Saturday, January 31, 2009

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday


Today's Question from My Friend Amy's Blog:

You have a good friend who is a devoted Christian and voracious reader. He or she, however, tried to read a Christian fiction book in the past and found it to be too preachy and unrealistic. Your friend wants to try it again and has asked you for a recommendation. Their favorite genre of book is what is considered literary fiction. What book would you recommend to them?

You also have a friend who is not a Christian but wants to read fiction that is considered clean without being too Christian. They have asked you if there are Christian fiction books that might meet their reading needs. They are interested in romance and novels. What book would you recommend to them?

OOOOh, picture me clapping with glee! I can't wait to read everyone's recommendations for the 2nd question. I thought I'd turn my mom onto Christian literature several years ago. Can you say, "bomb"? I gave her Karen Kingsbury's One Tuesday Morning & Beyond Tuesday Morning. I also gave her Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I believe she said, "They have too much about God in them." HELLO... they're Christian novels! And besides, what's so bad about having God in a book?! My mom is a huge Nora Roberts & Fern Nichols reader. I don't believe she ever read Francine's book. Sigh...


I guess I don't know what's meant by "literary fiction". I guess I would start with Dee Henderson's O'Malley series. There's a little something for everyone; intrigue, action, and romance. She doesn't pour on the liturgy and bible verbiage, but she is clearly writing Christian Fiction. I also like Susan May Warren's Noble Legacy series. She's got strong characters and fantastic storylines that are easy to get lost in.




As for person #2 I also thought about the Daughter's of Boston series. My concern was the overtly Christian character of Faith, who I love! This is the book that I've been thinking of sending to my mom since she is a romance genre kind of lady. Unfortunately, I think Faith's faith would turn my mom off! Ugh, what a terrible thing to know - adding a helping of God to a story could turn my mom off of a book! I understand it, but I don't. Then again, my mom doesn't believe the same way I do, so I guess she wouldn't fit into this #2 person category. For someone who isn't so into romance, I'd say James Scott Bell is a great read! His "Try" series is fantastic and could lead to more of his traditional Christian books. For sci-fi buffs, who can better exemplify this group except Sharon Hinck?! Love her. You get sucked into the Sword of Lyric series.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

By Your Side ~ Tenth Avenue North YouTube video

I share music videos and my thoughts on them because I've been affected by music and the words since I've been a Christian. I don't know how you feel about me blogging about the videos, but I hope you guys like them.

My newest video is from Tenth Avenue North. They are an amazing new band on the Christian music scene. These young guys have powerful messages in their songs. The song I'm going to share today is By Your Side. Their other popular song is Love is Here.

T.A.N. doesn't have an official video on YouTube for this song, but I love the fact that people create their own. I appreciate that the put the words up so we can read along.

Seriously, about this song, it sings what we're all going through. We're all striving for "stuff" as if God isn't enough. Which of us doesn't try to earn love? Can you imagine when we're in the trenches, Jesus coming up to us and lifting up our chins to look us in the eye. How much love would we see there? He's everything, all we'll ever need.

Why do we fight those hands that hold us? I think many times we don't realized we've shaken His grasp until we're in the depths of our sin. We just don't always know how to stay in those precious arms of love.

I am so thankful that He loves us, even when we've fallen. He'll never let us go. We've given our lives to Him and He will go to the ends of the earth for each one of us. Thank you Jesus for your nail scarred hands, your pierced and broken body that took on not just my sin but the sins of the entire world!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What's on your nightstand - January

What's On Your Nightstand


So, what's on my nightstand you ask? Oh, about 20 different books at this very moment! Most of them are review books!!!


Right now I'm reading 2 books. I was reading Hood by Stephen Lawhead. Since I'll be reviewing Tuck by Lawhead next month, I thought I'd try and blaze a trail. HA! This past week I saw little reading time so I'm barely through Book 1 that's over 475 pages. May as well return Scarlet to the library because I won't be getting to Book 2!
I am seriously enjoying this book! If you love tales of Robin Hood or anything of that genre, this is a series not to be missed. I haven't read any of Lawhead's books before, but I became an instant fan. After I finish Tuck I'll go back to read Scarlet. I think I'd need an entire Saturday guilt-free to read it before my Tuck review is due. The tale being weaved in this book is fantastic and I highly suggest it to anyone who enjoys getting lost in this time period.


I took a break from Hood starting yesterday because February is looming over me with 2 books to review on the first 2 days! Last night I started reading Scrapping Plans by Rebecca Seitz and then Lost in Las Vegas by Melody Carlson will be up next. Both of these books are reviewed for FIRST WildCard.


I also have 2 books that I'm personally going to review for authors:
Julie Klassen's newest book The Apothecary's Daughter. I'm so excited for this book! I loved her debut novel Lady of Milkweed Manor. I hope to read that and have a review for it the 2nd week of February. Need to get in touch with Julie!


The other book I just received is from Miralee Ferrell. It's called Love Finds You in Last Chance. I love the cover of her book and have had to hide it from my 15 yr old daughter. Anything with a horse on the front screams to be read by her. Hey, maybe she should do the review. :)
The rest of the books on my nightstand are all FIRST books for February:
  • Lessons From San Quentin by Bill Dallas
  • When God & Grief Meet by Lynn Eib
  • This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury
  • Spring of Candy Apples by Debbie Viguie
  • Tuck by Stephen Lawhead (hasn't arrived yet)
  • Daniel's Den by Brandt Dodson
  • SirBentley & Holbrook Court by Chuck Black

Yes, those are all for FIRST WildCard! Yikes. Think I outdid myself for February. I've totally cut back looking into March. This is too many for my brain and being a single mom!!! So long sleep for February! :) I'm excited for all of them though! Wahoo & happy reading...Head over to 5 Minutes of Reading to see what other people have on their bookshelves.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

call me the Movie Critic ~ "Wanted"

Baffling, that's all I can say. I just finished watching Wanted with Angelina Jolie & James McAvoy. When I saw the previews for it, I knew I wanted to see it. Yes, I'm a girl who likes action movies.


So, I throw the DVD in tonight and I was blown away. Ok, ask...ask me why. "Why?" There was so much swearing that I could hardly pay attention to the movie. I can't even begin to tally the number of times the *f* bomb was said. I understand that script writers believe movie goers can't get through a film without hearing at least a dozen swear words along with God's name taken in various ways.

What's the stinkin' point? The number of times the *f* word was said was waaay past what was necessary. Plugged-in Online (part of Focus on the Family) counted "...at least four dozen f-words...Two dozen s-words...". When is that helpful to a movie? When does that exorbitant amount add to the dialog or the intensity of the moment? Excessive swearing throughout an entire movie only takes away and makes it unwatchable.


Because I liked the premise of the movie, I watched about 1/2 the movie on regular speed. The rest I fast-farwarded. Man, I am so disappointed! This could've been such a fantastic movie! Add dialog the audience can comfortably and enjoyable sit through and I honestly believe they would've had more viewers.
James McAvoy is handsome and a great actor. Angelina Jolie is beautiful and fantastic in any action movie. I couldn't imagine anything better than seeing these two in a shoot 'em up movie. Yes, there was a lot of bloodshed and graphic violence. That wasn't surprising to me because I expected it, to a degree. It was more than I thought when I saw the trailers.

The movie has some pretty graphic sex scenes as well. Man, why didn't I read Plugged-in's review before I got it? Thankful I didn't spend a dime on it, unfortunately the Public Library did. What a waste of money.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

What's on my keeper shelf? Faith 'n Fiction Saturday


One thing we share in common is a love of books. I know there are participants of Faith 'n Fiction Saturdays that read over 200 books a year! But while we may read a lot of books, only a few books in our lifetimes are special enough that we would never part with them, always recommend them, and maybe even reread them.

So...what fiction books with faith elements are on your keeper shelf? Please keep your answers to no more than 5 books!


How fun that I get to share what's on my bookshelf. To cheat or not to cheat, that is the question. I can only share about 5 books? Painful. Well, I'm going to list 5 items:

  • My Cathy Marie Hake books. She is a house favorite. I threatened my daughter the other day w/ living at home when she goes to college if she lends 2 of my set out to a co-worker and they don't make it home! They mean more since Cathy has signed them!!

