Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Exciting New Release From Terri Blackstock!

I don't know about you, but I love a good mystery! Whether it is more of a suspense or a whodunit, I love them all. And let me tell you, Terri Blackstock is an author known for her thrilling suspense novels. So when I heard about Downfall, her newest book, I was overjoyed when I was asked about reviewing it!! This is the latest book in her Intervention series. Learn more about what I thought of it below.

Emily Covington has turned her life around after a drug addiction, but her family still has trouble trusting her. Though Emily has committed herself to a year-long treatment program and has been sober for almost a year beyond that, even her mother walks on eggshells around her, fearing she'll relapse. After her behavior during her drug years, Emily realizes she has a lot to prove. When police discover a homemade bomb under Emily's car, and she then learns the wife of one of her friends was murdered that same morning, she knows things are deadly serious. But who wants Emily dead? And why? A conversation she had with two men, an Alfred Hitchcock movie, and a plan for a double murder all conspire for one explosive ride ... and Emily is the only one who can identify the killer and save the life of the next potential victim. As she frantically works to solve this ever more complicated puzzle, Emily finds herself playing right into the killer's hands.

Emily is someone I fell in love with right away. I felt sorry for her in her struggle with drugs and the battle she faced daily of people not believing her. I realize people can fall back into sin, but at the same time, the neighbors and friends who almost expected her to fall really irritated me. I guess that is a good part for the author as she makes you dislike these people so much.

I had a hard time with Emily's mother, Barbara. She stands behind her daughter to a point but she also flips out when drugs show up in her house. Emily's brother was great and I personally liked him better than Emily:)

The suspense is what made me love this book. It has great tension to it!! It is the type of book that I thought I knew who the bad guy was and it turned out to be someone totally different. Twists and turns pull together for a spine tingling book. Excellent thriller!! I love how Terri makes you feel like you are Emily, fighting the battle against drugs and then you almost step into the shoes of the killer. Excellent book!!

I received a copy of this book for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation.

Interview With Dianne Christner + Giveaway!

Well, this was supposed to go up the other day but something came up and I wasn't able to get it done. So, today I have an interview with a wonderful author. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed her book but I am going to try when I post my review tomorrow. Please check it out! But, when Dianne sent me my book for review, she also sent along another copy of her book so I can give one away to my readers! That's right! One of you will win your very own copy of Something New by Dianne Christner! Follow directions below to get your entries in.

Thank you for being with us today, Dianne!!! How long have you known you wanted to be an author?
Since I played the Authors card game as a kid. Loved that game.

Can you tell me a little bit about your newest book?
Something New's about a Mennonite gal who feels stuck in life. Lil Landis has an adventuresome spirit, but her plain Jane life is stifling her dreams. She sets out to put her potluck genes to a better advantage by becoming a headchef. But when her dad requests her help, she feels guilt ridden and returns to the farm she detests.
Lil literally collides with her hero. At the restaurant where she works, she backs her clunker into his boss's expensive car.
Fletch is a veterinarian intern who comes to the Landis farm to care for the sick livestock. But because of his past involvements with activists against animal cruelty, he ends up working undercover at Lil's farm. From there, the conflict snowballs into what my agent calls, Romantic Dramatic Comedy.

When a reader gets done with your book, what do you want them to come away with?
Don't lose faith. Laughter can be found in the bleakest of situations. It's healing.

Is there a place you have always wanted to visit? A vacation spot, historical monument, overseas, etc?

Yes, but I already found it. Last summer my husband and I vacationed in a beach house with my daughter and her family. I want to go back there. Live there. Sigh. I also love adventuring with my two sisters on our annual sister trips. Since we have each other for support, we try to stretch ourselves on these outings, doing things we wouldn't normally try on our own.

If you could have dinner with 2 people, who would they be?
Meg Ryan and Goldie Hawn. I love romantic comedies, and I'm sure this information gives away my age.

What one event would you love to be at? Historical or future?

The country music festival held in Sweet Home, Oregon. It's the setting for my next novel.

Do you have a favorite hobby?

I just got out of the cake decorating phase. Now I'm nesting, because we haven't lived in this house very long.

Is there something about you most people wouldn't know?
I pretend-play with my grandchildren. We have tons of fun. My husband and I built a wonderful Victorian doll house. It's filled with cute animal families. Shrugging, I like to play.

