Wednesday, August 31, 2011

the one

I was thinking about the whole idea of "the one" today. A while back I read Praying For Your Future Husband by Tricia Goyer and Robin Jones Gunn. It's a really great book and leads you through praying for your future spouse in different areas of his life - ultimately bringing him to the place of being ready to meet you. So I was just praying about my future husband today, thanking God for him though we've yet to meet. And then I started thinking about "the one." I believe in there being one person for me - to an extent. The way I look at it is that God has someone for me, who's a perfect complement to my personality. Someone who is strong in areas that I'm not and vice versa. But is there just one person out there, suited to me? That makes me think of the movie Ever After where Henry is asking Leonardo da Vinci this very thing (source:

"Henry: Do you really think there is only one perfect mate?
Leonardo da Vinci: As a matter of fact, I do.
Henry: Well then how can you be certain to find them? And if you do find them, are they really the one for you or do you only think they are? And what happens if the person you're supposed to be with never appears, or, or she does, but you're too distracted to notice?
Leonardo da Vinci: You learn to pay attention.
Henry: Then let's say God puts two people on Earth and they are lucky enough to find one another. But one of them gets hit by lightning. Well then what? Is that it? Or, perchance, you meet someone new and marry all over again. Is that the lady you're supposed to be with or was it the first? And if so, when the two of them were walking side by side were they both the one for you and you just happened to meet the first one first or, was the second one supposed to be first? And is everything just chance or are some things meant to be?"

It's an interesting subject but at the end of the day I have to leave it with God. I know He has someone for me and I don't have to understand all of the "how's" - just that He's working it out. Will he be a Prince Charming? Probably not but he'll be just right for me :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

tweet of the week

I had a thought for a new thing to do on my blog. I have some tweets from people I follow on Twitter come to my phone and there are some I save when I need a reminder or a good laugh. My thinking is to share one of these a week - just passing along some encouragement.

This is a tweet from Jenny B. Jones (@jennybjones): "Just hang on...your breakthrough is coming - for those who are courageous enough to wait it out."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

saturday spotlight: jenny with "picky palate"

I don't know how I found out about Picky Palate but I'm super glad I did! Jenny has some of the greatest recipes - I've only made her Cookies and Cream Peanut Butter but on Wednesday I shared her White Chocolate S'Mores that I'm so making A.S.A.P.

Here's a little blurb from her blog: "Picky Palate started as just a baby late 2007 and has grown to be more fun than I had imagined. This is a place where I share not only recipes for the kids picky palates but for adults too. I love writing family friendly recipes since this is the phase of life I’m in right now. I know how boring the same dinners can get week after week, so it is my goal to provide new and exciting dishes to bring to your kitchen tables."

She also has a cookbook coming out next year which is super cool and I'm definitely keeping my eye out for that!

Also on her blog you can find a very handy recipe index and a page of giveaways - who doesn't love free stuff?

So stop by her blog and say hi!

Friday, August 26, 2011

book review: "route 66" by krish kandiah

"Route 66 is book that helps you to discover how the 66 books of the Bible help us to know God and how to live for him. This book is a crash course in enjoying the breadth and depth of the Bible, packed full of practical help. For many of us, there is a disconnect between the Bible we know we should treasure and the book we struggle to read. On the one hand, we know the Bible is a lamp to our feet, honey on our lips, the sword of the Spirit, and given to equip us for every good work. But sometimes the Bible feels more like a bizarre collection of ancient texts filled with obscure laws, irrelevant genealogies and incomprehensible prophecies with a few nuggets of wisdom, timeless stories and comforting promises mixed in. Using the analogy of a journey, Route 66 unfolds how different passages of the Bible can help us travel through different passages of our life" (from Krish's website about the book).

The book is designed as an eight week study guide, if you will. "For the most part the story of the Bible is a retelling of how God has connected characters, communities, continents and the cosmos itself in His great big story for all of creation, making the character of the invisible God visible to us." The book can be read individually or within a small group.

I couldn't take the time to read this book in eight weeks as it's intended but I want to go back and do that at some point. I really liked Krish's style of writing and how each day's reading is no more than three to four pages. One line that stands out to me was in the first week of the book titled "Living Faithfully:" "God's aim [for giving us the Bible] was the opposite [of a bullet list of "need to know" facts] - that the stories could boil over into the messy reality of our lives." I like this because life isn't neat and tidy. We have things we're going through and we need God to move as only He can. We can read about people in the Bible and see how God delivered them and find comfort in His words offering us peace and strength. "The variety of the Bible mirrors the variety and breadth of human experience - our personalities, our moods, our decisions, our learning preferences, our life experiences, our flaws, our gifts, our struggles, our needs." This book will help you gain a better understanding of the Bible and in turn, gain a better understanding of God.

I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications for my honest review.

You can learn more about the book from Kregel's site and read a sample chapter.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

recipe: white chocolate s'mores

I came across Picky Palate when I made her Cookies and Cream Peanut Butter and became an immediate fan. I saw her post for White Chocolate S'Mores the other day and will be making these very, very soon. You can see her complete step-by-step instructions by going directly to the recipe but here's the basic info:

1 box yellow cake mix
1 large egg
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
4 1/2 full graham crackers
10 ounce bag white chocolate chips
2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

"1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line an 8×8 inch baking pan with tin foil that’s been generously sprayed with cooking spray. Make sure foil goes all the way up and over the edges for this one. It will be a full pan.

2. Place cake mix, egg, and butter into a large mixing bowl. Mix with hands until a nice dough forms. similar to a cookie dough. Press half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Layer with graham crackers, white chips then marshmallows. Top with remaining half of dough pressing evenly. Drizzle sweetened condensed milk over top then bake for 28-33 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown on top. Remove from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes then take a plastic knife and run along edges to loosen marshmallow (this will make your life easier when pulling foil out of pan to remove bars Let cool completely then remove bars from pan with foil edges. Cut off all edges if desired, about 1/2 inch each side. I save the edges to snack on too. Cut bars into squares and serve. They are delicious room temperature or chilled."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

book review: "ancient" by k.t. kimbrough

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:

iUniverse (October 6, 2009)
***Special thanks to Kyle Kimbrough for sending me a review copy.***


Author, artist, woodworker, and world traveler currently thrives in Austin, Texas with his beautiful wife Mandy and daughter Zoё Isabel who has recently joined us in this world. His plethora of numinous literary inspirations are often stirred by being in nature – hiking, camping, fishing, spelunking, rock climbing, and, of course, reveling in the unadulterated, wall-less freedom of riding his motorcycle through the hill country.

Visit the author's website.


Every legend, good or evil, is birthed from truth.

In the ancient, mystic times before the great flood, entities from the spirit realm called Watchers were sent into the world of mortals to help and teach mankind. But falling prey to the lures of Earth’s lusts and greed, they forsook their edict. The Watcher’s half-angel offspring mature to be giants - warriors, tyrannically oppressing the free people of the epoch.

Young, free-spirited Noah ventures to save a group of women abducted during a raid on a peaceful Freeland village. What is meant to be a simple rescue cascades into a bloody incident, which in turn launches Noah into an epic adventure of peril, love, and spiritual intrigue.

Meanwhile, the turbulent paths of a rogue Watcher, young outcast, unpredictable loner, begrudged hunter, and beautiful escapee tumultuously entwine. Unified destinies clash into a perilous journey and struggle against time. Can they stop the powerful Watchers, conspiring with the aged and eccentric Lord Cain, from grasping the coveted key to eternal power?

Join one of the greatest legends in history in this epic tale - a fight for freedom against the tyranny of a seemingly unstoppable darkness in book one of the Ancient Trilogy.

Product Details:

List Price: $31.95

Hardcover: 384 pages

Publisher: iUniverse (October 6, 2009)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1440160074

ISBN-13: 978-1440160073



The thoughts of those who dwell on the earth shall transgress within them; and they shall be perverted in all their ways. They shall transgress, and think themselves gods; while evil shall be multiplied among them. Enoch 79: 8-9 Apocrypha

When the human race began to grow rapidly on the earth, the sons of God saw the beautiful women of the human race and took any they wanted as their wives. In those days and for some time after, giants lived on the earth; for when the sons of God had intercourse with women, they gave birth to children who became the heroes and famous warriors of ancient times. Gen. 6:1, 2, 4, NLT

First light would be the perfect time for any other hunt.