  • The Restorer series by Sharon Hinck is a fantastic set and I try to tell people about them all the time. Our book club read her first book and we all loved it. Then my 15 yr old daughter's book club read the series!

  • Julie Lessman's series Daughters of Boston is a no brainer on my end. I fell in love with this series w/ book 1 and plan to have every single book from Julie! I may need to have an entire shelf for her books, but that'll make me a happy lady.

  • My Janette Oke series' are old as the hills, but I'm so happy that I have them. I know they aren't modern and fast-paced chic-lit, but I love seeing them on my bookshelf. She sent & signed a book to me, oh, about 13-15 yrs ago. It was such a surprise and a blessing to me. It was so awesome when my girls were old enough to enjoy them.

  • Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. My one and only "single" on this list. I gave this to my mom, hoping she'd read it. Uh, that was a no go. I then re-purchased a copy for myself. This is the only book that I know of that I've replaced if I've given my copy away. This is a timeless novel w/ the redeeming love of Christ as the center of the story.

Oh, that was painful. I look at the books sitting on my shelf and feel bad for the books that weren't chosen. Of course I'd love to go back and change my answers, but then I'd feel bad all over again. Ugh, what was I thinking? My old Bronte collection is an absolute favorite. I have some seriously old copies of different books that I love to see just sitting on the shelf.

One thing I do to keep my bookshelf to a minimum is having the 1st book in a series. Would I love to have every book in a series if I could? Heck yah, but space is limited. Since I only have 2 bookshelves, the best I can do is at least have the starter books. Thankfully a lot of my books are stand alone. One day I'd love to have my own library. A wall (or 2) of built in shelves? Ahhh, a girl can dream!

~Mimi

Ok, I'm totally cheating and adding Kristen Heitzmann as one of my favorite authors!! How could I foget her? Ugh, back again...Tracie Peterson & either of the Judiths...love their books!!! I am such a CHEATER!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lifehouse "Hanging by a Moment"

There are so many fantastic Christian bands out these days! I think I lean more towards the alternative Christian, maybe? I certainly love Jeremy Camp & Casting Crowns. BarlowGirl & Superchic[k] are awesome bands as well. I could be more of a Contemporary Christian listener leaning towards the edgier stuff. Now, my oldest daughter loves all the music on Air1: Anberlin, Stellar Kart, and Switchfoot.

Have you head of Lifehouse? If you haven't, take a look into this fresh band! Hanging by a Moment is a song I think we can all relate to. Are you ever hanging, waiting for the Lord to speak to tell you what you should do next? Here are some of the words:

I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held onto
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you

I'm living for the only thing I know
I'm running and not quite sure where to go
And I don't know what I'm diving into
Just hanging by a moment here with you

Now, I don't know that this band would be labeled "Christian". I haven't heard many of their songs, but the ones I've heard are fantastic. Their lyrics are strong and meaningful. Several years ago they had a song called You and Me that was featured on Smallville. No, I didn't have that info tucked in my brain, I got it from their Facebook page.

Do you ever wish you were in a band? I don't necessarily mean for real, but that it'd be kind of cool. I always thought I'd love to play the guitar. Then I started listening to Jeremy Camp and I fell in love with the drums. In the "official" Hanging by a Moment video, I love watching the drummer. Let me clarify, I like watching his hands. He looks like he loves playing! Maybe I'll have to buy myself some drums! hahahaha I'm thankful that my 5 yr old wants to learn. I'll live vicariously through him and pick up his sticks while he's at school.

Unfortunately, Universal Studios embeds their videos on YouTube so you can't put them on any other sites. I'm putting up a version of their Hanging by a Moment video, but it's not what I would consider "official". I prefer the newer and completely changed (and financially backed?) video. I'd encourage you to visit YouTube to view Lifehouse's actual video of Hanging by a Moment. Their other video Whatever It Takes is a great song about being committed to making a relationship work and opening yourself up to being loved and known.







Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness ~ FIRST WildCard

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:


Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness

Paternoster (September 5, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Dr. Matthew S. Stanford is professor of psychology, neuroscience, and biomedical studies at Baylor University, where he also serves as the director of the Psychology Doctoral Program. He received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Baylor in 1992. After graduating from Baylor he completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Prior to returning to Baylor as a member of the staff in 2003, he was a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at the University of New Orleans.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Paternoster (September 5, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934068446
ISBN-13: 978-1934068441

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Fearfully and Wonderfully Made


The church we were involved with at the onset of my son’s [mental] illness did not respond to us when we requested that a team come out and pray over him. . . . We were looking for support and comfort, and the churches we encountered were

not equipped to give that to us because they did not seem to have a complete handle on what we were dealing with. We have fallen away from the church, but not from God. —Laurie, mother of a son diagnosed with schizophrenia


“The Scriptures tell us that in Christ we have everything we need for life and godliness, correct? So can you explain to me why Anna’s bipolar disorder and her dependence on medication is not an issue of weak faith or sin?”


Only two of us stayed after the church meeting that morning, talking over coffee. I was a deacon in the church at the time, and the man who asked the question was a friend and respected elder. The question took me by surprise, and initially I was speechless (a condition for which I am, unfortunately, not known). If you have a loved one with a mental illness—or you yourself struggle with the debilitating symptoms—your first reaction to such a question may have been more along the lines of sadness, disgust, or anger.


But in my friend’s defense, he sincerely wanted to understand something he saw as alien and frightening. Was Anna sick, or was she spiritually weak? We know from 2 Peter 1:3 that we do have “everything we need for life and godliness.” Yet, even though Anna professed Christ as Savior, her life was a mixture of family problems, shame, suffering, and strange behavior. How should the church respond?


Science and faith have had a long and tense relationship. A dangerous and damaging battle—a battle between faith and psychiatry/psychology—is being waged daily in churches throughout the world. And lives are being destroyed. Men and women with diagnosed mental illnesses are told they need to pray more and turn from their sin. Mental illness is equated with demon-possession, weak faith, and generational sin. The underlying cause of this stain on the church is a lack of knowledge, both of basic brain function and of scriptural truth.


Mental illness is a frightening experience, not only for the afflicted but also for those who witness an individual struggling with strange thoughts and behaviors. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages eighteen and older (one in four adults) suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.1 Centuries of tension between the church and the scientific community have made pastors and laypeople alike wary of adopting scientific explanations for behaviors and thoughts that, on the surface, may appear sinful (e.g., suicidal ideations).


Again, I believe that the lack of understanding in the church related to mental illness is rooted in spiritual ignorance and fear. So, let’s look first to God’s Holy Word to gain a better understanding of how we were created, what effects the Fall has had on our physical bodies and minds, and who we are in Christ.


How Are We Created?


We have been created in the very image of God (Genesis 1:26). We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). We are complex beings, unlike any other living creature: the union of a physical body with an immaterial mind and spirit. While each aspect is separate, in some sense, they are connected and affect one another. The Scriptures attest to this truth.


You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5)


My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. (Psalm 84:2)


And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)


Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23) (all emphases, author’s)


The Body


At one level we exist in a physical body so that we can interact with the physical world around us. Our heart pumps; our stomach and intestines digest; our muscles relax and contract; our lungs inhale and exhale; our brain cells fire. We are God’s creative masterpiece: a miracle of skin, bone, and blood formed from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). But at the same time we are so much more. We perceive. We think and reason. We pray.


There is also an immaterial, nonphysical aspect to our being—what some call our mind or soul.


The Mind


What is the mind? This question has baffled philosophers and scientists alike for thousands of years. Are our thoughts and perceptions merely the product of neurochemical changes and electrical discharges in our brain? Or is our mind something more—something immaterial, more than the sum of our parts? I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle. The functioning of our brain is integral to the existence of our mind, but that alone is not sufficient to explain it. Likewise, to imagine our mind as completely separate and unrelated to the physical does not seem correct either. Body and mind are intimately connected, each affecting the other. We retrieve a past memory of a fearful event in our mind, and our physiology reacts. Our sensory receptors are activated by familiar stimuli in the environment, and past thoughts and feelings rush to consciousness.


The Scriptures often speak of the mind. It is here that we . . .