Do you have any suggestions for the aspiring writer?
Grinning, I like how these questions slowly eased from pleasure into work. Okay, find an agent; you'll need one to start your career. Create a website and being to build a platform before your work gets published. It's harder to do this once you're writing under deadlines. Find a group of writers for support. Write consistently. Dream big. Be fearless.

Any last thoughts for your readers?
Let's meet. You're such a big part of my world, and I love connecting with you. My website is designed for interaction with a readers' section, messaging, and even a place for prayer requests. I pray daily for these requests. On my website you can link to my blogs on writing and the Mennonite lifestyle. There are great Amazon book promo codes that can get you instant savings on books. Your comments matter to me. We can also connect on Facebook.

And how can they connect with you?
Dianne's Website
Plain Girl Romanticizing Blog
Dianne Christner on Facebook

Thanks so much for being my guest today, Dianne! I really enjoyed it and it was fun to learn more about you.

One of my favorite things with doing an interview is finding out more about an author I enjoy. We always view them as an author but it is nice to find out more about them as a person. What they enjoy, what hobbies they have, etc. I hope you guys like it too!

So, like I said, this is an excellent book. And I am not a big fan of Amish or Mennonite books, but this one pulled me in from page one. Read my review tomorrow! Dianne's book, Something New, can be purchased from Amazon and believe me, if you don't win a copy, you will want to buy it. But for now, get your entries in through the Rafflecopter form below. If you have any questions about using the form, please let me know.


Giveaway will end 3/14. Winner will be chosen through and they will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CFBA Blog Tour Sweethaven Summer

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Sweethaven Summer
Guidepost Books (February 7, 2012)
Courtney Walsh


Courtney Walsh is a published author, scrapbooker, theater director, and playwright. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, will be followed by two additional novels in the series. She’s also written two papercrafting books, Scrapbooking Your Faith and The Busy Scrapper. Courtney has been a contributing editor for Memory Makers Magazine and Children’s Ministry Magazine and is a frequent contributor to Group Publishing curriculum. She works as the PR Manager for Webster’s Pages from her home in Colorado, where she lives with her husband and three kids, who range in age from 4 to 10. Courtney drinks entirely too much coffee.


Suzanne's daughter, Campbell, journeys there in search of answers to her questions about her mother's history.Suzanne's three friends-Lila, Jane, and Meghan-were torn apart by long-buried secrets and heartbreak. Though they haven't spoken in years, each has pieces of a scrapbook they made together in Sweethaven. Suzanne's letters have lured them all back to the idyllic lakeside town, where they meet Campbell and begin to remember what was so special about their long Sweethaven summers. As the scrapbook reveals secrets one by one, old wounds are mended, lives are changed, There are Walmart promo codes available if you are looking for similar books on e-book.

and friendships are restored-just as Suzanne intended.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Sweethaven Summer, go HERE.

MY REVIEW-I was really interested in seeing how this book panned out. It is somewhat tied in with scrap booking and I like doing my own scrapbook. I am very glad I read this book! Courtney does a great job pulling you into the story and feeling like these are real people you are reading about. I felt like I had taken a summer trip to a small town called Sweethaven. The characters were very realistic. The descriptions of the scenery and the whole town made me feel like I was right there. But even better was the story. Excellent job at writing!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Words Spoken True By Ann Gabhart Blog Tour

This is personally an author I am not real familiar with. I have read one of Ann's other books, The Outsider, but didn't really care for it. The plot of this one though really caught my attention. And let me tell you, Words Spoken True was a really interesting read!!

Adriane Darcy was practically raised in her father's newspaper offices. She can't imagine life without the clatter of the press and the push to be first to write the news that matters. Their Tribune is the leading paper in Louisville in 1855. Then Blake Garrett, a brash young editor from the North with a controversial new style of reporting, takes over failing competitor the Herald, and the battle for readers gets fierce.

When Adriane and Blake meet at a benefit tea, their surprising mutual attraction is hard to ignore. Still, Blake is the enemy, and Adriane is engaged to the son of a powerful businessman who holds the keys to the Tribune's future. Blake will stop at almost nothing to get the story--and the girl. Can he do both before it's too late?

Set against the volatile backdrop of political and civil unrest in 1850s Louisville, this exciting story of love and loyalty will hold readers in its grip until the very last page. Bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart once again delivers an enthralling and enduring tale for her loyal and ever-expanding fan base.

MY REVIEW-Adriane was my favorite character out of this book. She is strong and loyal, which made me love her. Blake was a little harder to like at first. He is almost cocky but you grow to love him as well. The first part of the book was a little slow for my liking and I almost put it down to try reading again at another time. But I kept on and boy am I glad I did!! The second half of the book is very good! There is something that happens about a third of the way that really speeds things up.