Soft, white mist drifted, swirling slowly past tall, lush green ferns, as two figures, mere shadows, stole silently through the forest. The early morning light, barely penetrating the thick foliage canopy high above, gave the waist-high mist an anomalous, pearlescent hue. The ground was invisible below the mist. Tips of shade grass, ferns, and mushrooms peeked out from the top of the listless fog.

The two human shadows stopped behind a huge, mossy tree trunk. The larger of the two leaned in and whispered to the other, and then slowly moved away stalking, hiding. The smaller one stayed by the tree, blending into the dark, hazy shadows of the massive trunk.

With a longbow in one hand and a leather quiver filled with arrows on his back, the stalker crouched behind a morel mushroom still in line of sight from the tree. The massive mushroom, textured like a sea sponge was conveniently just the right size to hide a full-grown man.

The hunter remained motionless: listening, watching.

He could hear the bubbling sound of a stream coming from the misty unknown, the periodic creaks and moans from lofty cypress trees … his own heartbeat. But what he could not hear told him that something was awry. No birds singing, no squirrels chirping, no animals of any kind could be heard. This was not normal, especially for these particular woods. And he could not ignore that feeling … or was it a knowing? A feeling that something was out there … that sense deep in his spirit that something ill-intentioned was watching him, possibly even stalking him, could not be ignored. Typically this would be a bad omen, but this morning it was a good one.

The crisp sound of a breaking stick echoed through the mist.

The man froze, and hoped that his son did the same. Chances were that it was just a deer or an ox just like all the other times when he had tried to hunt this particular murdering beast. But his spirit senses were screaming otherwise this time. And … what was this second sense that gripped his spirit so strongly?

He felt his heartbeat accelerate. There was another presence … a second one. There were two evils out there in the morning mist, hunting as much as they were being hunted.

Suddenly, he regretted bringing his son along. Mother did say that it was a bad idea and he should leave him at home along with the younger.

The morning light had grown brighter, piercing through the thick canopy of treetops, giving the mist a golden hue.

Crack. This time the sound was louder and closer. He tightened his grip on the bow as he scanned the forest for movement. It was as quiet as a tomb.

This is it. His spirit would not be screaming so loudly if it were not.

He made sure his arrow was in place. Remember the plan, son …

Movement caught his attention. The hunter’s eyes fixed on a thicket of ferns, bushes, and low-hanging branches. He caught a swift, passing glimpse of orange through the hazy green. The hunter watched, waited … steadied his breathing.

Then he saw it. A long, slender, orange-and-black striped tail swaying and twitching just above the mist. Four or five steps in front of the tail he saw a flash of striped, rippling, muscular shoulders. The beast’s head was still buried in the mist, heading straight for the huge, mossy tree that was hiding his son.

The hunter slowly swiveled so he could see from the other side of the morel, then raised his bow into position but did not draw. He had to wait for a closer shot. The first shot is the only one that counts and, due to this tiger’s reputation, anything but an instantly fatal first shot would just dangerously fuel his bloodthirsty wrath.

His heartbeat accelerated even more. He was tempted to think about all the people in his village this damned beast had killed … and how it didn’t eat them … just killed them … often tearing limbs from the body and leaving them there to bleed to death.

The hunter’s instincts kicked back in at the sound of another stick cracking under pressure. The beast was now so close that the man could hear the faint sound of its fur brushing against the wet ferns and dangling vines. Still heading his son’s direction, he could see it clearly now: crouching, almost slithering like a serpent through the undergrowth, nothing but evil intent in his wild, blackish-green eyes. Those eyes … those black eyes … they seemed to emit a spiritual darkness that he could almost see. Then he saw the teeth … twin entities of death. They jutted out of the huge tiger’s upper jaw: large, sharp ivory spears ready to draw blood … craving to draw blood.

Suddenly, with intensity that formed bumps on his skin, the hunter sensed that unseen mysterious second presence drawing closer. It was not the tiger … it was something unseen.

The beast was close enough. He drew the bow.

The saber-tooth tiger kept stalking toward the mossy tree, huge muscles rippling, and tail maliciously twitching.

The hunter heard a slight movement from his son’s tree a split second before releasing the arrow.

As the arrow sliced through the damp air, he heard his son release, then the whistle of his son’s arrow. Two arrows soared through the air at the same target. The timing was perfect.

Time seemed to slow down, almost pause, as the unimaginable happened … the tiger dropped below the mist with lightning speed reflexes and a large dark shadow appeared from nowhere and stood between the tiger and the mossy tree.

The moment of silence was broken by a quiet, yet chilling, growl from the tiger. The growl was not one of pain as the hunter expected, but one of malice … one of spite.

The hunter promptly reached back and slid another arrow from his quiver never taking his vigilant eyes off the tall, dark, hooded figure standing in the mist. As the mist rolled back from the quick movements, he could see the figure’s left arm stretched out, and a large fist poking out of a black, long-sleeved robe. The fist was holding his son’s arrow. The haunting figure turned its head slightly and looked directly at the hunter, though no eyes or face could be seen under the shadowed hood.

The mystifying figure then clenched his fist. With a snap that eerily echoed through the misty forest, the arrow fell in three pieces into the mist.

Instantly, the tiger reappeared from below the mist. The hunter looked a little closer. He could see the red fletching of his arrow poking out of a mushroom a few steps behind the tiger.

Unbelievable! The beast had dodged his arrow! And the mysterious dark figure caught his son’s arrow in mid-flight with his bare hand. Impossible …

Unmoving, bow drawn, he never took his focus off his two enemies.

What man can catch an arrow with his bare hands? He was still not entirely sure he saw what he thought he saw. No matter what or who this mysterious shadow was, if he so much as twitched toward his son, he would unleash all he had, sending him into the afterlife.

The tall, dark form, only a step away from the tiger, bent down slightly, and seemingly whispered in the beast’s ear. Instantly, the tiger’s crazed gaze locked onto the hunter as the hooded form lifted his long arm and pointed at him with a bony finger.

A chill of fear crawled up the hunter’s tensed spine.

The tiger lurched toward him with nothing but evil intent in his blackish-green eyes. Every muscle under that orange-and-black coat moved in unity toward murder.

The hunter released the arrow, aiming low so the beast could not duck it.

Just as anticipated, the tiger dropped down again, trying to duck the arrow.

The tiger roared.

He heard the thud of his arrow hit flesh just below the golden mist. Then the tiger jumped up with a guttural wheeze, and proceeded with his attack on the hunter.

It will take more than one arrow to bring this beast down. He saw the arrow’s red fletching sticking out of the tiger’s side. Frothy blood oozed and bubbled from the wound. The shot was too high. It hit a lung.

The hunter nocked another arrow as he called out, “Hithia!”

Another arrow flew level with the top of the mist. The tiger twisted to the side and with its huge paw, claws extended, swatted the arrow to the ground. He jerked his head to the side and let out an angry roar, then stealthily dropped down, disappearing again into the misty foliage.

Silence. The hunter turned his head side-to-side looking for the creature and its hooded master. Both had vanished.

“Hithia, are you alright?” The hunter called out.

A voice from the mist responded, “Yes … did you get him?”

He knew that his son could not see the entirety of what was happening from his position. “Stay where you are. I’m coming to you.”

With yet another arrow ready to fly, the hunter moved toward the big, mossy cedar, watching, listening, sensing. He knew the demonic tiger was close. But he no longer sensed that second evil presence. Spinning around he heard a shuffle in the mist entirely too close to him.

Fear is something he trained himself not to feel … or rather … if he did feel it, he would take charge over it. It would be in subordination to him, not the other way around. A man in his position could not afford to let it control his mind. Far too many responsibilities rest on his shoulders to be paralyzed by such a trivial thing as fear. But right now, in this not-so-typical hunt with his twelve-year-old son in danger, he was powerless to resist … fear gripped his heart in its cold, strong fist.

