure is ageless

This post has nothing to do with the book I am working on that is about peer pressure. When I told a couple of co-workers part of this story, one of them joked about the agelessness of peer pressure.

Now, before I start today's story which is funny, you all have to promise you can read my blog without sharing with certain people. Although I have relatives of Facebook that get my feed, I am not actually worried about them. I doubt they read me anyway. I had to cut back on funny family stories at one point, but I think that has blown over.

I think that does it for the disclaimers.

So, yesterday, my mother in her hushed voice (so Dad wouldn't listen I  guess - I actually, I think she is just a drama queen) says, "Guess what your Grandmother wants for Christmas."

First of all, why is she always MY grandmother? Secondly, any time I am supposed to guess with mom, I can never come up with it. And third, - really don't want to know. This is just instinct.

"An iPod."

"Why on earth does Grandmother want an iPod?

"Sandra has one."

At least it wasn't her friend BC. I think BC was in her 70s when she gained that nickname. It's still a friend jealous of another friend's toys.

Before I can even say anything to comment...

"She says you don't have to have a computer and Sandra has the Bible on hers."

"If any aren't syncing music, no, you don't. But, if you download anything, you have to pay for apps and service to be able to download it. Not to mention she never would figure it out and the one that would do that over $200."

"It's not like she could actually read it that small. Besides, why is she always telling us what we can get her, but she never asks what we would like?"

We need not discuss her shopping tendencies again. She may have learned not to order anything off the envelop flap of her department store bill after the last time.

She really does not need an iPod.

In other family news, my mother needs to lay off the family research. Not only do I have plenty of family as it is, I think she has discovered that she has married her 5th cousin or something. Evidently she has discovered that both my dad's side and her side had a common grandmother. I find this more troubling than my boss' husband found my admission about Jimmy Carter.

Probably explains my apparent double fat gene.

As if the Branson vacation was not bad enough, next year they plan to visit cemeteries in Virginia and Tennessee. If they think for a minute that I want to tour the country looking for headstones, insanity runs deeper than I thought. The only bright side of that is the common relatives means fewer people to find.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Check out the first chapter of The Stranger in Your House

Thanks to everyone who is taking part in today's tour!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

David C. Cook; New edition (October 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B and B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Dr. Gregg Jantz is the best-selling author of numerous books, including Hope, Help, and Healing for Eating Disorders. He is the founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, a leading healthcare facility near Seattle that specializes in whole-person care. Jantz has appeared on numerous shows, including CNN’s Headline News and the 700 Club. He has been interviewed for, as well as the New York Post, the Associated Press, Family Circle, Women’s Day, and

Visit the author's website.


He’s in his room for days at a time and barely responds when I talk to him. She’s teary every day, one minute demanding I tend to her needs and the next minute demanding I leave her alone. What’s going on with your teenager? Is it just the ups and downs of adolescence, or is it something more? In Dr. Gregg Jantz’s new book, The Stranger in Your House, parents will learn to distinguish between normal adolescent behavior and clinical depression.

Few things strike fear into the hearts of parents more than the approaching adolescence of their children. They have heard horror stories from family and friends about what it was like with their kids and dread the unknown. Will their happy-go-lucky child turn into some sort of a sullen monster? Will the childhood skirmishes of yesterday turn into open teenage warfare?

The roller coaster of adolescence is so prevalent, so stereotypical in some ways, that it has developed into a sort of cultural shorthand. Just say the words “teen angst” to a group of parents of adolescents and heads will nod. It’s a universal catch-phrase for anything from explosive anger to all-is-lost despair. Even kids who weather their teenage years with relative calm still undergo their seasons of adolescent squalls. With all of that swirling around in our heads, how can we know if our teen’s season of discontent is just that or something more?

Depression has the ability to derail a teenager’s progress toward healthy adulthood while confusing and frustrating parents. With years of experience, Dr. Jantz will answer the hard questions about the most critical season of your child’s life:

Is this “just a phase,” or is it clinical depression?
How do hormones affect my teen’s behavior—and what can I do about it?
How can I get help when I see the warning signs of suicidal thoughts?
Why does my teenager seem to need me some days and hate me other days?
How can I be a source of peace in my child’s life, especially when I feel stormy too?

The Stranger in Your House will help parents to push beyond the closed door that is adolescence and open the door to hope.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (October 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434766225
ISBN-13: 978-1434766229


Who Are You, and What Have You Done with My Child?

He’s in his room for what seems like days, emerging periodically and answering questions with sullen, monosyllabic responses.

She’s moody, teary, and irritable, one minute demanding you drop everything to tend to her needs and the next minute demanding you just leave her alone!
He’s not going out for tennis this year, even though he did well last year. When you ask him why, he can’t really give you an answer, other than he’s not interested anymore. As you think about it, there are a lot of

things he just doesn’t seem that interested in anymore. He seems to fill up his time somehow, but you’re not sure with what. When he was younger, his life was an open book; now, he’s closed the cover and locked you out.
She’s constantly negative—about everything. Nothing ever goes right; she never looks right; you never act right. She used to be a fairly happy kid, but now she’s just difficult to be around, which kind of works

out because you hardly ever see her anyway.

He complains about headaches and not feeling well. It’s hard to get him up in the morning to go to school. If he could sleep until noon every day, you think he would, and suspect he does when you need to leave early for work.
She’s rarely at the dinner table anymore. Instead, she says she’s already eaten, grabs a bag of chips and a soda, and goes to her room. When you ask her about it, she says she’s too busy to spend time with the family and prefers to work in her room, but you’re not exactly sure what she’s doing in there.

He used to spend hours chattering away about all sorts of things; you used to spend time together. Now, having a root canal seems higher on his priority list than spending any time with you.

As sure as she is that she’d really rather not spend time with the family anymore, that seems to be all she’s sure about. It takes her what seems like hours to get dressed in the morning, her chair piled high with discarded outfits. She doesn’t know what she wants to do or what she wants to eat, and getting her to sit down to do her homework is almost unbearable.
You know he’s got clean clothes because you do the laundry, but he seems to constantly wear the same clothes you could swear he went to bed in. His hair is never combed, and you’re worried about how often he’s doing things like brushing his teeth and wearing deodorant. He never seems to stand still long enough for you to really tell. Instead, you see more of his backside leaving than anything else about him.
You’re living on pins and needles, wanting to maintain family rules and responsibilities for the sake of the younger kids, but it’s sheer torture to get any sort of commitment from her to do her chores. She always

promises to do them later, but, somehow, that later never seems to happen. It’s often more tiring to keep asking her to do her chores, so you end up just doing them yourself.