Plan our actions

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)


Choose to sin

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so. (Romans 8:6–7)


Pray

What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing

with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. (1 Corinthians 14:15)


Receive revelation and understanding from God

Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:45)


Meditate on the truths of God

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2)


Are transformed by the indwelling Holy Spirit

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

(all emphases, author’s)


It is with our mind that we think and choose. It is our mind that controls our actions. And it is our mind that God wants to change through the process of sanctification, conforming us ever closer to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). A physical body formed by the hands of the Maker in union with an immaterial mind that controls and plans our behavior is a truly miraculous concept, though a difficult one to grasp. And the Scriptures teach us that we also have a third and even more amazing level of being, a spirit.


The Spirit


It is not uncommon for neuroscientists to talk and debate about the mind. We might use fancier words like consciousness or self-awareness to make it sound more “scientific,” but we are still talking about an immaterial, invisible aspect of our being. Things that can’t be seen make scientists uncomfortable. We don’t like to say that something is beyond our understanding or that it can’t be measured. We may admit that we don’t understand something presently but qualify our admission by saying that with enough study and the continued advancement of science we will one day. So to describe us as having a spirit, in addition to a mind and a body, seems almost heretical from a scientific perspective. But here is where we scientists must understand that Scripture is our ultimate authority and that it precisely describes our created being in the context of our relationship with God and our fellow human beings.


God created us as a unity of three parts, much like Himself. In our inmost being we are spirit, the very breath of God placed into a shell of dust (Genesis 2:7). That is how we differ from the other living creatures: both were created from the ground (Genesis 2:7, 19), but only humanity is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). I like the way Paul Brand and Philip Yancey describe it in their book In His Image:


“And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (2:7).


When I heard that verse as a child, I imagined Adam lying on the ground, perfectly formed but not yet alive, with God leaning over him and performing a sort of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Now I picture that scene differently. I assume that Adam was already biologically alive—the other animals needed no special puff of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide to start them breathing, so why should man? The breath of God now symbolizes for me a spiritual reality. I see Adam as alive, but possessing only an animal vitality. Then God breathes into him a new spirit, and infills him with His own image. Adam becomes a living soul, not just a living body. God’s image is not an arrangement of skin cells or a physical shape, but rather an inbreathed spirit.2


Our body, while we see it as our true identity, is little more than a container for our true essence, which is spirit (2 Corinthians 5:1). It is in our spirit that we have the opportunity to be in union with the very God of the universe (Proverbs 20:27; Romans 8:16).


Bringing It All Together


So how does all this work together—body, mind, and spirit? Let’s look at a simple visual representation. Figure 1 shows three concentric circles, each separate but interacting with the one above and/or below. The outermost circle represents the body, which is in contact with the earthly environment (outside) and the mind. The middle circle is the mind, which is connected to the body through the functions of the brain and nervous system but also in contact with our immaterial spirit (the innermost circle). The body senses and reacts to the external environment; and the mind uses that information to perceive, understand, and interpret our surroundings. The mind also forms our thoughts and plans our actions. The spirit, when connected to God, works to transform the mind into the very image of Christ, which results in an ever-increasing display of godly behaviors through the body.


We are an amazing creation! The physical (body) interacting with the immaterial (mind/spirit). Physical beings designed to be in an intimate communion with the very Creator of the universe, who is spirit (John 4:24). That is how we were created, and that is how it was supposed to be. But humanity fell (sinned), and the consequences of our disobedience are felt every day, both spiritually and physically.


How Have We Been Affected by the Fall?


After the shock had worn off, I thought for a minute about how to respond to my friend’s question about Anna. I asked him, “Do you know anyone who has heart disease and regularly takes medication?”


He said that he did, but before I could continue, he asked me if I was trying to say that Anna’s bipolar disorder and heart disease were somehow the same. Throughout this book, I will try to answer that question. How are they the same? How do they differ? But first we need to answer a more foundational question: What are the results of man’s sin?


When a follower of Jesus Christ is asked that question, he or she will often quote Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Such a response correctly points out that spiritual death, or separation from God, is the result of sin. As children of Adam, we are sinful by nature and therefore spiritually dead and separated from God at birth (Romans 5:12).


I have always thought it strange, however, that the answer to the question rarely goes beyond the spiritual. Clearly, spiritual death resulted from our sin. But what about the other aspects of our being, our mind and body? How were they affected by the Fall? I have suggested that the Scriptures describe us as a three-part being, with each part interacting with and affecting the others. If that is true, then our sin must have also adversely affected our mind and body. I’m not saying that this truth is completely unknown in the church today. Plainly, the Bible teaches us that we are fully defiled by sin (body, mind, and spirit)—caught in what some theologians call “total depravity” (see Romans 3:12). Yet the church emphasizes the spiritual effects of sin while minimizing or disregarding the mental and physical effects. As I stated above, I think this results from a misunderstanding of what the Scriptures teach about how we have been created.


Birth


At birth, we are physically alive but spiritually dead. We are born with an imperfect body, scarred as the result of generations of sin. On the day that Adam and Eve fell, they forfeited their intimate relationship with God, and they became mortal. And we were placed at the mercy of the environment and natural biological processes that wreak havoc on our bodies and minds. But as Jesus teaches in the story of the man born blind, each time we struggle with illness and physical weakness is an opportunity for “the works of God” to be “displayed” (John 9:1–3).


Growth


When Adam and Eve fell, we were forced to fend for ourselves in a hostile and fallen world. Look at figure 2 to get a better idea of how and why we think and act the way we do. As we grow and mature, our body and mind learn to interact with and react to our fallen environment, all the while spiritually separated from God by our sin. The body, physically affected by the Fall, gathers sensations and stimuli from the earthly environment (small black arrows). Our mind, knowing only sin because of our separation from God, chooses to satisfy itself by the “If it feels good, do it” lifestyle, or what we in psychology call the pleasure principle. In doing so, it associates normal physiological reactions and sensations with lustful desires and wants, causing impure thoughts to come to mind almost instantly in common, everyday situations (James 1:14–15). It is in our mind that we choose to sin (2 Corinthians 10:5); and it is with our body (Ephesians 2:3), or “members” (Romans 7:23), that we act out our sinful thoughts (large black arrows). This process is altered only in the individual who comes to a saving faith in Christ Jesus, and even then that believer continues to struggle with a sinfully programmed mind and body (Romans 7:14–25).


In addition to the sinful desires that attempt to control us, another result of sin is physical death and decay.


Physical Death


God told Adam that in the day he ate from the forbidden tree he would surely die (Genesis 2:16–17); and while He certainly meant this in the spiritual sense, He also meant it in the physical sense. The moment that Adam disobeyed he began to age and decay (Genesis 3:19). Physical death came a little closer each day of his life, and so it continues for us. In fact, the Scriptures tell us that the whole of the physical creation was affected by our sin and longs for the day of redemption (Romans 8:19–22). Our bodies are damaged because of sin. We age. We get sick. We suffer physically and die because the physical creation has been affected by the Fall.


However, while we were all born “dead in sin,” which affected our body, mind, and spirit, there is an amazing truth for those who have been “born again”: we are new creations in Christ; the old things have passed away; the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17)!


Our Identity in Christ


Have you ever thought about what it means that you are a “new creation”? It means that you have been fundamentally changed; what you were before becoming a Christian no longer exists. That is not how I used to see myself. I lived Sunday to Sunday, holding on to some kind of faith-based fire insurance that I could turn in at my death in order to get into heaven. I certainly didn’t see myself as Paul describes the believer in Ephesians 1, having every spiritual blessing. I now recognize that as a believer in Jesus Christ I was chosen before the foundation of the world; predestined for adoption as a son of the living God; purchased out of slavery to sin and death; forgiven of all my sins—past, present, and future; given spiritual wisdom and revelation; and marked as such until the day that I stand before Him holy and blameless.


Do you see yourself that way? If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then that is exactly how God sees you—whether you accept it or not. It doesn’t matter if you are struggling with mental illness. You are a new creation in Christ if you have received Him by faith. And we who minister to those who struggle with mental illness should remember that they are His chosen children, if they are in Christ, and they should be treated as such.


A Transformed Life


We were born with a fallen nature, which we received from our ancestral father Adam. But when a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ, he or she is “crucified”! The “old self” is nailed to the cross with Christ, never to return (Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20). God gives us His Spirit; Christ’s very life takes up residence in us (Colossians 3:1–3). We have His righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9) and a new, Christlike nature (Ephesians 4:24). Spiritually, we sit at the very right hand of God Almighty (Ephesians 2:6).