One thing I like about this book is the history and glimpse you get into the past. Louisville is a place I visit every year and it is fun to get a look at what it used to be and what it was like back then. Boy has it changed! But certain parts of it are still the same. Let me just say, Ann knows how to add detail and almost character into a city. Not sure I will ever look at Louisville the same way as I used to.

So, if you are looking for a fun read, I would check into this book. If you are someone who absolutely has to have a fast read, I am not sure I would pick this one up. I enjoyed it once I got further into the book but like I said, I almost put it down. But if you like a rich historical novel, then this is the one for you! Will be watching for Ann's next novel when it comes out.

Available February 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
I received a copy of this book for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation. All thoughts are 100% mine.

Sweet Tea Junkie Review and Giveaway!

Howdy ya'll!! If any of you know me, you know that I am a southern gal. I love my sweet tea and the south, in that order:) I am not a diehard tea drinker because I love my water, but my other drink of choice is sweet tea. Well, when I heard I was getting this next product, I was so excited! Sweet Tea Junkie offered not only to send me a shirt for review, but there will also be a three winner giveaway!! Yep! Three of my blog readers will win a Sweet Tea Junkie prize:) So read through and see my shirt but make sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom.

When my package arrived I was really impressed with the wrapping and details. I know you have seen it before, but I like when a company gives a reviewer the special treatment. Wrapped with a ribbon and it looked all pretty:) It is nice when a company treats you like a customer. I may not be a buyer right now, but I have a lot of readers and I often purchase from companies I review from, if I like their products. I hate getting in a product for review and it is just wrapped in an envelope. You can tell a lot about a company by it's packaging.

I also received a very nice decal in my package as well. It says, "Got Sweet Tea?" I will be putting this on my wall after I get back home. It is little things like this that put a company above it's competitors. Check out the decal:)

The shirt I recieved for review is the Sweet Tea College shirt. This is the Florida colors, as you can tell:) But there are other colors coming for the southern colleges. I believe there are already a couple more done. The shirt itself is very comfy. Nice and soft like you wouldn't believe! It is a form fitting shirt so it was a bit tight on me. I prefer my clothing to be a bit loose but with the fitted shirts it is hard to get them that way. But this is no fault of the company. Just my preference in shirts.

Now, there is also a fun secret abou these shirts. Shhh... You have to be quiet about this:) Nah, not really. But inside each of these shirts is printed a sweet tea recipe!! You heard me! Inside mine is a Mango Sweet Tea recipe. The thing that I was amazed at was that it doesn't itch. I thought it might scratch your back but it doesn't. Nice and comfy. Inside each shirt is a different recipe though. I thought that was pretty interesting. No other company I know of does this.

So, there you have it. Sweet Tea Junkie is my type of company. I love the bold look of these and they are very modern designs. They are constantly coming out with new designs and I love them! If you are a sweet tea lover, you will enjoy these as well.

Readers, Sweet Tea Junkie has offered to host a giveaway where three winners will get a prize. One winner will get a $25 store credit and two winners will each get a shirt. He has offered a Sweet Tea College shirt and a Welcome to the South shirt. The one is for ladies only but the Welcome to the South shirt is for guys and gals. Get your entries in below through the Rafflecopter form.

Giveaway ends 3/10. Winner will be chosen through and they will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
I received product for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The most popular gifts to fill Easter baskets

There is much anticipation that comes with the celebration of any holiday, regardless of which one it is. Most of us would agree that much of the celebration of any holiday revolves around spending time with our families, and to be more specific, the children that are in our lives. Typically when we think of these kinds of holidays, Christmas is the one that immediately comes to our minds. But there is also another holiday that is just as popular with the kids, and not just because it means another day off of school for them, and a day off of work for mom and dad.
There are many parts of this holiday that are special both for spiritual reasons, as well as for other reasons. One of these things is the Easter baskets that are given to children in order to help them with the celebration of the day. There are an infinite number of reasons why these gifts are so popular one of the more obvious reasons is that they are typically filled with a lot of candy which is then enjoyed immensely by almost all children.

Also very popular are the other Easter gift basket ideas that include things like small toys as well as books and stuffed animals like ducks and rabbits. These ideas are popular with most all children. All of these ideas are ones that are very popular with children no matter what age they are or what stage that they might be in. There are many gift guides that are available to people who need a little assistance with locating the perfect gift for the person that they are trying to please. These can be immensely helpful resources and are still heavily relied upon especially all of the online resources which because of technology are available to us at the touch of a button.