The hunter heard the twang of an arrow release just as he exited some bushes and saw the entire body of the crazed wounded beast leap off a mossy fallen tree toward Hithia landing a few steps in front of him as the arrow soared over the tiger’s back, disappearing into the forest.

Hithia dove to the side of the tree and fell down. The tiger, wheezing, with blood dripping from its mouth, crouched ready to pounce on his prey for the kill.

The hunter released another arrow. With a dull thud, it penetrated the beast’s side not far from the other arrow.

The hunter, in a protective violent rage, threw his bow down into the ferns, drew his long dagger from the sheath on his belt, and charged the tiger.

The raging beast spun around angrily and faced the brave hunter.

“Aahh!” the hunter attacked the tiger head on, blade swinging.

“Father!” Hithia yelled. On the ground next to the large tree trunk, he scrambled back to his feet.

No more than a stone’s throw away, another pair of eyes watched the violent scene unfold: the innocent, hazel eyes of a child. Hiding behind a large cluster of orange fungus on the side of a rotting log, which lay on the moist forest floor, a young boy was watching, not moving.

He had to do something … anything. His brother and father were in danger … the very danger he knew would happen.

He had to do something … this is why he had followed them. He already saw this happen and he had to stop it.

But, his body was solidly in place, paralyzed by fear.

Before the hunter could even get within striking distance, the saber-tooth swatted him. He took the powerful claw blow in the right shoulder, stumbled backwards, and landed in the bushes several steps back.

Dazed, he stood back up. Blood oozed from four jagged rips in his leather tunic.

“No!” Hithia charged the tiger from behind, stabbing him in the side with an arrow.

The hunter grabbed his bow from the ground not too far from where he had landed and swiftly nocked an arrow … but he was too late.

Ferociously, the beast spun around and slashed Hithia with his sharp claws three times before the boy hit the ground.

The hunter’s arrow penetrated the beast’s neck. The sharp, bloodied flint head poked out one side, and the feather fletching out the other. The tiger instantly dropped to the ground, his two spear-like teeth stabbing into the soft forest soil.

The hunter noticed movement out of the corner of his eye, but ignored it as he ran over to the twitching beast and his wounded son.

“Hithia,” the father said as he knelt beside his boy. The sight of his lethally wounded son made him cringe. He felt his very life force weaken as if he had drunk poison. Instantly, he turned the pain and grief off. It’s not time to grieve … not yet.

Hithia tried to say something but could not due to the deep tear across his bloodied, shredded neck. The hunter drew his son’s knife out of the leather sheath on his belt. Eyes hard and cold as the north mountain stone, he spun around and looked at the murdering beast lying on the ground. The malicious eyes shifted around, even now, with ill intent as if he were looking for one last victim before the end. Its tail twitched irately as a low guttural hiss escaped its bloody mouth.

Controlled by pure vengeance, the hunter grabbed the tiger’s long tooth in one hand and with the other, ended the beast’s life with a slash to its throat. Blood sprayed out, soaking the tiger’s pelt and the forest soil.

The hunter looked up toward a sound in the forest. A million feelings raced through his soul, grabbing and pulling in every direction as he saw a small ten-year-old boy standing over the other side of the dead tiger.

The innocent hazel eyes were grimly fixed on his brother.

“Noah …” The hunter turned around and saw that Hithia’s spirit had left his broken body. He then lunged for his younger son, wrapping his arms around the boy. Embracing him, he turned him away from the horror.

“Papa …” Noah muttered in a soft, trembling voice, “I … I’m sorry … I dreamed this. I came to stop it … I’m sorry …”

Still holding Noah tight, the father whispered, fighting back tears, “It’s alright. We killed the beast, my son.”

“Is Hithia …?” Noah’s voice quivered, staring at all the blood.

“His spirit has passed into the afterlife.” Noah’s father held him tightly for a few painful moments. Then he gripped his son’s head in-between his blood-stained hands and looked him in the eye. “Son, do not fear. Grieve if you must, but only for a time, then you must live, love, and fear nothing.”

A tear ran down Noah’s cheek, creating a trail through the bloody handprint his father had left. He could not know how this one foreseen event would define his future identity.


It happened after the sons of men had multiplied in those days that daughters were born to them, elegant and beautiful. And when the angels, the sons of heaven, beheld them, they became enamored of them, saying to each other, Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of men, and let us beget children. Enoch 7:1-3, Apocrypha


“Where are you?”

A streak of silvery moonlight eerily beamed through a single round opening in the center of the domed ceiling. Several smaller moonbeams softly streaked in from high circular windows in the huge flora-laden room.

The silvery light washed over numerous flowering plants and short trees in stone planters, streaking past towering pillars as the main moonbeam brightly shown on the surface of the far wall.

Painted onto the massive wall was a giant map mural. The moonlight washed over it, revealing the crooked contour of coastlines, many serpentine rivers, and the rough terrain of mountain regions. Even the names of the regions were painted in beautiful characters.

In front of the map wall, paced a man’s silhouette.

“Where are you?” The old man’s mumble softly echoed off the mural, drifting into the expansive plant-filled, moon-lit room.

The shadowy form was slightly slouched, leaning on a staff. Soft, silver light shone upon the nearly bald head.

“Where are you?” He paced, never turning from the map.

The butt of the staff tapped the marble floor with every step, echoing softly through the lunar haunted room.


The silhouette abruptly stopped and rapped the wall map with the top of his staff.

“Are you there?”

Unknown to the old man, another shadow covertly watched from behind a large white and red passion bloom, with keen eyes that hauntingly mirrored the silver of the moonlight.


The last colorful sun rays of the day warmed the lush, green valleys and rolling hills of the Freelands. An elongated hill stood in the center of a wide valley, with its grassy dome stretching just over the treetops. The elevated hill of rye grass and brightly painted wildflowers was a colorful island in a green sea of forest.

Near the highest point of the grassy ridge, a solitary, old, twisted olive tree proudly stood. It was not very tall, compared to the giant cedars of the hills and the massive cypress of the valley, but it’s beautiful branches stretched out well over three times its height, giving it a unique flattened top. It was as if it was playfully reaching out to the other trees of the valley, beckoning them to come join it in this ever-peaceful, elevated home of splendor.

The trunk forked into two main branches about two men’s height off the ground, making a perfect seat where Noah could rest and peacefully enjoy the view: a place for him to relax and meditate, away from the noise and clamor of all the lively people and the drama they spawn. Of course, Noah loved the town folk, but sometimes one just has to get away from the drama that existence creates. And this twisted old tree atop the dome of color was his sanctum.

Two chirping blue birds landed on a high branch.

Noah enjoyed sharing the tree with the birds; although the tone of their song made it clear to him that they did not share the sentiment.

A light breeze gently blew Noah’s dark brown, shoulder-length hair as he looked over the landscape with his hazel eyes.

From his high perch on the hill, Noah could see the world … at least his world, the one he knew, and a small portion of the world beyond, the one he hoped to someday explore.

To the south, down the hill and past the tree-lined creek, he could see his home village of Cypress. The reason for the name was obvious; a forest comprising primarily of giant, cypress trees shadowed the village. Some of the more adventurous men built their houses in the trees far above the forest floor, but most dwellings scattered through the forestland were made of sun-dried clay bricks and local wood.

Through the gaps in the distant trees, the people looked smaller than ants. Noah could see them milling about town, shopping in the market, children kicking a ball in the streets. Noah wondered if the people were looking up at the tiny tree on the hill as he looked down at them.

He could see the smoke of the cooking fires and the single, large billow of white smoke pluming from Uriah’s blacksmith shop. He could hear the chopping and banging of the carpenter’s shop near the western edge of town. And of course there were the two watchtowers strategically located on the south and northwest edges of town.