So, just like my friend said, as believers we are complete in Christ, having everything we need for life and godliness in Him (2 Peter 1:3). That is true in the spiritual realm, but remember that we are a unity of three parts. What happens to our body and mind after we are transformed in the spirit?


Being Conformed to the Image of Christ


You were born affected by sin, and you lived some period of time before coming to Christ. Consequently, you have habits, thought patterns, and biological predispositions that are the result of your old self. This “sinful flesh” does not disappear because you have been given a new life. But change is now possible, whereas before it was not.


Let’s look at figure 3 to help understand our new life. We now see, in the inner circle, the very life of Christ within us. The Scriptures teach us that we are to submit ourselves to Christ, allowing Him to transform our minds (Romans 12:1–2). In the diagram this is represented by the small white arrowheads. As our minds are transformed and our thoughts are taken captive to Christ, He begins to take control of the “members” of our body (symbolized by the three large, black-and-white arrows), and our behaviors change (Colossians 3:5–10).


Why Write This Book?


At this point you may be saying to yourself, I thought this book was about mental illness and Christianity. When are you going to talk about my son’s disorder? I need to know what to do! Why am I having these thoughts and feelings? I don’t want to be like this!


Those emotional responses, and many more like them, are why this book has been written. But beyond that, I have seen the limitations of psychiatry and psychology firsthand.


As a research scientist studying human aggression, I see the results of the Fall every day—broken men and women who want to behave differently but feel as if they have lost control of themselves, wives who fear their husbands, children who seem destined to repeat the sins of their fathers. In my laboratory, we test the effectiveness of different medications on aggressive behavior. In many instances the treatments are successful: the patient’s aggressive behavior is reduced in intensity and frequency. But is that enough if the person still does not know Christ? The medication treats only the physical effects of the Fall. The mental effects often remain; and if the patient does not know Christ, so does his or her spiritual separation from God.


I hope this chapter has shown you that we have been affected by sin at all three levels of our being. Both believers and nonbelievers carry the physical and mental effects of sinful programming. Fortunately, believers have been transformed in their inner being and are righteous before their Maker. But that does not instantaneously remove the sinful “flesh” we still carry around. Sanctification is a process by which our minds are transformed through submission to Christ. Biological defects and weaknesses do not go away by themselves, no matter how much we want them to or have faith that they will. God can certainly choose to heal us supernaturally, and in some cases He does so. But we should see our weaknesses as an opportunity to grow in our faith (2 Corinthians 12:7–10; James 1:2–4). Like the man born blind, we are flawed so that “the works of God might be displayed” in us (John 9:3).


1. Ronald C. Kessler et al., “Prevalence, Severity, and Comorbidity of Twelve-Month DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), Archives of General Psychiatry 62 (2005): 617–27.


2. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, In His Image (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987), 22.



I was personally invested in Grace for the Afflicted. In recent years it seems so many people are being diagnosed with this disorder or that disorder. On top of that, to have the church not supporting it's members through their suffering is a devastating blow.

Dr. Matthew S. Stanford gives a wonderful perspective on mental and physical ailments. Because I have lived with ADD for at least 25 yrs, I appreciated reading his thoughts on this topic. To be quite honest, I wasn't sure how he was going to address this issue since it isn't exactly referred to scripturally. With ADD, he said exactly how those of us with this disorder need to be treated by members of society, our families, and our church body; with encouragement.

As soon as I read that statement, I couldn't believe how the truth of his statement just washed over me! My 15 yr old daughter suffers from ADD as well, and a close friend of mine for years has told me I need to encourage her. Mary was saying that from a friend standpoint, not a clinical one. But, I have to admit, those of us with ADD are not easy to encourage. In fact, we have a tendency to do so many things "wrong" that the last thing anyone around us wants to do is encourage us! Trust me, I lived with it as a child and now I'm dealing with it as a mom.

Dr. Stanford's book is not what I would call light reading. It is based on biblical examples and scripture. This would make a fantastic contribution to the library of any pyschologist. If you know of someone dealing with a mental or physical health disorder, I would highly suggest this book. I would also encourage pastors and lay leaders to pick up this book and learn more about the numerous disorders covered in this book. I believe it is a reliable resource.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Red Siren by M.L. Tyndall ~ FIRST WildCard

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:


The Red Siren

Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Best-selling author of The Legacy of the King’s Pirates series, MaryLu Tyndall writes full time and makes her home with her husband, six children, and four cats on California’s coast. Her passion is to write page-turning, romantic adventures that not only entertain but expose Christians to their full potential in Christ.

For more information on MaryLu and her upcoming releases, please visit her website.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 318 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602601569
ISBN-13: 978-1602601567

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.

Matthew 13: 20-21

Chapter 1


August 1713, English Channel off Portsmouth, England


This was Dajon Waite’s last chance. If he didn’t sail his father’s merchant ship and the cargo she held safely into harbor, his future would be tossed to the wind. With his head held high, he marched across the deck of the Lady Em and gazed over the choppy seas of the channel, expecting at any minute to see the lights of Portsmouth pierce the gray shroud of dusk. Another hour and his mission would be completed with success. It had taken two years before his father had trusted him to captain the most prized vessel in his merchant fleet, the Lady Em—named after Dajon’s mother, Emily—especially on a journey that had taken him past hostile France and Spain and then far into the pirate-infested waters off the African coast.

Fisting his hands on his hips, Dajon puffed out his chest and drew a deep breath of salty air and musky earth—the smell of home. Returning with a shipload of ivory, gold, and pepper from the Gold Coast, Dajon could almost see the beaming approval on his father’s sea-weathered face. Finally Dajon would prove himself an equal to his older brother, Theodore—obedient, perfect Theodore—who never let his father down. Dajon, however, had been labeled naught but capricious and unruly, the son who possessed neither the courage for command nor the brains for business.

Fog rolled in from the sea, obscuring the sunset into a dull blend of muted colors as it stole the remaining light of what had been a glorious day. Bowing his head, Dajon thanked God for His blessing and protection on the voyage.

“A sail, a sail!” a coarse voice blared from above.

Plucking the spyglass from his belt, Dajon held it to his eye. “Where away, Mules?”

“Directly off our lee, Captain.”

Dajon swerved the glass to the port and adjusted it as Cudney, his first mate, halted beside him.

“She seems to be foundering, Captain,” Mules shouted.

Through the glass, the dark outline of a ship came into focus, the whites of her sails stark against the encroaching night. Gray smoke spiraled up from her quarterdeck as sailors scrambled across her in a frenzy. The British flag flapped a harried plea from her mainmast.

“Hard to larboard,” he yelled aft, lowering the glass. “Head straight for her, Mr. Nelson.”

“Straight for her, sir.”

“Beggin’ your pardon, Captain.” Cudney gave him a sideways glance. “But didn’t your father give explicit orders never to approach an unknown vessel?”

“My father is not the captain of this ship, and I’ll thank you to obey my orders without question.” Dajon stiffened his lips, tired of having his decisions challenged. True, he had failed on two of his father’s prior ventures—one to the West Indies where a hurricane sunk his ship, and the other where he ran aground on the shoals off Portugal. Neither had been his fault. But this time, things would be different. Perhaps his father would even promote Dajon to head overseer of his affairs.

With a nod, Cudney turned. “Mr. Blake, Mr. Gibes, prepare to luff, if you please.” His bellowing voice echoed over the decks, sending the men up the shrouds.

“Who is she?” Cudney held out his hand for the glass.

“A merchant ship, perhaps.” Dajon handed him the telescope then gripped the railing as the Lady Em veered to larboard, sending a spray of seawater over her decks. “But she’s British, and she’s in trouble.”

The ship lumbered over the agitated waves. Dajon watched Cudney as he steadied the glass on his eye and his boots on the sodden deck. He’d been a good first mate and a trusted friend. A low whistle spilled from his mouth as he twisted the glass for a better look.

“Pray tell, Mr. Cudney, what has caught your eye, one of those new ship’s wheels you’ve been coveting?”

“Nay, Captain. But something nearly as beautiful—a lady.”