Something else that is easily used for good Easter gift basket ideas is music. Musical tastes can range with older children but chances are when asked they will have a good idea of the artist as well as the different styles of music that they like. These gifts can also take different forms from conventional discs to gift cards that are redeemable for online content. Especially for older children sometimes it is easier for them to choose the different music that they like and it also makes the process much easier for you as the person who is shopping for the gift.

There are an infinite number of choices that people have when they are trying to find gifts for the people that are on their list whether that gift is for Christmas or for Easter. It also is a good idea to make sure that you start shopping early because shopping is almost always a hectic operation no matter what day it is. If you need further assistance while you are shopping you may also find it beneficial to being a friend with you in order to get advice.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Laptop Carts

How many of you own laptops? I think it is pretty reasonable to assume almost everyone owns a laptop nowadays. It is funny thinking back to when we only had a desktop computer. And the kids don't remember those days, that's for sure. But with laptops comes all the fun of making sure you have all the accessories. And boy are there a lot of them! Laptop storage has really gotten better and I personally love a backpack for mine but there are many other options out there.

A laptop cart is a nice place to keep your computer. I like how it is nicely put away and out of harm. Do you know how easy it is to crack a laptop screen? Believe me, we have done it before:) Not nice and hard to fix. Laptop carts are pretty cheap and don't look shoddy in the house. There are some nice ones out there! Check out the website I have given links to and see for yourself. They have some good prices.

I have not purchased from this site. All thoughts are 100% mine.

FIRST WildCard Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry

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.***

MY REVIEW-I had never heard of this author before I got this book in. And I don't know where I have been!! This was an excellent book with a lot of suspense in it. I enjoy a good mystery booka nd this one had plenty of it:) But it is also a heart searching book that will have you thinking about some deep things. Is it right for someone else to die for another person? Would you give your life for another person? These are just some of the questions that reading this book bring alive. I really didn't care for the bad guy but that is how you are supposed to feel, right? Truman's daughter was someone I kind of clicked with. Overall a good book and quite lengthy! Thank you for an excellent read!


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.


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


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

“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

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

“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

“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

“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

“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

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

“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
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.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cancel The Mold Show in Your Bathroom!!

Okay, Social Moms is really picking up and I have to tell you, if you are not a member yet of this wonderful blogging program, I would suggest you sign up! They have great blogging opportunities and support like you wouldn't believe. And one of the best parts is winning points that you can then use on gift cards! Love it!! Anyways, they have teamed up with Tilex on this opp and I am really enjoying this one.

Tilex has just come out with a new lineup of products and to celebrate this they are hosting a sweepstakes where you can win some really great prizes:) And in the meantime, I am going to give some tips below on how I keep my bathroom mold free. You know how hard it is to keep mold out of a bathroom? I sure do! With little children especially it can get tough to keep your bathroom mold free. So my tips are below to help with this. But once you are done reading, make sure you head over to the Tilex Sweepstakes and get your entry in. Lots of good prizes!

1.Use Precautions.
There is nothing like stopping something before it starts. I try to wipe or scrub down the tub every week. This helps to stop the mold before it even gets a foot hold in the tub. Wipe down the shower curtain every week as well. For someone who only has a shower, scrub it down the same way. It can only help in the future.

2.Use People Friendly Cleaners and Soaps.
Always make sure that what you use if friendly to the family. I like to even use soaps and shampoo that make the cleaning easier. Use ones that are eco friendly and organic.

3.Plenty of Ventilation.
I don't have a window in our bathroom. But I like to have a small fan or a humidifier in there. It helps to keep the air moving and the air clean. Cleaner air means cleaner bathroom.

4.Keep Bathroom Clean.
Make sure you throw out empty shampoo bottles that are sitting in the tub, bars of soap that are not being used, etc. Try to keep a hanger in the tub or shower that you can hang your loofah on to dry, etc.

So, these are some of my tips on keeping the bathroom mold free. Leave a comment below if you have some tips. I love to hear from my readers! And make sure to stop over at the Tilex Sweepstakes page to enter for some awesome prizes!!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Tilex blogging program, for 8,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

The Qur'an Dilemma Book Review

Wow!! This book is an eye opener! I have read up and studied quite a bit on the Muslims faith and this book, The Qur'an Dilemma, reveals some really great passages that I will be using in the future. Take a look below and see what I found interesting.