On the side of the ridge just east of town he could see the tall oak tree in front of the house he had lived in for years. The house could not be seen through the thick canopy of leaves but it was there. Noah would never forget what that tree looked like. Every knob, every branch was permanently seared into his mind. He and his brother used to compete to see how high they could get before they would get too scared and come back down. He wished his brother could have been around to see him beat their old record.

Noah looked north, abandoning the memory.

North, the mysterious north, the forbidden north … scanning the horizon Noah could see rocky, wind-swept mountains. They stood like a mighty dam of jagged teeth keeping out the dark water of the Black Sea, the great sauri of the wilderness of Herrer beyond, and the rumored evils of the north.

Are they more than rumors?

Noah did not know exactly how far it was, but somewhere on the other side of the rugged, mountainous wilderness, along the southeast coast of the Black Sea, was the City of Cain.

Some call it great, others call it an abomination. It has been said of the city that it houses witches, sorcerers, and the most evil men; not just men, they say, but also those infamous, cursed, mighty giants, the Offspring. Even the fathers of the Offspring, the great teachers known as the Watchers, have been lured there by the evil. They are now the lords of the great city. Some even say that the Watchers are the source of the evil power that fills the north lands.

Cain himself, the cursed son of the great father, Adam, is the lord of the great city, as well as many other cities and towns scattered throughout the northern regions.

People say that once one enters the City of Cain, they rarely come back and if they do, they are different … they carry evil in their soul. Even a purely, innocent soul would come back incubating a rotting evil hidden deep inside … as if a poison was slowly killing the essence of their being.

That’s what they say, anyway. And who’s they?

All Noah actually knows of the city is what he has heard from townspeople and his own parents. But if no one ever returns, then how does anyone know what truly exists there? Yet, if what they say is true, then the answers to Noah’s multitude of nagging questions just might be found in the City of Cain or somewhere beyond.

Noah gazed longingly at the mountain-lined horizon. The mountain range started in the far northwest, where the mountains seem to fade away into the endless pink sky; they stretched as far to the east as his mortal eyes could see. A vast ocean of trees and rocks, valleys and hills, laid in-between him and the mountains: waiting, beckoning him to explore them. He had done some exploring, hunting, and gathering in those woods over the years, but nothing that had satisfied his relentlessly adventurous free spirit.

Noah wondered what lay beyond that mountain wall. What phenomenal lands and unseen beauty hid in the wilderness beyond? What would he find if he just started walking north until he reached land’s end? The answers are out there hiding, waiting to be found … dancing alone in the forest mist.

Noah rested his right hand on his left shoulder, and with two fingers touched the off-white, carved bone handle sticking out of the long, leather sheath strapped to his back.

Things were about to change on several fronts.

It was about time to revisit that dreaded place in the north woods that he had been avoiding for over a decade. And, it was well past time for Noah to take his Journey … the traditional venture that every young man takes into the wild: a long quest along unknown trails and unexplored country to find one’s own life path.

Why have I waited so long to take it?

He could feel it deep inside … now was the time.

Noah’s father often told him that it is only on that quest when you truly find yourself.

Find yourself? What does that even mean? It sounds foolish … like a waste of time.

But he has more questions now than ever before. And the older he gets, the more he feels a need growing in his soul, a need to go. Go where? It doesn’t matter.

Just go. Just leave. Go.

Noah needed to find the answers to his questions, and those answers are hidden somewhere beyond the borders of his small world.

A bright, fluffy cloud floated lazily through the red sky, slowly drifting toward Noah.

A stiff breeze suddenly picked up, bringing an ominous dark cloud from the horizon toward the small bright cloud. As the dark cloud grew closer, Noah could feel a deep forbearing evil presence. The cloud was constantly moving; its dark vapor seemed to be caving in on itself, and then cycling around to the sides of the cloud.

When it reached the bright cloud, it surrounded it. With dark vapor swirling about, it trapped the bright cloud as if locked in shackles. Then the wind shifted from the south, blowing the two clouds back to the north, from where the darkness had come.

The evil presence was strong; it was over powering. Noah was feeling weak at the knees. He felt as if he had just lost something he treasured, something familiar. As he watched the bright cloud float away, a feeling of urgency swept over him like a wave.

Something had to be done. He had to do the impossible and get that cloud back.

He took off after the clouds running along the ground not letting them leave his sight, but he could not keep up. With every step, the dark cloud carrying the bright cloud away, gained distance. The more he chased them, the further they got.

Elohim help me.

Noah stopped to catch his breath.

Suddenly, a thick white mist came up from behind and surrounded him. It was a cloud. As it began to pick him up, he could see himself getting further and further from the ground.

He felt a sensation deep in his core that he had never felt before … total weightlessness: freedom from the shackles of gravity.

There were now clouds all around him. The black sky above was filled with stars and a blood red moon. Below him, there was nothing. He had never seen “nothing” before … but there it was. No color, no light, no darkness, just emptiness … nothing.

Most of the clouds that surrounded him were dark, forbearing … even malicious. The few white clouds that were there were being engulfed by the dark mist. He looked behind him and saw that there was a dark cloud following and gaining on him.

Suddenly there was a voice. “We must leave now.” It sounded like it came from …

Did that cloud just talk?


A strong gust of wind blew, sending them north.

Noah opened his eyes, instantly wide awake.

Moonlight, beaming through the window of his loft, reflected off the glistening steel of his sword that stood, leaning against the wall.

The candle he had lit hours ago had melted down into a river of wax, and streamed off his small table like a solidified waterfall, creating a lake of wax on the floor.

A gust of cool night air blew light brown hair over his eyes. He brushed it aside and looked out the window. The half-moon and its halo of greenish-blue light swirling around it sent soft beams of light into the room.

He lay there for a while and gazed at the beautiful light trying to regain his coherency after his fitful sleep.

This moon isn’t red … was his first thought. His second was the words of the bright cloud echoing in his head: We must leave now.

Did his grandfather not tell him to heed his dreams?

Noah sighed and rubbed his eyes.

Why not?

Noah closed his eyes. Is this it? Is today the day?

Yes. It is.

Noah got up and quietly got ready. He put his favorite blue tunic on. He then wrapped a leather belt, with his dagger in its sheath dangling from it, around his waist. He knelt down, reached under the little table and pulled out a brown, ox leather satchel and his leather shoes. He slipped his shoes on and then opened the satchel and put in his other shirt, a candle, a sharpening stone, a rope and his new canteen. Finally, Noah grabbed his sword off his bed and strapped it on his back.

The floor creaked as he took a step toward the ladder … as did the ladder itself when he climbed down.

He could still see glowing red embers in the fireplace from supper. The aroma of roasted venison still lingered in the air, making his stomach growl. He searched the moonlit room for the leftovers. Noah found them next to the shell sink already wrapped in a cloth. He put the whole thing in the satchel as well as a small loaf of bread.

That should last a couple of days.

Noah silently stood in the dark moonlit room looking around. He had a feeling he would not be seeing this house for a while.

Noah opened the door and took a step outside … the first step of his journey.

The first violet and red colors of the morning were just starting to appear over the misty hills. But before he could lose himself into the unknown, he had a couple stops to make.

My thoughts: While I liked this book I also was slightly disappointed. The story itself had a way of pulling me in - Kimbrough did a great job in weaving his words to create an exciting read. What I didn't like was the use of language. I didn't feel like it made the story any better. I found the whole idea of the Watchers to be interesting and was soon pulled into the story of Noah and his quest along with the other characters. It's definitely not lacking for action and also has some romance too - a little something for everyone. For the most part, a decent read.

Monday, August 22, 2011

seeds vs. pearls

Steven Furtick talked about in his daily blog post the other day about, in a nutshell, waiting. He was discussing the difference between seeds and pearls: "God will sometimes give you pearls, and when He does, be thankful. But from my experience, God’s wisdom and God’s work usually comes in the form of a seed, not a pearl. A seed has to go into the dirt to develop. It takes time. It doesn’t have the obvious value that a pearl does. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t significant. A pearl may have immediate and obvious value, but a seed has latent and potential power. It doesn’t look like much immediately, but over time its true worth shows itself."