Dajon snatched the glass back as the Lady Em climbed a rising swell and then tromped down the other side. Sails snapped in the rising wind above him. Bracing his boots on the deck, he focused the glass on the merchant ship. A woman clung to the foremast, terror distorting her lovely features. She raised a delicate hand to her forehead as if she were going to faint. Red curls fluttered in the wind behind her. Heat flooded Dajon despite the chill of the channel. Lowering the glass, he tapped it into the palm of his hand, loathing himself for his shameless reaction. Hadn’t his weakness for the female gender already caused enough pain?

Yet clearly the vessel was in trouble.

“We shall come along side her,” Dajon ordered.

Cudney glared at the ship. “Something is not right. I can feel it in my gut.”

“Nonsense. Where is your chivalry?” Dajon smiled grimly at his friend, ignoring the hair bristling on the back of his own neck.

Cudney’s dark eyes shot to Dajon. “But your father—”

“Enough!” Dajon snapped. “My father did not intend for me to allow a lady to drown. Besides, pirates would not dare sail so close to England—especially to Portsmouth, where so many of His Majesty’s warships are anchored.” Dajon glanced back at the foundering ship, now only half a knot off their bow. Smoke poured from her waist, curling like a snake into the dark sky. Left to burn, the fire would sink her within an hour. “Surely you do not suspect a woman of piracy?”

Cudney cocked one brow. “Begging your pardon, Captain, but I have seen stranger things on these seas.”

***

Faith Louise Westcott flung her red curls behind her and held a quivering hand to her breast, nausea rising in her throat at her idiotic display. How did women feign such weakness without losing the contents of their stomachs?

“They ’ave taken the bait, mistress.” A sinister chuckle filled the breeze.

“Oh, thank heavens.” Faith released the mast. Planting a hand on her hip, she gave Lucas a mischievous grin. “Well, what are you waiting for? Ready the men.”

“Aye, aye.” The bulky first mate winked, and then scuttled across the deck, his bald head gleaming in the light from the lantern hanging on the mainmast.

After checking the pistol stuffed in the sash of her gown and the one strapped to her calf, Faith sauntered to the railing to get a better look at her latest victim, a sleek, two-masted brigantine. The orange, white, and blue of the Dutch flag fluttered from her mizzen. A very nice prize indeed. One that would bring her even closer to winning the private war she waged—a war for the survival of her and her sisters.

The oncoming ship sat low in the water, its hold no doubt packed with valuable cargo. Faith grinned. With this ship and the one she had plundered earlier, loaded with precious spices and silks, she was well on her way to amassing the fortune that would provide for her independence and that of her sisters—at least the two of them that were left unfettered by matrimony.

She allowed her thoughts to drift for a moment to Charity, the oldest. Last year their father had forced her into a union with Lord Villement, a vile, perverse man who had oppressed and mistreated her beyond what a woman should endure. Faith feared for her sister’s safety and prayed for God to deliver Charity, but to no avail.

Then, of course, there was the incident with Hope, their younger sister.

That was when Faith had stopped praying.

She would rather die than see her two younger sisters fettered to abusive men, and the only way to avoid that fate was to shield them with their own fortune. Cringing, she stifled the fury bubbling in her stomach. She mustn’t think of it now. She had a ship to plunder, and this was as much for Charity as it was for any of them.

The bowsprit of the brigantine bowed in obedience to her as it plunged over the white-capped swells. Gazing into the hazy mist, Faith longed to get a peek at the ninnies who had been so easily duped by her ruse but dared not raise the spyglass to her eye. Women didn’t know how to use such contraptions, after all.

Putting on her most flirtatious smile, she waved at her prey, beckoning the fools onward, then she scanned the deck as her crew rushed to their stations. Aboard her ship, she was in control; she was master of her life, her future—here and nowhere else. And oh how she loved it!

Lucas’s large frame appeared beside her. “The rest of the men be waitin’ yer command below hatches, mistress.” He smacked his oversized lips together in a sound Faith had become accustomed to before a battle. Nodding, she scanned her ship. Wilson manned the helm, Grayson and Lambert hovered over the fire, pretending to put it out, and Kane and Mac clambered up the ratlines in a pretense of terror. She spotted Morgan pacing the special perch Faith had nailed into the mainmast just for him. She whistled and the red macaw halted, bobbed his head up and down, and squawked, “Man the guns, man the guns!”

Faith chuckled. She had purchased the bird from a trader off Morocco and named him after Captain Henry Morgan, the greatest pirate of all time. The feisty parrot had been a fine addition to her crew.

Bates, her master gunner, hobbled to her side, wringing his thick hands together in anticipation. “Can I just fire one shot at ’em, Cap’n? The guns grow cold from lack of use.” His expression twisted into a pout that reminded her of Hope, her younger sister. “I won’t hurt ’em none, ye have me word.”

“I cannot take that chance, Bates. You know the rules,” Faith said as the gunner’s soot-blackened face fell in disappointment. “No one gets hurt, or we abandon the prize. But I promise we shall test the guns soon enough.”

With a grunt, Bates wobbled away and disappeared below.

Returning her gaze to her unsuspecting prey, Faith inhaled a breath of the crisp air. Smoke bit her throat and nose, but she stifled a cough as the thrill of her impending victory charged through her, setting every nerve aflame. The merchant ship was nigh upon them. She could already make out the worried expressions upon the crew’s faces as they charged to her rescue.

This is for you, Charity, and for you, Mother.

Heavy fog blanketed the two ships in gray that darkened with each passing minute. Faith tugged her shawl tighter against her body, both to ward off the chill and to hide the pistol in her sash. A vision of her mother’s pale face formed in the fog before her, blood marring the sheets on the birthing bed where she lay.

Take care of your sisters, Faith.

A burst of wind chilled Faith’s moist cheeks. A tear splattered onto the deck by her shoes before she brushed the rest from her face. “I will, Mother. I promise.”

“Ahoy there!” A booming voice shattered her memories.

She raised her hand in greeting toward the brigantine as it heaved ten yards off their starboard beam. “Ahoy, kind sir. Thank God you have arrived in time,” she yelled back, sending the sailors scurrying across the deck. Soon, they lowered a cockboat, filled it with men, and shoved off.

A twinge of guilt poked at Faith’s resolve. These men had come to her aid with kind intentions. She swallowed hard, trying to drown her nagging conscience. They were naught but rich merchants, she told herself, and she, merely a Robin Hood of the seas, taking from the rich to feed the poor. She had exhausted all legal means of acquiring the money she needed, and present society offered her no other choice.

The boat thumped against her hull, and she nodded at Kane and Mac, who had jumped down from the shrouds and tossed the rope ladder over the side.

“Permission to come aboard?” The man who appeared to be the captain shouted toward Lucas as he swung his legs over the bulwarks, but his eyes were upon Faith.

By all means. Faith shoved a floppy fisherman’s hat atop her head, obscuring her features from his view, and smiled sweetly.

***

“Aye, I beg ye, be quick about it afore our ship burns to a cinder,” the massive bald man beckoned to Dajon.

Dajon hesitated. He knew he should obey his father’s instructions, he knew he shouldn’t risk the hoard of goods in his hold, he knew he should pay heed to the foreboding of dread that now sank like a anchor in his stomach, but all he could see was the admiring smile of the red-haired beauty, and he led his men over the bulwarks.

After directing them to assist in putting out the fire, he marched toward the dark, bald man and bowed.

“Captain Dajon Waite at your service.”

When his gaze drifted to the lady, she slunk into the shadows by the foremast, her features lost beneath the cover of her hat. Odd. Somehow he had envisioned a much warmer reception. At the very least, some display of feminine appreciation.

“Give ’em no quarter! Give ’em no quarter!” a shrill voice shrieked, drawing Dajon’s attention behind him to a large red parrot perched on a peg jutting from the mainmast.

A pinprick of fear stabbed him.

“Captain,” one of his crew called from the quarterdeck. “The ship ain’t on fire. It’s just a barrel with flaming rubbish inside it!”

The anchor that had sunk in Dajon’s stomach dropped into his boots with an ominous clank.

He spun back around, hoping for an explanation, but all he received was a sinister grin on the bald man’s mouth.

Tentacles of alarm seized Dajon, sucking away his confidence, his reason, his pride. Surely he could not have been this daft. He glanced back at the Lady Em, bobbing in the sea beside them—the pride of his father’s fleet.