The Qur'an is the very foundation of Islam. It is the source of all laws and practices, religious or otherwise, in Islamic countries and societies. The Qur'an itself is divided into 114 chapters, or suras, of different lengths. This first volume of the The Qur'an Dilemma investigates the first nine of these suras. Each sura contains the text of the Qur'an complemented with these well-annotated elements: * Introduction, outlining the major subjects * Critical analysis of key verses, focusing on their historical accounts, scientific information, logic, and literary structure. * Variant readings of certain verses, highlighting how the Arabic text has been read by others in ways that differ from the current common readings. Emphasis is given to the variation in the text itself, especially by those who do not agree with the codification made by 'Uthman's committee * Abrogated verses with analytical comments, explaining how the authority and understanding of such verses are impacted by other verses.

MY REVIEW-First of all let me say, this book is one of the nicest copies of a book I have ever seen. I have a lot of older books that have nice covers, etc. but this one goes above and beyond. A really nice hardbound book!! And that is only touching the outside. This is formatted in an easy to read manner and is actually quite interesting to read through. It may not be everybody's cup of tea but I found it interesting to see what is really in the Qur'an.

Each chapter in the Qur'an is called a Sura. This is all explained in this book and I have to tell you, I couldn't believe some of what is written in there! If you are someone who witnesses to Muslims on a regular basis, I would urge you to get a copy of this book. I have marked areas that I will be using and memorizing for use in the future. Wonderful book with so much information it isn't funny. I can't wait for the second volume to release.

I received a copy of this book for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation. All thoughts are 100% mine.

A Day At The Toy Show

One thing I enjoy as a blogger is going to toy shows, fairs and events like that. It is fun to see all the new products and even get to take some home with me. While I am there though I often see new ideas for marketing. Whether it is a trade show carpet or logo mats, there are plenty of new ideas.

The toy and game show is a very nice one to attend and they have plenty of big names there. You could realistically spend all day there touring the area and getting a glimpse of new games and toys. Believe me, it is plenty of fun!! And it is amazing to see some of the new items. Children can go in and play with blocks and board games or they can have some food. Some of the biggest names in toys are at this show. And they all have their logo canopy waving in the breeze:)

So if you are a blogger, make plans to attend a fair or show near you. Tons of fun and lots of good products!

FIRST WildCard Six Ways to Keep the "Good" in Your Boy

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.***

MY REVIEW-If you are the mother of a little boy, this is a book you MUST pick up! Especially if you are a single mother you can't miss out on the excellent information found within the pages of this book. I was amazed at some of the statistics, the things that are pulling our boys down, and the ways that Dannah gives helpful information. I have read one of her previous books for girls and this one is a wonderful book for boys. I would be careful letting boys read it but as they get older, it might be helpful. There is one section I would be very careful about and I hesitate about having it in there but I guess it is needed in our generation. Overall though a book that is a must read for parents of boys.


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.


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


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.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Clorox Clean Up Plus Fun Contest and Recipe!!!

Howdy all!! Social Moms is at it again:) This time they have teamed up with Clorox. Everyone knows Clorox and what a great brand they are. Not only for bleach but also as a family brand that helps you clean house anytime. Well, they have recently come up with a Recipes for Fun website and what sounds like a neat contest, the Ultimate Mess Party Contest!! Now there are ways you can win coupons, gift cards, etc. And you can win a gift card just by viewing recipes on the site! One random winner is chosen to receive a gift card for clicking through and looking at recipes. If I were you, I would be heading over there to check it out:)

So anyways, Social Moms has teamed up with Clorox and I am going to be giving some hints as far as what we do to make family time fun with arts, crafts and food. You didn't know they could be mixed did you? Well, they sure can and boy can it get fun!!

One of our favorite things when we were young was making pancakes into different shapes. Ever used cookie cutters to make snowman pancakes? We used all types of cookie cutters. So this has turned into something we do quite a bit. Especially on a Saturday morning it is good to get the kids up and into the kitchen helping. And what better way to do it than to make it fun! Children love playing with food so give them that chance by making shapes with their food.

Another fun thing we have done is the recipe below. This comes out very good and children love being able to make their own characters. And they don't even realize they are making a healthy snack at the same time! There is no set recipe for this but the basic instructions are below. Let each child personalize their own cup as they would like.


Vanilla Pudding

Decorations: cereal, grapes, blueberries, orange slices, strawberries, kiwifruit, gumdrops, food coloring,


Spoon Vanilla Pudding into a serving bowl, and use decorations to create fun faces.