I really liked this because it's where I'm at right now. Although, honestly, I feel like there will always be something I'm "waiting" for. What I'm learning is how to not put life on hold until that waiting is over. You have to live life in the midst of the waiting. Pearls look beautiful and are great for showing off but it's the seeds that bring growth. The seeds are the ones where you learn who you are and what you're capable of. The seeds require time to grow. As you plant the seeds, you invest tears and prayers and abilities - who you are is wrapped up in the seed. Don't abandon the seed just because it might be taking a little bit longer than you thought it would for the harvest. Don't give up. Wait for it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

saturday spotlight: marcy with "ida & mae"

I first heard about Ida & Mae last week when I entered a contest from Mandy on her blog, Pennies and Blessings. I entered the contest (as well as completing several of the bonus entries) and received an email yesterday from Mandy, telling me I had won these two beautiful handmade rings:

Here's a short snippet that Mandy featured on her blog about Marcy and her shop: "Marcy, the shop owner, started out working with beads – making unique rings mostly, under the business name of Beadworks by Marcy. Feeling the need to both expand and re-brand, Marcy recently relaunched her business with a new name, new feel, and new products! The names “Ida” and “Mae” hold special meaning to Marcy as they are the names of both her grandmothers. The vintage names, if you will, are a great indicator of the vintage lovelies you will find in the Ida & Mae shop!"

You can also find Ida & Mae on Facebook as well. All of Marcy's stuff is super cute and I am beyond excited at receiving these rings! She also has a blog so feel free to visit any of her sites!

Friday, August 19, 2011

spread the love

I wanted to take some time to tell about some other blogs I'm pretty excited about. One is mine, another is one I'm co-blogging on and the other two are by the person I'm co-blogging with (it'll make sense is a second). I started a blog on Wordpress a few years ago but quickly lost interest with it. Last week I was going to delete the account entirely but decided to keep the url and re-do the blog. The new name is called "Sub-Stantial Impact" and is about my adventures as a substitute teacher. I'm only a few posts in and it still has a ways to go - my hope is for it to be a place where substitutes and classroom teachers can connect with others.

The blog I'm co-writing posts for is called "Tatter'd Pages" and is strictly for book reviews. We're excited about sharing books we've enjoyed. A friend of mine had the idea for this blog and she has two of her own. One is called "By the Way" and the other "I Can Relate." So there we go. My commercial is now over but I'd love for you to stop by these blogs and spread a little blog love!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

recipe: white chocolate raspberry brownie torte

I've not made this yet but I will be in the very near future. I'm not a big fan of raspberry but I think this dessert might win me over. I love the simplicity of it and it's a no bake dish - how easy is that?! The recipe is from Better Recipes - a site with lots of yummy ideas.

Ingredients - 1 bag (12 ounce) white baking chips
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 11 oz container prepared Chocolate Brownie Bites (about 2 3/4 cups crumbled brownies)
- cocoa powder (unsweetened) for dusting
- fresh raspberries

"1. Line a springform pan with waxed paper. (Tip! Trace the pan on a piece of waxed paper to create the proper size. Cut out the circle and it will be the perfect size for the pan. Dampen the bottom of the pan slightly and it will help the wax paper stay in place.)
2. Place the white baking chips and 2/3 cup of the heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 2 – 2 1/2 minutes until melted, stopping and stirring the mixture every 30 seconds. Allow to cool.
3. Crumble the chocolate brownies and sprinkle over the bottom of the springform pan. Press down lightly to create a crust base.
4. Whip the remaining heavy cream until it forms peaks. Fold in the white chocolate mixture. Spoon into the pan over the brownie layer. Cover and freeze overnight.
5. Before serving, dust lightly with cocoa powder and garnish with fresh raspberries."

Monday, August 15, 2011

book review: "the confident woman" by joyce meyer

The Confident Woman is arranged into 365 daily readings. Each is only a page long beginning with a verse, Joyce's thoughts for that verse and ends with a related prayer. Each devotional is designed to encourage women to step out and be the bold woman God has created each of us to be.

I knew I was going to like this book after my first daily reading on May 23. The verse for that day is Isaiah 60:1: "Arise [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you - rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!" The tail end of the devotion says, "Sometimes the only way we can discover what we are supposed to do with our lives is to try different things until we see what works and what fits right in our heart. Don't let fear of making a wrong choice stop you from stepping out." On that day, reading those words spoke directly to my heart.

I like that these are short reads and can take as little or as long as you want. Joyce also shares stories from her own life of lessons she's learned. It's the whole idea of knowing someone has went through what you may be going through. Though I'm not finished with the book yet, I feel like the whole idea of the book can be summed up with something she said in the May 31 reading: "Don't let the world steal your confidence. Remember that you have been created on purpose by the hand of God. He has a special, unique, wonderful plan for you. Go for it! Don't shrink back, conform, or live in fear."

I received a copy of this book from FaithWords for my honest review.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

saturday spotlight: jessica with "my world made by hand"

I'm trying something new with my blog. I don't know if this will be every Saturday or every other - we'll just have to see how it goes. There are so many blogs I follow that have such amazing ideas and I want to share that amazingness with others. So my goal is to highlight why I think they're super cool and maybe it'll inspire you too...

Today's spotlight: Jessica from My World Made by Hand

I'm all about crafty, easy projects. I found this DIY project back in May and thought it was just about the coolest thing ever! It's beyond easy and I've made two of these scarves with plans to make many more in various colors at a later time. The first one I made didn't turn out quite like I thought but I'll chalk that up to practice. What's so cool is that by varying the size of the circles you cut, you can have either a longer or shorter scarf. I varied one of mine by making longer and shorter pieces so it would look fuller when put together. I haven't made any of Jessica's other projects but it's on my to-do list. I've included her finished product and the above link will take you directly to this project. Enjoy!

No Sew Ruffle Scarf

Thursday, August 11, 2011

new page

I don't have anything tangible to show proof for this feeling I have but with this new month now upon us, I've entered a new chapter in my life. I feel like I've turned the page and am staring at a crisp, blank page. There's nothing on the page - no ink spots or tears. It's ready to be filled with my triumphs and joys as well as my trials and storms. Though we're only a week into August, I've already experienced several highs and lows. I received a phone call, letting me know I didn't get a teaching position I had hoped for. I went door-to-door with some friends from church, asking if we could pray with them. I bought a new purse that is exactly what I was looking for (I take finding good buys very seriously). The rest of this month is filled with birthday parties, the Jr. High ministry at my church starting back up after a summer hiatus, and getting back into the swing of school.

I'm excited at what's coming up. It can be easy when things don't go our way for us to just give up. But I refuse to do that. I don't understand God's timing but I know it's always for the best. I know I will look back on these moments and see why I had to wait - or at least maybe have a better understanding of why. I choose to trust God even when I don't understand. It's gonna be good...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

book review: "12 questions to ask before you marry" by clayton and charie king

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 (August 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Catherine Miller, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Clayton and Charie King have been married for over ten years and share a passion to serve Christ through ministry, missions, and marriage. Clayton is a pastor and the author of Amazing Encounters with God and Dying to Live, and he is the founder and president of Crossroads Worldwide. Charie is an artist, author, and a popular speaker at youth and women’s conferences. Clayton and Charie have two sons.

Visit the author's website.


Longing to help dating couples prepare for lasting marriages, popular author and pastor Clayton King and his wife, Charie, guide them through 12 relationship-building questions about family, finances, and faith and unveil the biblical perspective that creates a forever marriage—it is better to serve rather than be served.

Product Details:

List Price: $11.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736937773
ISBN-13: 978-0736937771


Are You Willing to Grow Up?

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth…Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

Ephesians 4:14-15

Here is the best advice on marriage and relationships I have ever heard in my life. Partially because it is simple, blunt, and easy to remember. Mostly because it is absolutely true. Are you ready?

Grow up.

Rick Warren, the well-known author and pastor from California, said that after 30 years of marriage and relationship counseling sessions, he could sum up nearly all of what needs to be said to both men and women in those two words—grow up. I agree.