Sunday mornings are even worse than weekday mornings. Getting him up and ready for church hardly seems worth it. He used to go willingly, but now there’s always a reason why not. Just getting him in the car is a thirty-minute argument.
All of this wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t get that sense in your gut that your teen is unhappy. It’s as if he or she walks around in a swirling cloud of discontent, frustration, and irritation. Sometimes it’s so thick you have trouble making out the person inside. It hurts because that person is still your child, no matter the age.
Rough Ride
Few things strike fear into the heart of parents more than the approaching adolescence of their children. They’ve heard horror stories from family and friends, and they dread the fear of the unknown and how

it’s going to go with their own kids. Will that happy-go-lucky child turn into some sort of a sullen monster? Will the childhood skirmishes of yesterday turn into open warfare? Will the days of having

their friends over all the time turn into years of going out to be with friends somewhere else?
Most of us can remember feeling awkward, unattractive, anxious, and overwhelmed as teenagers. We remember living under our own swirling cloud of discontent, especially with our parents and with our own bodies. Sometimes it seemed like we lived in a box, with all four sides pressing inward, squeezing us. Other times, we just wanted to explode out of that box. For several years, our lives were a roller coaster: It was a wild ride, terrifying and exhilarating. As parents, it’s not something we necessarily look forward to repeating with our own kids.

The roller coaster of adolescence is so prevalent, so stereotypical in some ways, it’s developed into a sort of cultural shorthand. Just say the words teen angst to a group of parents of adolescents, and heads will nod. It’s a universal catchphrase for anything from explosive anger to all-is-lost despair. Even kids who weather their teenage years with relative calm still undergo times of double loops with gut-wrenching climbs and terrifying falls because no one is totally immune to adolescence—or life, for that matter.
You knew this ride was coming. Most of you willingly got in line years ago, when you took that sweet, beautiful baby home from the hospital. It’s been years in the making, but now you’re once again in the midst of that tumultuous phase of life known as adolescence. But this time it’s not you in the driver’s seat; you’re along for the ride, but how high you climb and how far you fall are no longer merely

dependent upon you. Just when you thought you were supposed to be carefully “letting go,” your child’s behavior does nothing but make you want to hang on tighter—or sometimes it makes you seriously

consider letting go altogether from sheer exasperation. It was hard enough, frankly, to survive your own teenage years; how are you supposed to help your child survive his or hers?

It’s a weird time of life for a parent. You’re still responsible for your teenager physically, morally, and certainly financially; but your teen is taking on, trying on, and experimenting with more and more of his or her own responsibility. How far should that experimentation go? How far is far enough, and when it is too far?

But what if your teen is experiencing more than just the normal ups and downs of adolescence? How can you tell? More than likely, all you’ve got to go on is what you experienced yourself as a teen, but is that really the baseline you should use with your own teen? What if there are fewer and fewer ups and more and more downs? Is your teenager in a “phase,” or has that “phase” spiraled into something more serious? As a parent, you’re expected to know the difference—without any training and while you’re in the midst of the moment yourself. You’re supposed to be able to diagnose a teenager who makes it his or her life mission to give you as little personal information as possible. This doesn’t appear to be a recipe for success.

None of us want our kids to be miserable as they’re transitioning from child to adult. And none of us, frankly, want to be miserable ourselves, weathering an incessant barrage of teenage moods and behaviors. Navigating this time of life can be complicated, and it’s perfectly reasonable to reach out for some answers and some help. That’s what this book is designed to do. It’s written to provide you with information so you can better understand
• what your teenager’s behavior means;

• when to relax and ride the wave of a teenage phase without pushing the panic button yourself;
• how teenagers get off track and how to help them get back on the right track;
• how to know if behavior reflects “just being a teen” or if it’s something more serious like clinical

• what behaviors you can work with and which ones you can’t;

• how to help your teen understand the Goddesigned future and promise waiting at his or her cusp of adulthood;

• when it’s time to get your teen professional help and how to choose the option best for your family

and situation.
As a professional counselor for well over twenty-five years, I’ve devoted a good portion of my practice to working with teenagers. I’ve found them to be amazingly forthright and courageous, while at the same time vulnerable and confused. Often, they are doing what seems best to them to address their situation. Unfortunately, they often turn to risky and destructive behaviors as coping strategies through this turbulent time. When these coping behaviors end up taking on an ugly life of their own, the roller-coaster ride turns very dangerous. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Teenagers are on the cusp of their future. They’re still grounded in childhood but can easily see adulthood just off in the distance. They’re chomping at the bit to grow up and dragging their feet at the same time. Teenagers are on a mission toward that adulthood in the distance; they just need help navigating the path. You can’t take the steps for them, but you can help make the way clearer. It’s important to their development that they navigate this journey well and on their own, supported by you.
Detours at this age have long-range consequences. Closing the bedroom door—either as the teen or as the parent—on the problem isn’t going to make it go away. As a parent, you need to be ready to assist, even if your teen insists he or she absolutely does not want your help. This isn’t meddling; it’s parenting.

Because teenagers see themselves differently and consequently see parents differently, your commitment to your teen’s future is more complicated. When he stubbed his toe on the sidewalk curb at four and a half, a kiss, a hug, and a cartoon Band-Aid did the trick. When he stubs his heart on his first romantic rejection, it’s a little more complicated. When she refused to like the outfit you picked out for her at five, you had others to choose from. When she refuses to like herself at thirteen, it’s a little more complicated.

When it became a contest of wills with him at eight, you could win and still get a hug at the end of the evening. When it’s a contest of wills at fifteen and there’s no way he’s prepared to give in to you at

all, it’s a little more complicated. When she was ten and you wanted to spend time together, there was nothing she wanted to do more. When she’s sixteen and you want to spend time together and she just

looks at you with shocked disbelief and adopts a when-hell-freezesover expression, it’s a little more complicated.

Each phase of life has its own challenges. Parenting has never been for the weak-stomached (especially during the early years), the fainthearted, or the halfway committed. It can be tempting to take a backseat when your kid hits the teen years, figuring you’ve done the bulk of your work and you can just coast into his or her adulthood on all your previous parenting momentum. You’re older, more tired, and your less-than-active participation in their lives pretty much seems what teenagers want anyway. It’s tempting, yes, but don’t give in. You’re still the parent; you’re still the adult, and you still have work to do. Even if it doesn’t seem that way, your teenager desperately longs to be connected to you. He or she needs (notice I didn’t say wants) your acceptance, acknowledgment, and approval. No matter how much they argue to the contrary, teenagers—including yours—do not have life figured out yet. They don’t need you to live their lives for them, but they do need your guidance and your support, even when that’s the furthest thing from their minds and hearts.
And when that roller coaster goes off track, teenagers need someone to notice and take immediate steps to get things on the right path. Partnering together with your teenager to successfully navigate adolescence is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. It also has the outrageous potential to be the most rewarding.

Bringing It Home
When you think about your child becoming or being a teenager, what three words or phrases come mostly quickly to mind?


For each one, identify a specific incident or event that gives this feeling such validity in your mind. Please keep in mind that this could be something from your own adolescence that you’re

projecting onto your teenager.

If the attitude of parents of teenagers could be culled down to a single word, it could be concerned. Do any of the three words you’ve written above fall into a concerned or fear category? If they do, what are you concerned or fearful about?

In order to help remind you that all of this work and effort is worth it, I’d like you to create a photomontage of the teen in question, using at least five photographs of your child, ranging from infancy to the present. How you create the montage and where you put it is up to you, as long as it’s easily accessible. Here are some ideas, or you can come up with your own: a framed collection on your nightstand, a rotating screen saver on your computer, downloads on your cell phone, or simply individual photos in your purse or wallet. How you access them isn’t as important as looking at them regularly. You need to remember and remind yourself that all of this is worth it and that you love your adolescent, even when his or her behavior seems specifically designed to call that love into serious question.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who's watching the World Series?