“To battle, men!” The woman roared in a voice belying her gender—a voice that pummeled Dajon’s heart to dust.

Dozens of armed pirates spat from the hatches onto the deck. Brandishing weapons, they hurtled toward his startled crew. One by one, his men dropped their buckets to the wooden planks with hollow thuds and slowly raised their hands. Their anxious gazes shot to Dajon, seeking his command. The pirates chortled. Dajon’s fear exploded into a searing rage. They were surrounded.

The woman drew a pistol from her sash. Dajon could barely make out the tilted lift of her lips. He wiped the sweat from his brow and prayed to God that he would wake up from this nightmare.

“I thank you, Captain, for your chivalrous rescue.” The woman pointed her pistol at him and cocked it with a snap. “But I believe I’ll be taking over your ship.”

I have to say I'm an all out M.L. Tyndall fan! I remember a blogger recently asking if we could go back to any period of time, where would we go? I figured back to the American 1800's or England about the same time. Well, if I could go back in time and be just like one of MaryLu's characters, that's exactly where I'd go!

I've always appreciated the strength of the female characters. They are smart, witty and have an inner strength that is commendable. Of course, the men these women come up against are just as strong. These two dynamic characters always create a whirlwind.

In her first book The Red Siren we meet Dajon. He is captaining his father's ship when he is attacked by a pirate, a woman pirate. She overtakes his ship and he is left to explain the loss to his father.

Next we meet Faith and her family. Her father has just brought them to Charles Towne to live. Unfortunately, he knows he will be leaving and asks a Captain under his command to watch over his daughters while he is gone. That captain turns out to be Dajon. I know that's no surprise to the reader, but it certainly is to Faith.

Faith's main goal in life is to find a way to keep her sisters and herself from having a forced marriage like their oldest sister. Her father doesn't believe she'll ever be able to care for herself and as he's leaving lets her know that when he returns she will be marrying Sir Wilhelm Carteret, a complete dufus! So, Faith knows she needs to plunder a couple more ships before her father returns from sea.

Let the games begin! Faith has to overtake the ships that Dajon has been ordered to protect. As Faith begins to see Dajon's character, it becomes harder to go against him. Dajon on the other hand can't seem to figure Faith out. One moment she's distant and closed off, the next she's sweet and aluring. He thinks she might be the Red Siren, but how in the world could those two seemingly different women be one and the same?

Tyndall has done obvious research into the time period and terminology. She uses ship terms easily and helps the reader to feel like they're on the ship. If you enjoy high seas adventure, this time with a woman at the helm, check out MaryLu's new series Charles Towne Belles.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Time for some giveaways: 2 Books

I know it's been forever since I gave away any books so I'm ready to give a couple away.

Book 1 is I'm Not Crazy, but i might be a carrier by Charles Marshall. You can check out the FIRST chapter & my review here:
http://wovenbywords.blogspot.com/2008/08/first-tour-of-im-not-crazy-but-i-might.html

Charles Marshall began his career onstage as a singer/songwriter. When his singing voice gave out, he turned to stand-up comedy and was much more successful. He is now a nationally syndicated Christian humor columnist and has contributed to Focus on the Family magazine. He is the author of Shattering the Glass Slipper: Destroying Fairy Tale Thinking Before It Destroys You and has filmed two stand-up comedy videos, I'm Just Sayin' and Fully Animated.


Book 2 is Losing Control & Liking It by Tim Sanford. This is a great resource for people who have teens, preadolescent kids, and kids who might be having a hard time making good choices. I jsut reviewed this book on Jan 8th so you can click on the link below to read the first chapter and see my review.

http://wovenbywords.blogspot.com/2009/01/losing-control-liking-it-by-tim-sanford.html

If you have ever done the Growing Kids God's Way series, you will see some similarities throughout this book. It's not a big book and it's not overwhelming with information. It's a great resource.

So, how do you win these two books? Leave me a post letting me know if you "might be a carrier" of craziness OR if you have issues with letting go, especially with your children.
Leave me your email so I can contact you if you win. Please make it so we don't have to deal with spammers: mnjesusfreak at gmail dot com (or something similar). Without the email, there's no entry, sorry. Please, US residents only. I will draw a name on Jan 23, later in the evening since I work. I will contact the winner and also leave a notice at the top of my blog. Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Fray

The Fray is a new band to me. I have to admit I've only heard a couple of their songs, but I really enjoy their sound. I saw them last night on the Jimmy Kimmel show. I was flippin' channels and heard a voice that was familiar to me. I flipped back and realized The Fray was playing live.

The only way I knew it was them was I had just watched their How to Save a Life video online! Great timing on my part. The first song they sang on Kimmel was You Found Me. I realize their songs aren't God based, but I swear you could insert the Lord into their songs. Looking at Wikipedia, whoever left the info there states that Isaac Slade (lead singer), along with Joe King, went to Faith Christian Academy in Colorado! How awesome is that?

I think once you hear The Fray, you'll be hooked. Slade has a unique sound and you could pick him singing out of a crowd. The band as a whole create distinctive music that sets them apart from other alternative rock bands. This is a band that will be around for a long time. Their newest, self-titled album The Fray comes out 02.03.09

You can click on these links to view their actual videos on YouTube because they wouldn't allow embedded videos. How To Save A Life and You Found Me are the two songs I have listened to and thought were excellent! Ok, checkin' out the videos on YouTube, I've found 2 guys, Boyce Avenue, who remake songs and they did a great job so I'm going to include their version of How To Save a Life.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Bishop's Daughter by Tiffany L. Warren ~ FIRST WildCard

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:


The Bishop's Daughter

Grand Central Publishing (January 9, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Tiffany L. Warren is a technology manager who lives in suburban Cleveland, Ohio with her husband and four children. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Farther Than I Meant to Go, Longer Than I Meant to Stay.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (January 9, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446195146
ISBN-13: 978-0446195140

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Darrin

I'm snatched from my sleep by voices.

They're coming from the living room. The first voice is Shayna, my lover, although she likes to be called my girlfriend. She is not my girlfriend. Haven't had one of those since high school.

The other voice is coming from the television. It's way too loud, but not unfamiliar. I concentrate for a moment until familiarity becomes recognition. The voice belongs to that preacher Shayna likes to watch every Sunday morning.

Is it Sunday already?

I start a mental rewind in an attempt to recapture my weekend. Friday was standard. Edited a short story for a girl in my writer's group. She's entering a romance writer's contest, and wanted my opinion.

I didn't give it to her, because I'm possibly interested in sleeping with her. I told her that the uninspired farce was poetic prose. She won't win the contest, but she won't blame it on me. She'll accuse the judges of being amateurs and then come cry on my shoulder. I'll have tissues on hand – right along with the strawberries and champagne.

Also had lunch with Priscilla. My mother. The obligatory "good son" lunch that keeps me on the family payroll. I call her Priscilla behind her back, but never to her face. She's petite, cultured and polished but not above going upside a brotha's head.

We had the same conversation we have every week.

"Darrin, when are you coming to work for your father?"

"The day after never."

"You always say that."

"And I always mean it."

I love my mother, but I hate this conversation.

My father, Mathis Bainbridge, wants me to work in an office at Bainbridge Transports, shuffling papers, giving orders, and hiring overqualified people at ridiculously insulting rates of pay. He calls his company the 'family business' but only one person in our three person familia is interested in shuttling elderly people to doctor's appointments and on shopping trips.

It's not Priscilla and it's not me.

"You coming to church with me on Sunday?" Mother had also asked.

I'd let out a frustrated sigh. "I'll see."

My sporadic church attendance is Priscilla's other favorite topic.

"Don't you love Jesus?"

"Yes, Mother. I love Jesus."

That wasn't a lie. I do love Jesus. I just cannot say no to a woman who wants me to take her to bed and I have yet to hear a preacher tell me how.

Priscilla was extra irritated at our lunch date. She got borderline vulgar. "But you're willing to go to hell over some girl's dirty panties?"

I'd laughed then, and I'm still laughing. In Priscilla speak 'dirty panties' was tantamount to cursing me out.

I'd replied, "Mother, please watch your language."