That is why Charie and I chose to put this chapter near the beginning. Right off the bat, straight out of the gate, you need to know that just about every other problem or challenge or struggle that arises in your marriage will only be a secondary issue. The primary issue will be your level of maturity. Because that maturity, above all other things, will determine whether or not you work together as a team to solve problems or whether you act like children, puffing and pouting and pontificating under pressure, and eventually quitting the relationship.

The bottom line is simple. Marriage is for grown-ups. It is too difficult and requires too much effort, patience, and self-control for people with the maturity level of children. And keep this point in mind: Maturity is not about your age. It is about your acceptance of responsibility.

Acting Like a Kid

There is something epic, right, and good about watching a mom or a dad lay down the law with their five-year-old in the grocery store. I’ve always been impressed with parents who are firm with their kids and aren’t swayed by their emotional outbursts and toddler tirades. So many kids rule and reign over their parents, ignoring their warnings, flopping about on the floor like a smallmouth bass out of water. So when a mom or dad actually follows through on a threat by stopping their child from behaving badly, popping them on the bottom, or grabbing them by the hand and taking them outside to the car or the parking lot, I just want to shout with joy. It’s beautiful to watch a mom or a dad accept the responsibility of being the parent. They’re acting like grown-ups. And one day their children will also act like grown-ups because their responsible parents taught them how to be responsible for their actions from their earliest years.

I saw something along these lines unfold one day in the post office that left an indelible mark on me. It involved a mom and her son. And it’s the perfect illustration of what happens when adults refuse to grow up, to mature, before they tie the knot.

I was behind them in line observing the interaction between mommy and son. This kid was…I really don’t know how to describe him. Awful? Disrespectful? Obnoxious? None of these do him justice. Put plainly, the kid was out of control. Yelling, jumping, pulling envelopes off the shelves. His mom was pitiful. Threatening him. Screaming at him. Rolling her eyes and snapping her fingers. It was a just a big display of futility. The kid knew his mom wasn’t going to follow through with any of her threats. They had played this game before. He knew he could act however he wanted and get away with it.

Everyone there was embarrassed. The clerks looked frazzled. But all of the grown-ups in the room knew it was not the five-year-old who was to blame. It was his mother. Even though she had accumulated enough years to be considered a grown-up, she was, in a sense, as immature as her son.

Then everything changed. The boy was running in and out of the large, heavy swinging doors that led to the parking lot. These were thick glass doors with steel frames. Every time he would run through them, he would push them open really hard, and try to jump back through them before they would close. And they would bang closed.

As the tiny tyrant was playing his game while his mother screamed more threats at him, an older woman with both hands full of boxes opened the other swinging door. And right as that door began to swing backward, the kid was jumping through, playing his game. He never saw the door the woman had let go.

The timing was perfect. The physics were just right. The door caught the boy at just the right angle and at full velocity as he came full-speed toward it. The kid was maybe 40 pounds, the door was at least 150 pounds, and he went airborne.

It sounded and looked way worse than it actually was. He was scared out of his mind. There was no blood, no real injury. But it was as if the cosmic forces of justice and discipline decided to step in and deal with a young boy whose mother was not willing to. All of us in the post office froze until we realized he was okay. And as he shrieked and cried and screamed bloody murder, we tried our best not roll on the floor laughing.

For some of you, sadly, this will be your marriage story. Playing games, having fun, acting like a child, when—BOOM! Out of nowhere you will get sideswiped and knocked on your back, and wonder what in the world happened.

Acting Your Age

People who are willing to grow up are developing the wisdom and foresight to look ahead and predict the outcomes of the decisions they make. If they don’t like what they see in their future, they make changes. They redirect their spending. They pick new friends. They begin reading books and turn off the TV and computer. They put away their cell phones when they need time to think. They watch what they eat. They adjust how they handle relationships.

Fools are not willing to grow up. They like being able to have fun and do what they want. They can run around and scream and yell and pull stuff off the shelves, so to speak. And they can play silly little games with other people’s hearts and emotions. They can sleep around, fool around, and break up with people at will. But just like the rowdy kid in the post office, if they refuse to grow up, hoping a great marriage will automatically come along someday, they will get blindsided by a force bigger and stronger than them. The kid never saw the door coming. Millions of people each year never see the divorce, the affair, or the meltdown coming.

Mature adults see trouble in the future as a result of their current decisions, and they change. Immature kids don’t.

This is why God gave us parents. Whether yours were good or bad, the job of parents is to guide and protect their children, preparing them to be mature adults in the real world one day. All good parents have, at one time or another, told their child to “act your age.” The assumption is that if a child is eight years old, they aren’t allowed to roll around on the floor in the middle of Wal-Mart like a two-year-old who doesn’t get the toy they want. There is an expectation that is not only natural but also normal. There needs to be level of maturity that is equivalent to the number of years a person has been alive.

So before you tie the knot, it is paramount that you deal with this issue as quickly as possible. Again, every single issue and problem and misunderstanding you face in your future as a married man or woman will be framed by your maturity level. If you have never really grown up emotionally, you will find yourself in the midst of a disagreement over something as insignificant as whose family you will visit over the Christmas holidays, and before you know it, it has blown up, and so have you, into an all-out fight. And you (or maybe both of you) are dredging up things from years past, making accusations that are irrelevant to the decision about Christmas plans, and raising your voices to the decibel level of a Metallica concert…all because you did not get your way in the discussion.

Be honest. Do you ever do this? Internally or externally? If you’ve never really asked yourself this question, you should do it right now. And answer truthfully. There is nobody to judge you or make you feel bad. I’m not here watching you—I wrote these words long before you picked up our book. So what do you have to gain by being dishonest about your maturity level? Just own up to it and tell the truth. It’s the first step in preparing yourself to be the kind of woman or man who is ready for the lifelong commitment of marriage.

Read the Signs

On the next couple of pages, you’ll find a basic list of words, attitudes, behaviors, actions, and reactions to serve as a grid…a grid by which you can judge your own level of emotional, spiritual, social, and financial maturity. Look at them as you would look at road signs.

The department of motor vehicles in your state will not issue you a driver’s license until you can prove to them (on a test, administered in a crowded building by less-than-happy DMV employees, usually) that you not only know how to read all road signs, but that you can also interpret what they mean. The DMV wants to know that you are competent enough to obey posted signs—signs that indicate laws that were established for our protection.

God has established laws in the universe He created. His laws are for our benefit and blessing, to protect us and keep us from harming others and ourselves. He has given us signs that He cares for us by establishing laws governing our behavior. He’s given us the Bible, the church, pastors and teachers and leaders, our parents, coaches, and the experience of older people to warn us. If we ignore the signs, we pay the price, just as ignoring road signs could cost us a speeding ticket or a head-on collision. It could cost us a fine, our privilege of driving, or even our life. So it’s much better to read the signs and obey them. Or as one observer of life has pointedly reminded all of us, “You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.”

As you consider your maturity level, do not be discouraged if you realize that you do indeed need to grow up in one or more areas. Rather, be motivated to change, make course corrections, get help, seek a mentor, read some books, see a counselor, change jobs. If you merely feel bad over being immature, you’ve missed the point. Think of these words as shining a light into your life that will illuminate you to yourself.

You may need to grow up if…

You are over 30 years old and still live with your parents. With the exceptions of caring for aging or sick family members or the sudden loss of a job, by your thirties, unless there is a physical or mental limitation, you should be self-sufficient enough to leave the nest. Who really wants to marry someone who still lives in their parents’ basement at age 34?

You have never had a job of any kind for more than six months. If you have never worked, you need a job. Any job will do. Just start somewhere. You need the experience. If you’ve had numerous jobs over the years and none of them have lasted very long, it may be a sign that you are lazy or easily bored, or have a problem being told what to do by a boss.

You are unable to pay your basic bills each month. Without assistance from family members or friends, you simply could not make it financially. This includes car insurance, rent, groceries, power bill, and basic medical expenses. If you can’t pay your basic bills, you will cause a train wreck by getting married to someone.