I sure do wish I had tickets to the World Series this weekend. Something is holding me back from paying $250+ even though I forked out quite a chunk for Opening Day tickets this year.

It's the 5th inning, and the cable went out at my parents' house. Dad should be over here any second.

I must say that I don't have the faith of Ron Washington in C.J. Wilson. If I were the manager, I would have put Ogando back in the rotation and started him. But, that's just me. Who else is watching with me?

Go Rangers!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Preview of Sunrise on the Battery

Thanks to everyone who took part in today's tour!

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:

Thomas Nelson (October 11, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B and B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


With a B.A. in English Literature from Hollins University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, Hart serves as an inspirational speaker and creative writing instructor at conferences, retreats, schools, libraries and churches across the country, and she is the recipient of two national teaching
awards from Scholastic, Inc. and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. She lives with her husband, composer Edward Hart, and their family in Charleston.

Visit the author's website.


She wanted her husband to attend the town’s society-driven church.

God answered her prayer in a radical way.

An emptiness dogs Mary Lynn Scoville. But it shouldn’t. After all, she’s achieved what few believed possible. Born in the rural south, she has reached the pinnacle of worldly success in Charleston, South Carolina. Married to a handsome real estate developer and mother to three accomplished daughters, Mary Lynn is one Debutante Society invitation away from truly having it all. And yet, it remains—an emptiness that no shopping trip, European vacation, or social calendar can fill.

When a surprise encounter leads her to newfound faith, Mary Lynn longs to share it with her husband. But Jackson wrote God off long ago. Mary Lynn prays for him on Christmas Eve...and her husband undergoes a life-altering, Damascus Road experience. As Jackson begins to take the implications of the Gospel literally, Mary Lynn feels increasingly isolated from her husband...and betrayed by God. She only wanted Jackson beside her at church on Sunday mornings, not some Jesus freak who evangelizes prostitutes and invites the homeless to tea.

While her husband commits social suicide and the life they worked so hard for crumbles around them, Mary Lynn wonders if their marriage can survive. Or if perhaps there really is a more abundant life that Jackson has discovered, richer than any she’s ever dreamed of.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 11, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595542000
ISBN-13: 978-1595542007


Mary Lynn Scoville

December 24, 2009

It was the morning before Christmas, and Mary Lynn was preparing for her sunrise jog around the tip of the Charleston Peninsula. She stretched her thighs and calves in the gray light of her piazza, then bounded out of her South Battery home, traveling west toward the coast guard station like she did every morning as part of her effort to “finally get back in shape” since her fortieth birthday, six short months ago.

By the time she reached Tradd Street, the gray had turned to a soft, creamy light, and she hung a left and rounded the corner onto Murray Boulevard where she traced the west tip of the peninsula as buoys bobbed in the churning water of the harbor and pelicans—beak first, wings pulled tight against their large prehistoric bodies—dove for breakfast in a thrilling kind of free fall.

At her husband Jackson’s strong suggestion, she stayed clear of the darkened cars parked along the edge of the waterway leading up to White Point Gardens. Unseemly characters gathered along the water’s edge at night and often fell asleep there, not to mention the handful of homeless folks who made their berths on park benches. There had been a murder in one of the cars last year as well as a rape, but the light was too high in the sky for any of that now. As her friend from her bluegrass days, Scottie Truluck, boldly proclaimed the day after someone broke into her house and took off with her laptop and her sterling silver tea set, you couldn’t let fear get in the way of your city life.

Mary Lynn hit her stride, as usual, at the High Battery as a lone sailboat with little blinking white Christmas lights encircling its mast pushed through the choppy water. She felt her heart rate rising and she became conscious of her breathing, so she attempted to take her mind off of her workout and the pounding of the pavement on her knees by going through her to-do list for the day as she passed the Carolina Yacht Club where Jackson had been offered a membership after his second time through the application process. Hot dog! An invitation to join this exclusive, tight-knit club was a kind of proof that they had been officially accepted by Charleston society. Not an easy feat in this historic southern city that, after two brutal wars and a depression that stretched on for half a century, had good reason to be wary of outsiders. Of course, they both knew they had Mark Waters—an older friend with hometown ties—to thank for this and many of the doors that had been opened to them.

Still, Mark didn’t run the entire city (especially not the old-Charleston set) no matter how deep his pockets, and the yacht club membership meant that they had finally passed some sort of insider’s test after their move to the city ten years ago. And that, along with the invitation Mary Lynn received last year to join the Charlestowne Garden Club and another to serve as chairman of the board of the old and prestigious Peninsula Day School, made her feel like this truly was their home. Their real home. She smiled even as she panted. She and Jackson, two country bumpkins from Meggett, South Carolina, were somehow making their way into Charleston society. Who’d have ever thunk it?

But that wasn’t even the primary goal for Jackson, who was the sharpest, most focused man Mary Lynn had ever known. The real goal for him (and he had written it down and asked her to put it in her jewelry box in an envelope marked “family mission statement”) was to give their three girls the life he and Mary Lynn never had. This meant a top-rate education, exposure and immersion in the fine arts, and frequent opportunities to see the big wide world beyond the Carolina lowcountry or the United States for that matter.

“Not just education, baby—cultivation,” he would say as they lay side by side in their four-poster antique bed purchased on King Street for a pretty penny, Jackson resting some classic novel he should have read in high school on his chest. Then Mary Lynn would look up from the Post and Courier or Southern Living or lately, the little black leather Bible Scottie had given her after the birthday luncheon meltdown, and smile.

Every time Mary Lynn and Jackson discussed their children, she had an image of her husband tilling the soil of their daughters’ minds and dropping down the little seeds like he did every spring growing up on his daddy’s farm. “Just like the tomaters, darlin’,” he’d say in his exaggerated country accent. “Only now it is little intellects that will one day be big as cantaloupes!”

A pretty lofty mission. But a worthy one, Mary Lynn supposed. Though sometimes she grew nervous that he rode the girls too hard with their school work and over scheduled them with extracurricular activities—strings lessons, writing workshops, ballet, and foreign language. They sure didn’t have much time to lollygag or linger or strike out on an adventure as she had as a child roaming the corn fields on her uncle’s farm, climbing trees, building forts, or spending the night in a sleeping bag beneath a blanket of stars. Despite her mama’s missteps and mean old Mrs. Gustafson, who made sure the whole town knew every little detail about them, Mary Lynn had a sanctuary on her uncle’s farm. Much of her childhood she was ignorantly blissful of all the trouble and the gossip that surrounded her family as she played hide-and-seek in the corn husks with her mama, running fast through the papery leaves that gently slapped her face. Then crouching down as she heard the sweet voice of her only parent call, “Ready or not, here I come!”

But Mary Lynn had to acknowledge the fruit of Jackson’s labors. Thanks to his staying after them, the girls were well on their way to mastering a stringed instrument and they could carry on a conversation (and for their oldest, read a novel) in French and Spanish. Imagine!