Saturday was worse. I'd spent the entire muggy and rainy afternoon at a 10K marathon to benefit cancer research. Put on a fake smile and interviewed the sweaty first-place winner, asking him questions that no one wanted answers to, all the while thinking to myself, 'Why am I doing this?'

There was a time when I was excited to have comma writer after my name. You know, Darrin Bainbridge, writer. But the glamour that I'd envisioned has not yet materialized, and the less money I make with freelance journalism, the more my father threatens to chain me to a desk.

Then, when I should have been winding down for the weekend I blogged. Blogging is what narcissistic writers do when they don't have a book deal. Yeah, I'm just a bit narcissistic. Besides, people like to read what I think about social injustice, celebrities and whatever else. Ten thousand hits a day on my blogsite can't be wrong.

The thing I love about blogging is that I'm anonymous. Like, last week I wrote a piece on Jesse Jackson and how he's more of a threat to African American progress than the KKK. Then, I chilled with him at a networking function the same night. No harm, no foul.

Since I can no longer drown out the television or Shayna's 'Hallelujahs', I open my eyes and concede to starting the day. I stretch, take a deep breath, and grin at the memory of last night. Shayna's perfume lingers in the air. A fruity Victoria's Secret fragrance purchased by me for my benefit, but disguised as a spur-of-the-moment romantic and thoughtful gift. Yeah…I don't do those. But Shayna was pleased. So pleased that she stayed the night in my den of iniquity and is now watching church on television instead of getting her shout on in a pew.

I jump out of the bed in one motion, landing on the ice cold ceramic tiles. My pedicured toes curl from the drastic temperature change. Yes, a brotha likes his feet smooth. Hands too. What?

My apartment is slamming, and the furniture baller style – especially for someone with such a low income. If it wasn't for the deep pockets of my parents, blogging and freelance writing would pretty much have me living in semi-poverty. But my mother makes sure that I have the best of the best, and a monthly allowance. I keep thinking that at twenty-eight, I might be too old for a $6000 a month allowance. I'd be satisfied with less, but I'm not turning anything down. Priscilla's generosity (behind my father's back, of course) allows me to pursue my dreams, whatever they might be.

I pull on a pair of silk boxer shorts and walk up the hallway to the living room. Silently, I observe Shayna. She is rocking back and forth on the couch, her hands wrapped around her own torso. Embracing herself.

"You better preach, preacher!" she shouts at the face on the screen.

I mimic her movements and hug myself too, but not because I feel the love. It's freezing in here. Shayna likes to turn the thermostat on sixty no matter what the temperature is outside. Freon laced air rushes out of every vent.

"If you got breath in your lungs and strength in your body, you need to shout Hallelujah!" shouts the preacher.

"Hallelujah!Hallelujah!Hallelujah!Hallelujah!" Shayna's four-alarm Hallelujah sounds like one word.

I am amazed. How can Shayna feel so worshipful this morning when she just rolled out of my bed a few hours ago?

I'm curious. "Do you send this guy money? He's in Atlanta, right?"

Shayna looks up from the program and smiles seductively. Can she be any more blasphemous?

"Yes, Freedom of Life is in Atlanta and yes I do send in my tithe and offering on the regular. I'm a partner." She motions for me to come join her on the couch. I don't.

"About how many members do you think he has?" I ask as the television camera pans to what looks like the crowd at a Destiny's Child concert.

"The sanctuary holds ten thousand," she declares proudly as if it was her own accomplishment, "but there are about twenty thousand members and partners worldwide."

I'm in writer mode now. I can feel the wheels in my mind spinning. Probably something scandalous going on in a church that size. Pastor either skimming money off the top or sleeping with half the choir. Maybe blogging about a dirty Pastor will attract some sponsors. Exposing rich Black men pays well, and if he's truly grimy I won't have a problem spending the money.

Shayna asks suspiciously, "Since when did you get interested in church?"

"Since just now. I could feel the spirit oozing into the bedroom and I had to come investigate."

"I know you better than that. What's the real?"

Shayna doesn't know me at all, but she thinks she does. She assumes that we have a deep bond just because we've shared bodily fluids. There is more to me than my sex drive, but she'll never know that. She's not the wife type.

I humor her and reply, "Well, I just think that there has got to be a story here."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, this guy can't be more than forty five," I'm half-explaining, half-forming the story in my mind. "And he's got twenty thousand offering paying members? I bet he's living large."

Shayna frowns. "What's your point?"

"You don't think there's anything wrong with that?"

"Uh, no. Your daddy lives large."

I chuckle with disbelief. Didn't know she was one of those people. The ones who try to compare pastoring a church to running a business.

Just for the fun of it, I quip, "Jesus preached for free."

"He didn't have a car note," she shoots right back.

"Okay, I see this might be hitting a little close to home, but I bet if I go down there to Atlanta I can dig up a juicy story."

The thought became even more appealing as I put words to it. Atlanta is uncharted territory for me. Fresh stories, different scenery and untapped women. The more I wrap my arms around the notion, the more it turns into a need.

I need to get my butt down to Atlanta and break this story wide open. Blogging on location. Most definitely liking the sound of that.

Shayna leans over the back of the couch pointing her polished fingernail at me for emphasis. "Whatever. Bishop Kumal Prentiss is a man of God and he preaches the Word."

"Kumal Prentiss? That sounds like a hustler's name. And what do you know about the Word?"

"I grew up in church sweetie. I'm not a heathen like you."

"You're not the only one who was raised in church."

I'd had so much church growing up, that if church was food I could feed every one of those starving Ethiopian children who convince me every week to be their sponsor. If church was talent, I'd be singing like R. Kelly and dancing like Usher. If church was candy…let's just say I went to a lot of church.

Every Sunday Priscilla dragged me, unwillingly, into the huge stone building. Me always screaming, "But Daddy doesn't have to go!" Her always replying, "Daddy's going to hell." She'd give me money for my Sunday school offering and send me on my way.

I went through a phase where I enjoyed the services. I was thirteen and my first crush, Alexandra, was fifteen and fully developed. I joined the junior ushers, youth choir and youth department trying to get at that girl.

Then one Sunday morning, old Pastor Davis preached on lust and hell fire. He'd said that if we didn't repent of our lusts and get baptized, then we'd spend an eternity fighting fire. Since I had been drooling over Alexandra and her tight sweater for the entire service, I was terrified. Walked down that center aisle out of fear while Priscilla shouted, stomped and danced. Went down a dry devil, came up a wet devil.

At age sixteen, I just got tired of pretending that I could walk the narrow road. I prayed about it. Told God that I would come to church when I knew I could live right.

Priscilla wasn't having it. I think she literally had a nervous breakdown when I told her I wasn't going back to church. She cried for days; walked around praying out loud, lifting God up and putting the devil under her feet.

I didn't budge. And for the first time ever, my father defended me. He'd stopped Priscilla dead in her tracks.

He'd said, "Priscilla, you will not make my son go to church if he doesn't want to. Church is for women anyway, it's about time he found a more productive way of spending his time."

The memory brings a smile to my face, makes me want to taunt Shayna about her hypocrisy. "And since you know so much about the Word, what does it say about fornication?"

She must be done talking to me, because she turns back to Bishop Prentiss who has worked his congregation into a frenzy. Had to give it to him. The man had skills.

"You want something to eat?" I ask Shayna, ignoring her attitude.

Her face softens. "You know I do."

In minutes I've prepared a small breakfast feast. French toast on fresh French bread and garnished with powdered sugar, strawberries and carmelized bananas and a three cheese omelet, browned to perfection.

I can cook my butt off.

I arrange everything on the china my mother bought me for a housewarming gift. For me, it's not just the taste of the food, it's the look of it. Presentation is everything. I can make a grill cheesed sandwich look like a gourmet entrée.

Shayna's smile returns as she approaches the table. She tosses her red curls out of her honey colored face as she sashays barefoot over to the table. She looks as delicious as the breakfast wearing her baby t-shirt and boy shorts. I feel a hunger starting inside me that has nothing to do with breakfast food.

Shayna's a cute girl, not stunning, but standing there at my kitchen table, with her disheveled sexiness, she's irresistible. But then again, I have the same motto about women that I have about food. Presentation is everything.

"Why can't you be like the average guy and put everything on paper plates? This looks better than at the restaurant."

"For one, I'm not the average guy and two you wouldn't be so sprung if I was."