This only takes about 5 minutes to make and serves four people. I like to get the big container of vanilla pudding and use it for several mornings or for snacks too.

So, how do you have fun in the kitchen with your children? Leave a comment below and let me know. I love to hear from my readers! And please make sure to run over to the Clorox Recipes for Fun site and enter your own recipe!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Clorox Clean-Up Recipes for Fun blogging program, for 8,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. For more information on this program, click here and see the Terms link

SEO Consulting Services

As a blogger one of the main goals I have is building up my blog. Whether through linking or just plain writing good articles. I also recently found another way to get top rankings. Have you ever heard of SEO Consulting Services? This is basically a service to get better rankings for a business whether big or small. I look at it from the perspective of my blog but for a business it is the best!

SEO Consulting Services offers many ideas and options to gain better ranking. Need help with keywords or trying to get found by the search engines? I know I am always trying to find better ways to do this. And I want to do it legally and not always link to others sites, etc. But I could use some help with it, that's for sure:) So if you are looking for this kind of help, check out SEO Consulting Services. Lots of info available and you can see some of the services they offer, chat with a consultant online, etc. Check it out!!

Promise Me This Blog Tour by Cathy Gohlke

Michael Dunnagan was never supposed to sail on the Titanic, nor would he have survived if not for the courage of Owen Allen. Determined to carry out his promise to care for Owen’s relatives in America and his younger sister, Annie, in England, Michael works hard to strengthen the family’s New Jersey garden and landscaping business.

Annie Allen doesn’t care what Michael promised Owen. She only knows that her brother is gone—like their mother and father—and the grief is enough to swallow her whole. As Annie struggles to navigate life without Owen, Michael reaches out to her through letters. In time, as Annie begins to lay aside her anger that Michael lived when Owen did not, a tentative friendship takes root and blossoms into something neither expected. Just as Michael saves enough money to bring Annie to America, WWI erupts in Europe. When Annie’s letters mysteriously stop, Michael risks everything to fulfill his promise—and find the woman he’s grown to love—before she’s lost forever.

MY REVIEW-This is the first time I have ever read anything by Cathy Gohlke. And boy was it a pleasant surprise! I really enjoyed Promise Me This and her take on the Titanic story. I have always been a fan of reading about the Titanic and what a tragedy took place that day. In this story, Cathy weaves a tale of romance, mystery and suspense as well as a release of bitterness and guilt.

Annie is a young lady who deeply loves her older brother. But he decides to sail on the Titanic to go to New Jersey and make a home there with some family. Then when he has enough money and a business he will send for Annie. These two are very sweet together and I loved their relationship. But Annie gets irritated when her brother, Owen, befriends a street urchin who is actually a runaway from an abusive situation. Michael is the runaway who has never had a friend in his life. He also has a dark secret in his past that he thinks about often but was no fault of his own.

Well, I am sure you guess the plot but Michael finds his way onto the Titanic and ends up as a stowaway. When Owen finds out he takes him under his wing to help him. They share their food and sleeping area but Owen also shares his dreams with Michael. Then in the middle of their plotting and dreaming comes that dreadful night when the Titanic hits an iceburg. And Owen pushes Michael into taking his lifevest and a spot on a lifeboat. And from that moment on, everything has changed in their plans. Owen gave his life for Michael and now the dreams they both had become Michael's responsibility. He takes over the business that Owen wanted and plans for the day he can bring Annie to America.

In the meantime, Annie is dealing with her own troubles and an evil aunt. I have to admit, I felt like slapping the woman a couple times. Annie takes over gardening and the woman pulls them all down and burns them. Annie has to deal with the bitterness she has to this wicked woman and how it is pulling her down personally. She doesn't want to forgive the stowaway who she thinks is the reason her brother died.

In the end there is a lot of joy and freedom from guilt and bitterness but it was a long journey. I like how the author didn't just make everything a bed of roses but went through struggles we have daily in our own lives. I also like how she wove the story of John Bunyan and Pilgrim's Progress in this book. It has long been one of my favorite Christian classics and learning about his tombstone and the inscription made my day. There is the use of a swear word twice in this book in the terms of military time. I didn't like having it in there so I wanted to mention it in my review. I can't wait to see what the author has in store next for us her readers! Excellent book!

You can learn more about Cathy Gohlke at her website or on Facebook. Definitely going to be searching for her other books!

I received a copy of this book for review purposes through Tyndale Publishing. I did not receive any monetary compensation. All thoughts are 100% mine.
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