Who would have guessed the upward turn their lives would take after Jackson’s daddy’s death revealed the little real estate gems up and down the South Carolina coast he had inherited from a great uncle? The timing was right and Jackson had been shrewd. He turned to Mark Waters, who showed him just how to go about it. This was in the early ’90s, well before the economic downturn, and Jackson sold each piece of property for five and even ten times what his great uncle had paid for it. Then he bought more land, bought several low-end housing projects Mark introduced him to, invested in some of Mark’s big commercial and condo development ventures, and did the same year-in and year-out for more than a decade as the market soared.

“Boy, you picked wisely,” Mama had said the first time she came to visit them at their new home on South Battery. She narrowed her eyes and looked up at Mary Lynn. “’Course I thought Mark was going to gnash his teeth when he got a gander at the skinny farm boy you had fallen for.”

“Mama, Mark was married by that point.”

“Not that nuptials ever meant much to the Waters clan.” She winked, then shook her head. Mary Lynn guessed her mama was thinking of her own engagement to Mark’s father, who had proposed after she ran his office for years. They never did make it to the altar. “But you saw something in Jackson no one else took the time to see, smart girl.” Then she walked carefully over to the portrait of some eighteenth-century British gentleman that their decorator had insisted they purchase for the foyer, rubbed the corner of its gilded frame, and shook her head in disbelief before turning back. “You saw the man in the boy, didn’t you?”

Mary Lynn had smiled. Then she walked over and kissed her mama’s made-up cheek. It felt cool like putty.

“I was just lucky, Mama.” And that was the truth. Jackson was the only boy in town she ever dated, though Mark Waters had told her more than once he’d wait for her to grow up. Of course, she wasn’t surprised that he didn’t.

Her mama had nodded her head as she walked into the foyer and rested her hand on the grand staircase’s large pineapple finial. Then she gazed up the three flights of intricately trimmed hardwood stairs, clucked her tongue, and said, “Everybody gets lucky sometimes, I reckon.”

Now if Jackson stuck with Mark and played it right, he might not have to work for the rest of his life, and he and Mary Lynn would leave a pretty penny to their girls someday. With financial security and intellects as big as cantaloupes, what more could their daughters need?

But back to the to-do list. Mary Lynn still had a few presents to wrap, and she needed to polish the silver serving pieces for the “show and tell” tea party they had hosted every Christmas afternoon for the last eight years. Jackson, who had taken up the cello a few years ago, was trying to get their three daughters to perform a movement from a Haydn string quartet (Opus 20, no. 4 in D major, second movement to be exact), and he had played the slow and somber piece on the CD player so many times over the last month that Mary Lynn found that she was waking up from her sleep with the notes resounding in her head.

She’d never really known of Haydn; she never knew a lick about classical music until they moved to Charleston and started going to the symphony and the Spoleto Festival events. Eventually they became supporters of the symphony and the College of Charleston’s music department, and now she found she could recognize a few pieces by ear, though in all honesty, she always daydreamed when she went to a concert. Sometimes it would be over, the audience would be standing for their ovation, and she’d be lost in thought about shelling butter beans on the back porch with Aunt Josey or sitting by Uncle Dale in the rocking chairs as he tuned his mandolin before they started in on “Man of Constant Sorrow” or “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” with him singing low and Mary Lynn singing the dissonant high lonesome sound while she twirled and twirled around. Uncle Dale said she had a voice that was pure sugar and more moves than a croker sack full of eels. And once when Mark Waters and his daddy, Cecil, were over, Cecil teared up over the singing and the twirling and then insisted on underwriting voice and guitar lessons from a famous country music writer who had settled in Charleston. Mary Lynn and her mother drove the fifty minutes into town for the next seven years until she graduated with two offers: one from her guitar instructor to join his newly formed bluegrass band as the lead singer, and an academic scholarship to USC-Beaufort. Since she was smart enough even then to know that an eighteen-year-old girl didn’t need to be traveling in a band, and since Jackson had proposed on bended knee, she did what felt right to her heart: she chose the scholarship and married her sweetheart.

But on those mornings when she dropped the kids off at school and had to run a few errands, she turned back to the radio station she grew up listening to, an old blend of rock ‘n’ roll and country and bluegrass, and tapped along to Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash or the Stanley Brothers as she drove through the historic streets with her windows rolled up as if she were in her own secret time capsule, transporting herself back to when she was thirteen, dancing and twirling with her mama to “Return to Sender” on the screened porch as Aunt Josey and Uncle Dale clapped and laughed.

Catherine and Lilla, Mary Lynn’s oldest girls, both played violin, and Casey, the baby by five years, played the viola. Their family quartet sounded all right, except for the cello, which made an occasional alley cat screech when Jackson came at it a little off angle. She imagined they’d be practicing all day to get it right for tomorrow’s performance.

The sun was beginning to warm Mary Lynn’s back when she turned from East Bay Street onto Broad where she planned to sprint all-out to Meeting Street, then stop and walk briskly home the rest of the way, her hands raised and clasped behind her head, her heart pounding, then slowing moment by moment as the brisk air chilled her sweaty body to the bone. What a way to wake up! She loved it. And she had shed twelve of the fifteen pounds she had been trying to get rid of since her big birthday.

But this morning, just after she bounded at full speed across Church Street and back onto the uneven sidewalk of Broad Street, the front tip of her left running shoe caught for a split second in a crooked old grate so that when she slammed her right foot down and lunged at a sharp angle to keep herself from somersaulting, she heard a tear just below the back of her knee and a pain blasted through her calf as though she had been shot at close range.

“Agh!” she screamed, falling hard on her side and grasping the back of her right leg.

She knew what had happened, and she wasn’t sure if it was her knowledge or the pain that was causing the intense wave of nausea. She spit and attempted to will her stomach to settle down as her aching muscle throbbed.

The injury, she was sure, was tennis leg, a rupture of the calf muscle on the inside of the leg. She had suffered the same kind of tear in the same place two other times before. Once when Scottie had taken her to a Joni Mitchell concert in Atlanta and she had danced a little too hard to “California,” and just two years ago, when she was standing on the top of her living room sofa, hanging a new set of silk drapes hours before hosting a Parents Guild luncheon.

Mary Lynn put her forehead on her knee and ground her teeth. The stones from the old sidewalk were cool beneath her legs, and a chill worked its way up her spine. At best, she would spend the next ten days on crutches icing down her leg every few hours. And then another six weeks in physical therapy. Or worse, she would have to undergo surgery—something Dr. Powell had warned her about after her last rupture. “Surgery means no bearing weight for four months,” he had said, looking over his tortoise shell bifocals at her. “So be cautious, Mary Lynn.”

The street was quiet on this early Thursday morning. No one was around to gawk or help her up, and she started to weep—more from the frustration, from the time she would lose in the days and weeks to come, and from the stupid grate that no one in the city had bothered to right in maybe one hundred years than from the pain that seemed to compound itself with every new beat of her heart.

She put her clammy palms on the sidewalk and rotated her body over to her left side toward the entry way of the Spencer Art Gallery, and then she slowly felt her way up the side of the stone building until she was upright. She would have to walk on her tippy toes until she flagged someone down or found an open store where she could use the phone to call Jackson.

Mary Lynn swung her head back and forth in an effort to shake off the stars she was seeing. She walked a good block, carefully, on the balls of her feet to the corner of Meeting and Broad singing “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” by Elvis just to keep herself going. When she rounded the corner where St. Michael’s Episcopal Church stood, she spotted Roy Summerall, the rector, chatting animatedly to a familiar-looking man who leaned against a parked taxi cab, steam rising from his coffee mug.