Shayna sits down and takes a bite before responding. Closes her eyes and chews slowly. I love the way she savors my culinary creations. She sounds just like a baby relishing the first sips of a warm bottle.

"Is that good?" It's real hard to hide the cockiness in my tone.

"You already know it is!" she exclaims, smacking her lips thoughtfully. "What is it that I taste? There's a different flavor in this."

Her observation fills me with pleasure. "Oh, you've been around me much too long if you are noticing flavor nuances. I'm proud."

She licks her fingers, one at a time. "Mmm-hmm. Maybe I have been around you too long, but baby I am not sprung."

This woman is hilarious. Shayna is not only sprung; she's 'in love'. I'm flattered, even if I don't feel the same way. She's been hinting that she wants to move in with me, but that is not going to happen. Rule number one of my cardinal rules is: never turn a bed mate into a roommate.

"Okay, you're not sprung. I believe you. That's actually a good thing, because then you won't miss me when I go to Atlanta."

"So you're serious about this?"

I fold my arms across my chest and nod my head emphatically. "It is my duty as a journalist to expose the charlatans and inform the people."

"You better be careful. The bible says 'touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm'."

"Look at you quoting scriptures. I'm impressed. And don't worry about me. If your precious pastor is everything that he says he is then he has nothing to worry about."

I tried to read this novel, but at times there was TMI (too much information) and I didn't care for that. Because I can't speak for everyone I suggest you check out the first chapter. It does give you an idea of the tone of the book. I would have to say some people would consider this book edgy Christian fiction. It wasn't just the TMI that I had a problem with. It was the disdain so many of the characters seemed to have toward each other: family and church members.

I wanted to check out what some of the other reviewers have thought about this book and I have to say, they all have enjoyed it. Many of them are on the line of calling it "refreshing." So I'd like to make sure you see some other perspectives than mine with this novel.

WORD up!

2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

Finding Hope Through Fiction

I have to admit it's hard not writing a glowing review for an author's book. I honestly believe we all have different tastes and those tastes don't make a book or break it when it comes to one persons views. It is obviously a book that is being enjoyed by others so I can clearly see that this one book just didn't happen to be for me. I also would like to send my apologies to the author. I hope that she can see I'm just one person along the review chain and enjoy the favorable reviews from the others. Blessings...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday: Anticipated Reads for 2009!!


Today's Question: There are a lot of great new books being published in 2009! But which ones are you the most excited about? Please pick some Christian fiction books you are excited to read this year and tell us all about them! But just to give this a little twist...be sure to visit everyone else's posts and find some books you might be interested in reading as well that are different from your picks! It will come in handy for a fun bonus question next week!

I know those of us who are doing this question will think I nabbed Amy's first choice, but as soon as I saw the topic of the question I had my 1st book in mind. I hadn't had a chance to see Amy's choices since I found the question on my Dashboard.

The following books are in no order of preference. I'm just searching and finding and putting them on my post! To check out the authors sites, click on the picture of their book. Hopefully all the links will work! I'll try checking them out when I post. My list isn't exhaustive either. I'm sure that I'll visit other sites and realize, "Darn it, I meant to add that book, too!"


The first book I'm looking forward to read is not surprisingly Julie Lessman's book A Passion Denied. Julie's first two books have been fantastic. Not only is Julie a fantabulous person, she a strong author!

I know that my bookshelves will probably carry every single one of her books someday and my goal is to have each one signed by her! Meeting her at the ACFW conference this past fall was such a blast. She is genuine and I love that about her.


One of my all time favorite authors, Cathy Marie Hake will be releasing That Certain Spark in August 2009. Cathy is so amazingly funny in her writing! My girls and I absolutely adore her characters. Her last book Forevermore had us laughing out loud.

Cathy is known to write "hysterical historical" fiction. That is dead on. I met Cathy at a book signing at Northwestern Bookstore before the ACFW conference and it was such a blessing to spend time with her. Her heart for the Lord is worn on her sleeve. If any one of her books can change the life of one person, she knows she has done what the Lord has asked of her! How awesome is that?


My next book that I'm looking forward to is Robert Liparulo's 4th book in the Dreamhouse Kings series Timescape. I just finished reading and reviewing Book 3 The Gatekeepers. What happened at the end of Book 3 wishes I had an Advanced ARC (yes, double advanced)!




I thoroughly enjoyed Hannah Grace by Sharlene MacLaren. So, I can't wait to read Maggie Rose this summer. It's supposed to come out in July. I checked the publisher's website and Sharlene's but didn't fid a pic of the cover. So, there's a lot of anticipation for this summer and this book. I love historical fiction and she picked a fantastic period in time.





Tina Ann Forkner has her 2nd novel coming out this year. Rose House will be coming out in May. I really loved Ruby Among Us, her debut novel. Set in the lush Sonoma Valley, this book will draw you into the beautiful surroundings of the wine country.

Tina was a dynamic person at the ACFW conference! It was so much fun getting to meet her! Oh, and I still think she's a snazzy dresser!





The Reluctant Cowgirl by Christine Lynxwiler is to be released in April. I already have this book on my TBR pile at my Shelfari page. My girls and I really enjoyed the first two books of Christine's that we read this year Along Came a Cowboy and Promise Me Always. Christine has a fantastic sense of humor and it comes through in her books.

If you haven't had a chance to pick up one of Christine's books, I would highly suggest them. She reminds me of Susan May Warren. Christine was another author I was so excited to meet.

Susan was a peach to call Christine and find out where she was wandering around at the Mall of America. That place is huge and Christine took the time to find us to sign my copy of her book Along Came a Cowboy. Is that a dedicated author or what?!


Another author new to me is T.L. Higley. Her first book Shadow of Colossus was in a time period I've never read before. T.L.'s series will take us through the Seven Wonders of the World. She actually has 2 books coming out this year from this series. The second book City of the Dead comes out in March. Yippy, not a long wait for that. Book 3 Guardian of the Flame comes out in October. I really like not waiting a long time for books in a series to come out. The nice thing about this series is that they're not dependent on each other. They are stand alone novels.




I have really been blessed with a great selection of YA novels this past year. Of course that leaves me wanting more, especially when they're series. Again, my 15 yr old daughter and I really enjoyed D. Barkley Brigg's novel The Book of Names. She was NOT happy that I gave the book away on my blog. So, when book 2 Corus the Champion comes out in the Spring, I will be keeping it in our library.

This is a time portal novel that draws adults as well as youth into a new world. Brigg's website is really cool too! I'm glad to hear book 3 is in progress, but I'm wondering how a fan could help an author to speed it up? hahahahaha


the spring of candy apples is the 4th book in Debbie Viguie's series. I had the chance to read book 3 the winter of candy canes and just received book 1 in the series the summer of cotton candy. Book 3 was the first book in the series and Debbie's first book I've read.

This was great teen lit! I hope Debbie keeps up with this genre of book. Teen girls need to have encouraging books and Debbie's book certainly fit the bill. If you are looking for books that are full of what they go through in their lives today as well as the faith element, then check out Debbie's "A Sweet Seasons" series!


I was introduced to Julie Klassen last year. Her first novel, Lady of Milkweed Manor, was a house favorite. Well, much to my joy, I received The Apothecary's Daughter, last week! This will be the first book of 2009 that I'll have the pleasure to read! What a great way to start off the new year!

Julie has a lot of experience in the publishing industry. She works for Bethany House. I hope that since she lives in MN that I'll have the chance to run into her at a book signing. I had the privilege of meeting her at the same time as I met Cathy Marie Hake. They were at Northwestern Bookstore together. Julie was a really neat lady to talk to and the joy in her spirit came shining through.


Bryan Davis is rockin'! I searched the web trying to find a cover for the 3rd book in his Echoes From the Edge series so I could add it to my list when I created it the other day, and couldn't find it anywhere. Well, he found me on Facebook today and I believe he knows I'm a huge fan. See, I'm tellin' ya, YA fiction isn't only for YA! I love this series! So, he just emailed me the picture for book 3 Nightmare's Edge. This is such a cool series! So, here's my latest add to my anticipated 2009 reads... Nightmare's Edge by Bryan Davis! I also have to say, he's got really cool covers for this series. You have to look close to see there's more than meets the eye.

 
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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.