As a general rule, you lack self-control in your life. Whether it’s your spending habits, how much you eat, the amount of time you spend watching TV, or your constant obsession with being online (checking e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube), these are signs of immaturity, and are a crucial red flag that points to an inability to control your desires.

Your relationships look more like a roller coaster than a marathon. You are unable to develop long-term relationships with the opposite sex. You’ve never learned how to push through problems, boredom, or conflict, and your default mechanism is to break it off and start a new one. Your past is filled with failure in the area of commitment.

You always play the victim. You’re always secretly trying to uncover a conspiracy by your peers to exclude you from social outings, parties, get-togethers, or group dates. It’s immature to think that the cosmic forces of nature and love have combined their powers to hurt you. None of us are that important in the grand scheme of things.

You tend to speak negatively of other people. Whether in one-on-one conversations or in large groups, your habit is to bash or attack someone who is not present to defend themselves. Immature people say things about people behind their back (or online) that they would never dream of saying to their face. This can ruin a marriage in a hurry, because it reveals deep insecurities.

You are plagued by jealousy. Little children get upset on the playground when they see their best friend playing with or talking to another child. Grown-ups get past this stage…at least they should. Are you consistently jealous of other people’s possessions, salaries, houses, cars, friends, physical appearance, or family? Can you celebrate the blessings of God in others’ lives? Or does God’s goodness to others stir up envy inside your heart toward them?

You have trouble finishing. My two sons are notorious for starting little projects around the house, getting bored, and then abandoning them for us to clean up. They don’t know how to finish things yet because they’re not even ten years old. If you are known for beginning things all gung-ho with great passion, but you consistently fizzle out and never see it through, this is a relationship killer. Marriage is not something you can start, then walk away from, without serious emotional damage. Grown-ups finish what they start.

You are crippled by debt. If you are single and want to get married, the most practical area of your life to examine is your finances. This is the issue most couples fight about most often. If you owe tens of thousands of dollars on credit cards, student loans, your car, and so on, then your problem is not your debt. It’s immaturity. You haven’t yet learned how to live within your means.

You can’t say no. Marriage by nature requires you to say “no” to thousands of other opportunities (and possible mates) so that you can say “yes” to one person for a lifetime. If you are the guy or the girl who is always taking care of others, bailing your friends out, staying up ’til 2 a.m. on the phone trying to talk them out of another crisis, then you will have a rude awakening once your mate expects you to give them your undivided attention and affection.

You fall in love too fast. How many times have you told someone that you were “in love” with them since you turned 18? This may be an indication that you need to mature emotionally. Falling in love after every first date shows you haven’t really moved very far toward emotional maturity. It also guarantees you will get hurt as often as you fall in love, leaving your heart wounded for years to come.

Your relationships are too physical. If you have a track record of messing around and messing up with just about everyone you’ve ever liked or dated, this is bad news. When you start out basing a relationship on making out, kissing, or fooling around physically, you teach yourself to ignore the other person, their feelings, and the self-control that is essential in a godly marriage. Adults draw the line and stand back. Children run ahead without caution and suffer for it.

You have a problem with authority. Pay attention to this one, because marriage is about submitting completely, heart and soul, to someone else. Children hate being told what to do, regardless of their inability to be responsible for themselves. Are you like that? Do you tend to rebel against all forms of authority in your life? Do you balk at being told what to do by the government, the IRS, even a traffic policeman? Grown-ups understand that submission to authority is in their best interest, and they are willing to submit to God first and then to one another. Immature kids rebel.

Do I need to grow up?

I vividly remember the moment in my life when I started to ask that question.

I’d been dating a girl off and on for about four years. We were both in college, in our early twenties, and hopelessly “in love” with each other. There were only a few minor problems.

Neither one of us could ever feel any sense of peace from God that we should get married.
We came from totally different backgrounds.
Our families were as different as night and day.
Her parents begged her to break up with me (a real
bummer for a dating relationship).
We had fairly consistent arguments about meaningless things where one or both of us would end up in tears.
(As I said, a few minor problems.)
It was during one of our arguments about something totally insignificant that I had a sort of “out-of-body” experience. It was as if I was looking at myself from above, and what I saw scared me because it was really happening.

I was sitting on the floor, frustrated and angry and confused. I was crying like a baby. She was lying on the floor, balled up in the fetal position, weeping and wailing and telling me how I never listened. It occurred to me that this scene looked like an episode of The Jerry Springer Show. We were both acting like little children.

Then and there the reality set in. We were not ready for marriage. We couldn’t even have a healthy dating relationship. We were totally wrong for each other.

I broke it off and never looked back. My problem was immaturity. I needed to grow up.

In the remainder of the book Charie and I will explore these ideas and encourage you to continue asking yourself difficult questions as you prepare yourself to become the kind of woman or man that is ready for the lifelong commitment of marriage. You may want to come back to the list in this chapter and glance at it as you read, asking yourself if your biggest issue is your maturity level.

Remember, everything you face in marriage can be dealt with and handled correctly if you and your spouse have the maturity to work together as a team, by God’s grace, to tackle any problem that comes your way.

In what areas of your life do you need to grow up?

My thoughts: I was unsure when I started this book since I'm not engaged. I didn't know if the points made would be applicable to me right now but after reading it I would definitely suggest this book to those who are engaged but also those who are single. I want to get married and am in the process of getting my life ready for that step. I liked the personal stories Clayton and Charie tell from their own marriage. They talk about the need to communicate with your future spouse about your expectations regarding marriage. They give lots of potential red flags to look for before making the commitment of saying "I do." They talk about not giving up just because things might get tough but staying committed to each other. I found this to be a really good book to read while I look for the right guy - I have several things to keep in the back of my mind as I determine if a guy could be a possible husband.

Friday, August 5, 2011

book review: "restless in carolina" by tamara leigh

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:

Multnomah Books (July 19, 2011)
***Special thanks to Ashley Boyer, Publicist, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***


Tamara Leigh began her writing career in 1994 and is the best-selling author of fourteen novels, including Splitting Harriet (ACFW Book of the Year winner and RITA Award finalist), Faking Grace (RITA Award Finalist), and Leaving Carolina. A former speech and language pathologist, Tamara enjoys time with her family, faux painting, and reading. She lives with her husband and sons in Tennessee.

Visit the author's website.


Tree-huggin’, animal-lovin’ Bridget Pickwick-Buchanan is on a mission. Well, two. First she has to come to terms with being a widow at thirty-three. After all, it’s been four years and even her five-year-old niece and nephew think it’s time she shed her widow’s weeds. Second, she needs to find a buyer for her family’s estate—a Biltmore-inspired mansion surrounded by hundreds of acres of unspoiled forestland. With family obligations forcing the sale, Bridget is determined to find an eco-friendly developer to buy the land, someone who won’t turn it into single-family homes or a cheesy theme park.

Enter J. C. Dirk, a high-energy developer from Atlanta whose green property developments have earned him national acclaim. When he doesn’t return her calls, Bridget decides a personal visit is in order. Unfortunately, J. C. Dirk is neither amused nor interested when she interrupts his meeting—until she mentions her family name. In short order, he finds himself in North Carolina, and Bridget has her white knight—in more ways than one. But there are things Bridget doesn’t know about J. C., and it could mean the end of everything she’s worked for…and break her heart.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (July 19, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601421680
ISBN-13: 978-1601421685


Deep breath. “…and they lived…”

I can do this. It’s not as if I didn’t sense it coming. After all, I can smell an H.E.A. (Happily Ever After) a mile away—or, in this case, twenty-four pages glued between cardboard covers that feature the requisite princess surrounded by cute woodland creatures. And there are the words, right where I knew the cliché of an author would slap them, on the last page in the same font as those preceding them. Deceptively nondescript. Recklessly hopeful. Heartbreakingly false.

“Aunt Bridge,” Birdie chirps, “finish it.”

I look up from the once-upon-a-time crisp page that has been softened, creased, and stained by the obsessive readings in which hermother indulges her.