She recognized the man as soon as he glanced in her direction. It was Craig MacPherson, Alyssa’s father. (Alyssa was one of Catherine’s best friends.) He had lost his job as a real estate appraiser during the recent economic crisis, and he was forced to pull Alyssa out of the Peninsula Day School, the private school Mary Lynn’s daughters attended. Now she could see that the rumor she heard was true. He was driving a cab to make ends meet.

Then just as she relaxed the balls of her feet after her favorite line in the chorus—“Yeah, before you abuse, criticize and accuse . . .”—in her relief over finding some folks she knew could help her, the pain shot through her leg, worse than before, and she leaned forward and vomited all over the base of the large white church column closest to Broad Street.

The men must have heard her retching. By the time she looked back up again, wincing and straining to get upright and back on her tip toes, they were by her side, gently placing her arms around their shoulders.

“You all right, Mary Lynn?” Reverend Summerall asked. She had been attending his church with Scottie every now and then, and she had met him once briefly at a Downtown Neighborhood Association gathering awhile back, but she was sort of surprised that he remembered her name.

She pulled her arm back around, wiped her mouth with the back of her fleece jacket, then placed it on his shoulder again. “Tennis leg.” She shook her head in disbelief. “I tore a muscle in my calf. It’s happened to me before.”

The men made a quick plan to carry her to the cab.

“On three,” Craig MacPherson said, and after he called out the numbers, she felt them lift her up and carefully scurry her down the sidewalk before setting her gently in the backseat of Craig’s taxi.

“Let’s get you home,” Craig said.

“Wait.” Roy put his hand on her shoulder and uttered a quick prayer. She couldn’t make out the words, but that didn’t matter. She had no problem with prayers. In fact, she was starting to like them. She’d been going with Scottie to a women’s prayer group at the church every Wednesday afternoon for almost two years now, and she had become downright used to listening to folks pray out loud for one another’s needs, though she’d never had the nerve to join in.

“Thank you.” She looked up and swiveled her head back and forth to meet both sets of sympathetic eyes. “I’ll be okay.” And then to Roy, “Sorry to leave a mess on your portico.”

The priest smiled. “Don’t worry about that. Just take care of yourself. I’ll check in on you later.”

Mary Lynn nodded, and Craig gently closed the cab door and walked around to the driver’s side. She was surprised by how clean the car was. It smelled like soap and maybe gardenias? Some sort of flower, anyway. And when she looked up to see Craig’s picture and license displayed on the visor, she noticed a drawing that Alyssa must have made for him. It was of the steeple of St. Michael’s with the sun shining through the second tier balcony. The one with the handsome arches. Then she saw the girl’s name inscribed in the far right corner.

Sitting down felt much better, and Mary Lynn was astonished by how much the pain receded when she took weight off of her leg. She needed to get ice on her calf as soon as she got home, and she would have to elevate her leg (up higher than her heart as she recalled) to stop the ache. That was how she would spend the whole afternoon—her leg in a pillow with a rope tied to the ceiling beam. That and calling all of the guests to cancel tomorrow’s tea.

But she felt so much better at this moment. Whew. Sitting down in the back of the clean cab with the bright sunlight shooting through the windows, she felt relief. As if, for a moment anyway, it had never happened.

As they turned off of Meeting Street onto South Battery, she could see her historic white clapboard home in the distance, particularly grand in its Christmas d├ęcor—fresh garland around the doorway and piazza rail, two magnolia-leaf wreaths with large gold bows on each piazza door, and even a little red berry wreath around the head of the statue in the center of the fountain in the side garden. That had been Casey’s idea, and it added a little whimsy to the decorations, Mary Lynn thought. To her it made the house wink to the passersby as if to say, There are children who live here! It’s not a just a photo from Architectural Digest. See? Every time Mary Lynn saw it, she grinned.

As Craig went around to help her out of the car, she turned to face him and still did not feel the pain. He took out his cell phone. “Should I call Jackson to meet us down here?”

“No,” she said. “He’s probably on his morning walk and I’m sure the girls are still asleep.” She reached out her hand. “If you help me out, I can make it in on the balls of my feet.”

Like Mary Lynn, Jackson had a morning ritual—walking their black Labrador, Mac, up King Street to Caviar & Bananas, munching on a scone and an espresso, reading the New York Times, preparing for a meeting with Mark or mapping out the day, the week, or the month—depending on how exuberant he was—and walking briskly home. Sometimes she ran into him a block from their house on her way home from her morning run. He usually brought something back to her—a muffin or a strawberry dipped in chocolate, which she discreetly gave to Anarosa, the housekeeper, to take home to her little boys. And now that the girls were out of school for the holiday, he brought something for them as well. Casey always enjoyed her treat, but the older girls were watching their weight and they, too, gave their treat to Anarosa.

When Craig leaned forward, she put her arm around his shoulder and let him hoist her up on her tippy toes. Then she took a step forward on the balls of her feet, still leaning on him, and she didn’t feel any pain. She took another step. Nothing. Her calf felt normal. She almost put her heels down, but she was afraid to.

When a horn from a driver stuck behind the recycling truck blasted just yards ahead, she was so startled, she leaned back and was forced to put her heel on the sidewalk.

The pain behind the back of her knee was not there.

She looked up at Craig. Her eyebrows furrowed. She rubbed the back of her leg. No tenderness. Nothing. What in the world?

“Hurt bad?” he said. He shook his head in an effort to commiserate. Then he stepped back and leaned forward with his hands on his knees to give her a little space. Maybe he thought she might get sick again.

She looked up at him. Had she dreamed the whole thing? No. She had heard her muscle rip. She had felt the shot of pain. It had happened to her two other times in her life, and she knew precisely what it was.

She decided not to answer Craig. It was just so strange. After a few seconds he lifted out his hand and she leaned into it expecting the pain to kick in, but it didn’t. Once she was on the piazza, she thanked him and he headed back to his cab. Then she unlocked the door, walked in the house with her heels firmly planted on the hardwood floor.

Was she fine?

She shook her right leg out. She walked. She did a few lunges, then jumped up and down several times, which caused Mac to bark and run into the foyer where he stopped, stared, and tilted his head as if he were as confused as she was.

Had Reverend Summerall’s prayer been answered?

“How was your run?” Jackson handed her a chocolate croissant in a waxy little bag. He was back sooner than she expected.

How many calories in a chocolate croissant? Way too many for a gal beating back a middle-age paunch in the midst of the holiday season. And how was her run? Well, she wanted to tell him the whole story, but something held her back. He had made it clear since she started going to church with Scottie that he had no interest in religion. He wasn’t going to stop her. It didn’t bother him that she went. He just didn’t want her to expect him to follow along with all of that. He had a mission, after all, and he was focused.

He cocked his head. “Your jog all right, baby?”

She looked into his bright green eyes. They blinked slowly. It was the first time they had made eye contact today.

“Amazing,” she finally said. She smiled and lovingly squeezed his shoulder. Then she gently accepted the little waxy bag and headed to the pantry where Anarosa kept her purse.

Friday, October 14, 2011

You cannot avoid the grocery store forever

Actually, yeah, you probably could avoid the grocery store forever. I sure tried. This post could also be a dialogue on my bonehead moves of the week.

Before I went on vacation, I let the cupboards go bear, not that they are ever particularly full here at home. And I was only gone 6 days/5 nights, so it wasn't like I was going to have a lot spoil while I was gone.

Yet, I was having to pick up lunch a few days before I left. When I got home last weekend, I had no desire to go to the store, and we also had the Ranger game. I managed getting milk when I picked up batteries and a piece of poster board on Saturday. Yes, I needed the batteries to take pictures and the poster board for my "Poor Cliff Lee" poster worse than groceries. No, I actually don't think that, but Paige was with me and there was no shopping with her. On Sunday, I slept all afternoon because we didn't get home until 2 AM. Sunday night, I think was the night I commented on only having a Lean Cuisine spaghetti and a package of croutons. At least with the milk, I could eat my cereal... 5 days in a row and I was tired of it.

And then, there was the work week. So help me, it's not worth going on vacation unless it is an amazing one because getting ready to leave and attempting to catch up from being gone totally cancels out any attempts at relaxation and de-stressing while being off a week. Add to that fact that at the office for over the past month it's been more hectic than usual. Between people pulled off for a special project, then people out sick, then someone leaving, someone else switching positions, etc., it's been insane. Take today's boneheaded day.

I got to the office about 6:30 this morning to start the day. Amanda was trying to talk me into lunch. I said I was going to eat my last two pieces of pizza left from a couple of days ago when I picked up a nasty CiCi's pizza so that it would stretch for a few days. I ate it for lunch Wednesday (and dinner), yesterday for lunch, and had the last two pieces for today. This is almost as stupid as the fact that after a couple of nights of just eating frozen fruit and Cool-whip at night, last night I decided all I needed was carrot slices and salad dressing from the depths of the fridge. I did find a baked potato, and luckily had butter since the sour cream looked beyond sour and I had no cheese.

So, I went to go get my pizza, had the pizza in hand, threw the box in the trash and dropped one of my slices in the recycle trash can. I decided the last piece was gross and wouldn't eat it.

I worked until 8:15 without finishing near what I needed to. And then I went to the grocery store. I was hungry. You shouldn't go to the store hungry or if the fridge is empty. I filled my cart handsomely. And got some things for the church food pantry as well.

And the most stupid thing of all, at 9 PM had to bring all the groceries into the house and was dog tired. I am ready to curl up in the fetal position now.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Radical Faith Brings about Radical Change

Beth Webb Hart explores what happens
when we leave our inhibitions behind.

What would it look like if we really loved each other—if we had no inhibitions about sharing our faith and our very lives with a hurting world? How would we really spend our time and our money? And what impact would this have on our own families, especially our children? What impact would it have on our communities, our country and the world? These are the questions that first inspired Beth Webb Hart to write her newest novel, Sunrise on the Battery.

Hart always begins her writing with a question, and she was inspired with these questions after reading David Platt’s book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. His book uncovered blind spots in her own life and helped her fully imagine just where her characters’ uninhibited faith might take them. 

Mary Lynn Scoville has everything anyone could desire—a handsome husband, three beautiful daughters and a ticket into the social elite of Charleston, S.C. But after a miraculous answer to a prayer on her behalf, Mary Lynn decides to pray that her husband will discover the faith she loves. But when her prayers are answered, she finds her world turned upside down and is forced to deal with the idols she has created in her own life.

Jackson Scoville is a man on a mission. Growing up deprived of the finer things in life, he wants more for his children. His mission is to give his girls the best—a top-rate education, exposure and immersion in the fine arts and frequent opportunities to see the big wide world. “Not just education, baby—cultivation,” he is known to say. But when he discovers the truth of Scripture, his focus takes a quick turn—a turn his family may not like. 

While writing about the lives of Mary Lynn, Jackson and their daughters, Hart shows her readers how God can change a life and inspire a family. She draws her readers into the story, especially with her intricate details of the social culture of Charleston. Her characters will shine a reflection on her readers’ own struggles and fears, and they will be inspired to examine their own lives and discover what really matters.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, “Hart writes inspirational fiction that leaves readers pondering the subtly expressed life lessons well after the final chapter. She manages to make even the unlikely a real possibility in this richly written tale of discovering faith.” So come along as the Scoville family discovers their new family mission—a mission that will change their world and the world around them. 

Sunrise on the Battery by Beth Webb Hart
Thomas Nelson/October 11, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-5955-4200-7/320 pages/paperback/$15.99

For review copy and interview information, contact:
Audra Jennings - 800-927-0517 x104

Bloggers may request a review copy
by filling out the form below:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A week gone by too fast

Obviously, I haven't blogged about my vacation while I was away. I avoided a computer as much as possible. I did a couple of preset posts for work related items while I was gone because I just simply ran out of time to do it before I left.

I wish I had another week away, but then I would just want another week. Let's go through the list of what I was looking forward to so that I can see what I accomplished:

  • Sleeping in (except for Sunday morning when we are leaving at 6 AM - that's just wrong) or being able to take a nap (which won't happen Sunday afternoon at it's regular time while I'm driving -- I hope I can stay awake).
Not really. I was up around 7 AM every morning. Even though I had a room to myself at the condo, I could hear the others up and milling around. Some mornings, I heard noise before  7, earlier than my alarm is set to to to work tomorrow. At least I went to bed at 9 PM last Sunday night after getting up at 4 something AM to get ready to leave. I did get 10 hours of sleep that day at least.

I didn't really take a nap while I was gone - I dozed once.
  • Doing a jigsaw puzzle. When is the last one you just sit down and did one?
I started putting some border together, then put it back in the box when we all had to sit at the table. No one was ever around to work on it with me, and though I never really thought about it before, a puzzle is sort of a social activity, at least in my family.
  • It not being 100 degrees and actually getting some fall weather.
During the early morning and late afternoons/evenings, this was a yes. During the day, it was pretty warm.
  • Reading books for the fun of it. I already have two picked out to take.
I did read a couple of days, but I didn't read as much as I usually do. I think this was because I didn't get to read while riding since I was driving.
  • Fishing. I don't touch worms or fish, but I'm going to stick a hook in the water because I can.
Did not actually do this at all.
  • Being about to get out and walk around. I'm tired of being glued to my office chair and when I leave it, it's been 100 degrees outside.
I did this while shopping.
  • Playing mini golf.
We only did this once, and I think the people we were with weren't too into being there, or at least didn't seem like it, so I felt a bit guilty that this was my thing and we only did it for me.
  • Sitting around and watching the new TV season without interruptions.
When I could stay awake through it, yes.
  • Not answering questions non-stop all day long.
Absolutely yes!
  • Not doing weekly reports.
  • Not checking email.
Now, I'm scared to see my inbox in the morning, since I haven't seen it in 8 days.
  • A change of scenery.
Yes in that it wasn't the four walls of my house or the office, but I didn't see anything else I hadn't seen before, so in that, I wish I got to see something different.
  • Chicken and Dumplins at Cracker Barrel
NO! I ordered some bad ones elsewhere. For all the love my Dad expresses for great food in Branson, I didn't have any of it. And I ate hot dogs three nights in a row. I mean, I knew I wanted hot dog night, but...
  • Shopping
Yes, and I got my fill. 
  • Going to a Ranger playoff game if they make it to the next round.
OH YEAH! And sat through the hours long rain delay. Didn't get home until 2 AM this morning and am paying for it.