Eyes wide, cheeks flushed, my niece nods. “Say the magic words.” Magic?

More nodding, and is she quivering? Oh no, I refuse to be a party to this. I smile big, say, “The end,” and close the book. “So, how about another piece of weddin’ cake?”

“No!” She jumps off the footstool she earlier dubbed her “princess throne,” snatches the book from my hand, and opens it to the back. “Wight here!”

I almost correct her initial r-turned-w but according tomy sister, it’s developmental and the sound is coming in fine on its own, just as her other r’s did.

Birdie jabs the H, E, and A. “It’s not the end until you say the magic words.”

And I thought this the lesser of two evils—entertaining my niece and nephew as opposed to standing around at the reception as the bride and groom are toasted by all the happy couples, among them, cousin Piper, soon to be wed to my friend Axel, and cousin Maggie, maybe soon to be engaged to her sculptor man, what’s-his-name.

“Yeah,” Birdie’s twin,Miles, calls from where he’s once more hanging upside down on the rolling ladder I’ve pulled him off twice. “You gotta say the magic words.”

Outrageous! Even my dirt-between-the-toes, scab-ridden, snot-on-the-sleeve nephew is buying into the fantasy.

I spring from the armchair, cross the library, and unhook his ankles from the rung. “You keep doin’ that and you’ll bust your head wide open.” I set him on his feet. “And your mama will—

”No, Bonnie won’t.

“Well, she’ll be tempted to give you a whoopin’.”

Face bright with upside-down color, he glowers.

I’d glower back if I weren’t so grateful for the distraction he provided. “All right, then.” I slap at the ridiculously stiff skirt of the dress Maggie loaned me for my brother’s wedding. “Let’s rejoin the party—”

“You don’t wanna say it.”Miles sets his little legs wide apart. “Do ya?” So much for my distraction.

“You don’t like Birdie’s stories ’cause they have happy endings. And you don’t.”

I clench my toes in the painfully snug high heels on loan from Piper.

“Yep.”Miles punches his fists to his hips. “Even Mama says so.”

My own sister? I shake my head, causing the blond dreads Maggie pulled away from my face with a headband to sweep my back. “That’s not true.”

“Then say it wight now!” Birdie demands.

I peer over my shoulder at where she stands like an angry tin soldier, an arm outthrust, the book extended.

“Admit it,”Miles singsongs.

I snap around and catch my breath at the superior, knowing look on his five-year-old face. He’s his father’s son, all right, a miniature Professor Claude de Feuilles, child development expert.

“You’re not happy.” The professor in training, who looks anything but with his spiked hair, nods.

I know better than to bristle with two cranky, nap-deprived children, but that’s what I’m doing. Feeling as if I’m watching myself from the other side of the room, I cross my arms over my chest. “I’ll admit no such thing.”

“That’s ’cause you’re afraid. Mama said so.” Miles peers past me.

“Didn’t she, Birdie?”

Why is Bonnie discussing my personal life with her barely-out-of-diapers kids?

“Uh-huh. She said so.”

Miles’s smile is smug. “On the drive here, Mama told Daddy this day would be hard on you. That you wouldn’t be happy for Uncle Bart ’cause you’re not happy.”

Not true! Not that I’m thrilled with our brother’s choice of bride, but…come on! Trinity Templeton? Nice enough, but she isn’t operating on a full charge, which wouldn’t be so bad if Bart made up for the difference. Far from it, his past history with illegal stimulants having stripped him of a few billion brain cells.

“She said your heart is”—Miles scrunches his nose, as if assailed by a terrible odor—“constipated.”


“That you need an M&M, and I don’t think she meant the chocolate kind you eat. Probably one of those—”

“I am not constipated.” Pull back. Nice and easy. I try to heed my inner voice but find myself leaning down and saying, “I’m realistic.”

Birdie stomps the hardwood floor. “Say the magic words!”

“Nope.”Miles shakes his head. “Constipated.”

I shift my cramped jaw. “Re-al-is-tic.”


Pull back, I tell you! He’s five years old. “Just because I don’t believe in fooling a naive little girl into thinkin’ a prince is waiting for her at the other end of childhood and will save her from a fate worse than death and take her to his castle and they’ll live…” I flap a hand. “…you know, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me.”

Isn’t there? “It means I know better. There may be a prince, and he may have a castle, and they may be happy, but don’t count on it lasting. Oh no. He’ll get bored or caught up in work or start cheatin’—you know, decide to put that glass slipper on some other damsel’s foot or kiss another sleeping beauty—or he’ll just up and die like Easton—” No,
nothing at all wrong with you, Bridget Pickwick Buchanan, whose ugly widow’s weeds are showing.

“See!”Miles wags a finger.

Unfortunately, I do. And as I straighten, I hear sniffles.

“Now you done it!” Miles hustles past me. “Got Birdie upset.”

Sure enough, she’s staring at me with flooded eyes. “The prince dies? He dies and leaves the princess all alone?”The book falls from her hand, its meeting with the floor echoing around the library. Then she squeaks out a sob.

“No!” I spring forward, grimacing at the raspy sound the skirt makes as I attempt to reach Birdie before Miles.

He gets there first and puts an arm around her. A meltable moment, my mother would call it. After she gave me a dressing down. And I deserve one. My niece may be on the spoiled side and she may work my nerves, but I love her—even like her when that sweet streak of hers comes through. “It’s okay, Birdie,” Miles soothes. “The prince doesn’t die.”

Yes, he does, but what possessed me to say so? And what if I’ve scarred her for life?

Miles pats her head onto his shoulder. “Aunt Bridge is just”—he gives me the evil eye—“constipated.”

“Yes, Birdie.” I drop to my knees. “I am. My heart, that is. Constipated. I’m so sorry.”

She turns her head and, upper lip shiny with the stuff running out of her nose, says in a hiccupy voice, “The prince doesn’t die?” I grab the book from the floor and turn to the back. “Look. There they are, riding off into the sunset—er, to his castle. Happy. See, it says so.” I tap the H, E, and A.

She sniffs hard, causing that stuff to whoosh up her nose and my gag reflex to go on alert. “Weally happy, Aunt Bridge?”


“Nope.” Barely-there eyebrows bunching, she lifts her head from Miles’s shoulder. “Not unless you say it.”

Oh dear Go—No, He and I are not talking. Well, He may be talking, but I’m not listening.

“I think you’d better.” Miles punctuates his advice with a sharp nod.

“Okay.” I look down at the page. “…and they lived…” It’s just a fairy tale—highly inflated, overstated fiction for tykes. “…they lived happily…ever…after.”

Birdie blinks in slow motion. “Happily…ever…after. That’s a nice way to say it, like you wanna hold on to it for always.”

Or unstick it from the roof of your mouth. “The end.” I close the book, and it’s all I can do not to toss it over my shoulder. “Here you go.”

She clasps it to her chest. “Happily…ever…after.”

Peachy. But I’ll take her dreamy murmuring over tears any day. Goodness, I can’t believe I made her cry. I stand and pat the skirt back down into its stand-alone shape. “More cake?”

“Yay!” Miles charges past me.

Next time— No, there won’t be a next time. I’m done with Little Golden Books.

Excerpted from Restless in Carolina by Tamara Leigh Copyright © 2011 by Tamara Leigh. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

My thoughts: I loved that this book took place in the South! I'm a little biased since I'm a Southerner but it was fun to know the places referenced in the book. I enjoyed the Southern dialect and that whole element of the story. I found it funny in a creepy kind of way that Bridget had a possum for a pet. I've seen those up close and there's nothing cute about them. I really liked this book. I didn't know it was part of a series but overall, that didn't detract from it. The only negative is that I felt a little lost at times when other characters were mentioned because I had no background knowledge of them since I've not read the previous books. I liked J.C. and enjoyed "watching" his and Bridget's relationship. I smiled at the scene towards the end of the book with J.C.'s brother asking Bridget about her feelings for him. This was a sweet story with humor but also serious moments. I'd like to read the other two books and will be adding them to by "TBR" list.