I did get my nap in today after being in a questionable state of wakefulness during church. I was exhausted from the drive home Friday through Arkansas (why my dad picked that route is beyond me). When I got home, Paige wanted to spend the night over here, so I didn't sleep too well, although I was oh-so-glad to see her.

We got to the Ranger game when the gates opened at 4:00 - three hours before game time because of all the warnings about parking and avoiding the Taylor Swift traffic.And of course, Texas finally saw rain once I finally got playoff tickets. You don't leave a playoff game with the tickets many times the normal face value until they officially call it. Brian asked me at church this morning if they ever finished playing it since he didn't join back in watching on TV once it started back at 10:45 last night.

One big reason I didn't blog while I was gone is the lack of anything to say. I spent way too much time by myself and came to the conclusion that I don't want to go on vacation by myself. What I thought would happen - what I blogged about regarding expectations of what would happen as the fifth wheel - happened with the exception of at least I had a car to drive around. There's such thing as good alone time, and then it becoming too much. My mom saw this happening, but wasn't able to do much to prevent it. When Dad finally saw it at one time, instead of doing something to make Thursday different, after recognizing that I got screwed in a deal, they still headed back out without doing anything different.

I saw Contagion one day by myself. There aren't a lot of great movie choices out right now, and the times were sporadic. What I can say about that movie was that at least it was something to do for a couple of hours.

That's really as far as I will take my vacation discussion because if I were to go into it any further, it would probably go in a direction of needing an "attitude adjustment" to process it. I just don't want to go there with it. I did admit to Paige about the time I spent crying while I was away. I really wish I could have just enjoyed my time all the way around. Don't get me wrong, it was enjoyable in ways, and I don't want to complain.

OH, and while I was gone, Floppy Jr. and Princess "went to the big fish bowl in the sky". They called one day to tell me. The girls' mom changed the water in both, they'd cleaned the rocks, etc., then went for a bike ride. When they got back, each had perished in their separate bowls. At least it wasn't on my watch.

The pirate ship at the mini golf course.
I said I would go to one show if we could go see the Oak Ridge Boys.
There were 24 geese at the condo looking for food.
The flag covered field.
The tarp covered field. Actually, they are taking it off here. The first time.
Go Texas Rangers!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Look Inside A Place to Belong

Thank you to everyone who took part in today's tour!

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:

Barbour Books (September 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Radio personality, recording artist, speaker and author Lisa Troyer finds herself heart-deep in ministries that are changing lives forever. Her incredibly successful Circle of Friends women’s ministry, formed over a decade ago, is growing in all directions. With partners Dawn Yoder and Jocelyn Hamsher, Lisa and her Circle of Friends offer women’s conferences, counseling services, worship music, life skills classes and marriage/family resources. No matter the outlet or the venue, Lisa uses her gift of encouragement, her influence and her resources to open doors for women everywhere to discover their significance and belonging through Christ.

Active on the business side of the music industry for many years, Lisa worked as a copyright administrator for what is now Provident/Integrity Music, as well as a consultant for well-known European Christian recording artists. In Nashville, she also sang demos for songwriters, but never dreamed of recording music herself.

After several years in Nashville, much to everyone’s surprise, including her own, Lisa made the decision to return home to join the family business and explore what kind of ministry God had planned for her. As Lisa began to develop a deeper, more intimate relationship with God and, subsequently, became more involved with the steady stream of hurting women God placed in her path, she knew that she had found her calling.

Lisa’s passion for God, authentic love for people and undeniable giftings have landed her dead center in the middle of a burgeoning ministry beyond her wildest expectations. She lives in Berlin, Ohio, with husband and best friend Bob, and their two precious children, Jillian and Christian.

Visit the author's website.


Every woman needs a place to belong—and that’s the underlying theme of the new book from Lisa Troyer, president of Circle of Friends Ministries, singer/songwriter and radio host. In A Place to Belong: Out of Our Comfort Zone and into God’s Adventure (Barbour Publishing), Troyer shares her own journey to acceptance as well as the story of a group of dynamic “women helping women” who call themselves the Circle of Friends. Troyer encourages readers to form their own circle of friends, a safe place of truth and love where women can develop lasting relationships and discover together the purposes of God for their lives.

Though refreshingly warm and simple, A Place to Belong is far from shallow. Troyer’s passion to lead others into the bottomless love of God compels her to plunge deeply into the heart of the issues all women face, but most keep to themselves. With tendencies toward depression, anxiety attacks and an eating disorder, she knows firsthand the bondage of secrecy and shame. “Living with a secret,” Troyer admits, “doesn’t make it go away. It doesn’t change your heart. As well hidden as your secret it, that is how deeply lonely you will be. I’ve been there. I know it’s true.”

In A Place to Belong, she explores five principles that address the heart-needs of women today:

* Acceptance, embarking on adventure in relationship

* Authenticity, exchanging the familiar for the extraordinary

* Affirmation, enriching the lives of those around you

* Accountability, receiving the comfort of companionship

* Action, stepping into the journey and walking into the purpose

By learning to apply these concepts, women will not only experience freedom themselves but will also develop a biblical, transformational ministry to lead others within their own sphere of influence to freedom as well.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616265051
ISBN-13: 978-1616265052


I Had a Secret

This is my story. Acceptance means you can tell yours.

Day after day for four years in high school, I felt his eyes on me. His aftershave lingered in the aisle as he walked past rows of students, and I remember what his presence felt like when he stood close to me.
I kept his secret all that time and for many years afterward. Protecting him was not my agenda. I thought I was protecting myself.

I was not going to be one of those girls.

I was not going to get that kind of reputation.

He was a married man, and I was not going to give in to what he asked of me.
School is supposed to be safe, for crying out loud. He had no business doing the things he did, and I knew that at the time. But I was fourteen, a freshman in high school, and I didn’t want to walk the halls in my smalltown high school and have everybody see the cloud of inappropriateness that hovered over me. Who would whisper behind my back? Who would

pull away from me if they knew?

So I kept quiet.
He asked me out, and I kept quiet. He made physical passes at me, and I kept quiet. He offered to purchase alcohol for a friend, and I, sadly, accepted the offer. I remember the warm spring day in early May of my sophomore year when he asked if I needed anything for the weekend and suggested he join me for a drink. And I kept quiet. He looked at me in that way, and I kept quiet. I felt ashamed and confused, and knew this was wrong, but I kept quiet. I sat in his classes every year and earned awards. He was part of my day, part of my routine existence, and no one but my best friend ever suspected the things he suggested to me in private moments. She did not know everything, but she knew something was going on. But she kept quiet, too.
I wasn’t the first girl with whom this teacher behaved in inappropriate ways, and I wouldn’t be the last. I knew just enough about his previous victims to know their reputations were trashed. He was the predator, but they paid the price, and I was not going to let that happen to me.

So I said nothing.
But I had chronic stomachaches, repeated severe colds, wanted to sleep all the time, and hated going to school. School was never my favorite activity to begin with. I preferred to read what I was interested in and found little wonder in things that didn’t apply to my focus du jour. The heightened emotional pressure in high school made attendance even less motivating. My junior and senior years were especially difficult. My interest in music was increasing, but so were my level of frustration and signs of clinical depression, though I didn’t know the phrase at the time. I wonder now how I didn’t flunk out of school. Two elements of relief were my choral and humanities classes. I enjoyed singing and reading Wuthering Heights and other classic literature. I was thankful for the positive influence and encouragement of Penny McKey and Connie Evans, true educators in every sense of the word. Despite my emotional challenges, I managed to make the honor roll and progress toward graduation.

When I was a senior in high school, my stomach trouble took the form of a duodenal ulcer. Because the symptoms persisted after the ulcer healed, the gastroenterologist suggested my parents explore a psychological reason for my illness. I started seeing a psychologist, who officially diagnosed my clinical depression. His practice was not faith-based, but he had studied for the priesthood before getting married, and he encouraged my own faith. It was a safe place for me to say I was not okay without saying why I was not okay.

I still kept the secret.
After a while, my father had his doubts that the psychologist was doing any good, but I had recently turned eighteen. By the grace of God, the psychologist reminded me I no longer needed my parents’ permission to see him, and he offered to treat me for free for a few months. We spent a lot of time talking about my poor dating choices and areas of my life where I felt I had little control. Looking back now, I realize the therapist probably suspected more than he ever expressed. He was waiting for me to be ready to talk.
But still I said nothing.
My free visits with the psychologist got me through the months until graduation, and then I was free from that environment. I never had to see that teacher again. I was off to the Art Institute of Atlanta, far away from my small Midwestern town, to prepare for a career on the business side of

the music industry.
You can’t just walk away.
Just because I did not reveal what happened during high school did not mean the experience had no effect on me. It was years before I told anyone the whole sordid truth and faced the huge impact it had. The depression that began during those years has been a specter for all of my adult life.
On the outside, things looked good. My dad wanted me to take his financial investment in my education seriously, so he said, “No bad grades and no partying, or the money stops.” I didn’t intend to give him a reason to cut me off. I now enjoyed school. I was free from my tormentor. I could be anybody I wanted to be. People who struggle with depression and don’t take prescribed medications tend to medicate themselves with something else, and that’s what I did. I plunged into a whole new social life where no one had even heard of my school or the predator who gave me an ulcer. I amassed a new cadre of friends and relished the freedom of living in an apartment by myself. I even dated a young man who presumed we would marry someday—although I knew I would never marry him. Social activities stimulated me and became the core around which my life revolved. I looked forward—never back. I was grown up now, I thought. The past was behind me. I was never going to live in my hometown again, so I had no reason to dwell on the things that happened there. After graduation from the exhaustive one-year program and an internship with the retail division of Zondervan, a publisher with a music arm, I was ready to take on the world.

In those days, a career in the music business meant New York, Los Angeles, or Nashville. My parents objected to Los Angeles, and I had no desire to move to New York. That left Nashville. So off I went with a classmate. We planned to share expenses. Neither of us had a job, nor any

prospects, but the hope of youth springs eternal. However, my friend soon found that Nashville was not the place for her and resumed her vocation of ministry and education. So I was on my own.

And I still carried my secret.
In Nashville, at the ripe old age of twenty, I found a niche on Music Row, a historic area that is home to hundreds of enterprises involved in country, gospel, and Christian music. Record labels, publishing houses, recording studios, video production companies—they’re all there. I found a job singing demos for a studio in a music publishing company, but ultimately I wanted to work for a Christian company.

I kept inquiring at Benson Records, a major Christian music publishing company that belonged to Zondervan at the time. I grew up in a family business, and I knew the easiest department to get into was sales, where the turnover is always high. So I just kept asking. Eventually I got a job.

The woman who hired me said it was not because I had any experience that impressed her. Rather, my tenacity captured her attention. So I jumped into

the sales department ready to give it everything I had. Six weeks later, a job in the copyright administration department opened, and she recommended me for that promotion since I’d had some experience on Music Row with similar tasks.
My stubbornness paid off, and I had what I wanted. I was independent. I was out of the Midwest countryside. I was on my way to a career on the business side of the music industry. I worked for a Christian company.
I stayed in Nashville long enough to know I didn’t want to work for someone else the rest of my life. The family dairy business that was the backdrop of my childhood had imprinted me with a different mind-set. I had proven I could bulldog my way into the music scene in Nashville, but for what? My parents ran their own business and employed dozens of other people. In addition to his solid business, my dad was always pursuing interests he loved. He even bought a plane. I understand my father. He is never one to shy away from a challenge or an adventure. I wanted to find that elusive intersection between work that paid the bills and being involved with activities that brought meaning to my life. When Dad invited me to return home and join the family business, I took him up on it. I could have the security of the business behind me while also exploring what kind of ministry God had planned for me.

When I chose to move back to my hometown, people thought I had lost my marbles. Didn’t I realize how hard it was to get a job at one of the country’s largest Christian music companies? If I walked away now, I might never get another chance.
My broken past was behind me. At least, I convinced myself this was true. I was twenty-four years old—a lifetime away from that high school girl with a secret—and embarking on independent music industry consulting. I worked for Cliff Richard, one of England’s most popular recording artists, from a base in the rural Midwest. I also jumped right into making cold calls to find new distribution outlets for specialty items of the family business and turned out to be pretty good at the job.

But I still had a secret.
Secrets make you lonely.
Secrets can destroy from the inside. When I kept my secret, I thought I was protecting myself, but instead I isolated myself from people who cared about me. I put up a wall to try to keep myself safe, but instead I kept out people who would have wanted to help. I regret all the years I didn’t tell my mother what happened. As a teenager, I wanted to avoid the attention that surely would come from exposing the predator—my mother would have

made sure he lost his job. He continued to prey on high school girls and eventually was found out. I just didn’t want to be the one who made that happen, and I was clueless about how deeply the events would affect me as I launched into adulthood. As hard as I tried to pretend that what happened didn’t matter after I left high school, the episodes haunted me for years.
All these years later, I still feel naked telling this story, even without including the details. But I hope we are going to travel together on the road to a transforming life in God, so you need to know that this happened to me. In the pages ahead, you’ll read about a lot of heartache. Some of it is mine, some of it reflects the lives of women I know, and some of it rises from the pages of the Bible. And yes, there are some sordid details God thinks we need to know!

Keeping a secret doesn’t make it go away.

Putting on your mask doesn’t change what’s in your heart.

As well hidden as your secret is, that’s how deeply lonely you will be. I’ve been there. I know it’s true.

So I tell you my secret and invite you into my journey with God to encourage you to step into your own journey with God. I’m not suggesting you publish your innermost wrestling in the daily newspaper or on a blog or a billboard. But I do hope you will begin to see the bountiful blessing that can come to your life if you unclench your fists and let go of whatever you have been hiding from yourself. From others. From God.
Circle of Friends is a ministry of women who both seek and offer a place to belong, a place of acceptance, a place of truth and love.

This is my story. Acceptance means you can tell yours.