Monday, November 30, 2009

God Gave Us Love & God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren

God Gave Us Love
by Lisa Tawn Bergen
art by Laura J. Bryant
Hardcover, 40 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7447-1
Publisher: Random House

Book Summary

God Gave Us Love: As Little Cub and Grampa Bear’s fishing adventure is interrupted by mischievous otters, the young polar bear begins to question why we must love others… even the seemingly unlovable. In answering her questions, Grampa Bear gives tender explanations that teach Little Cub about the different kinds of love that is shared between families, friends, and mamas and papas. Grampa explains that all these kinds of love come from God and that it is important to love others because…

“Any time we show love, Little Cub, we’re sharing a bit of his love.”

This sweet tale will warm the hearts of young children as they learn about all the different sorts of love, while the gentle explanations of each provide a valuable opportunity to encourage children to share with others a “God-sized love.”

From the Publisher:

In God Gave Us Love, Little Cub and Grampa Bear’s fishing adventure is interrupted by mischievous otters, and the young polar bear begins to ask questions like why must we love others . . . even the seemingly unlovable? Why is it easier to love those we like? Where does love come from? And why does God love her so much?

Grampa Bear patiently addresses each one of Little Cub’s curiosities by explaining the different kinds of love we can share: the love between friends, the love between families, the love between moms and dads, and the love for God.

He also assured Little Cub that because of the love God has given her through his Son, there’s nothing she can do to make God love her any more or any less. Through Grampa Bear’s encouraging Little Cub to love others with a “God-sized love,” children will be inspired to love others and to be patient, gentle and kind, so that in every way, they too can demonstrate God’s love.

God Gave Us Christmas
by Lisa Tawn Bergen
art by David Hohn
Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7175-3
Publisher: Random House

Book Summary

God Gave Us Christmas: As Little Cub and her family prepare to celebrate the most special day of the year, the curious young polar bear begins to wonder… “Who invented Christmas?” Mama’s answer only leads to more questions like “Is God more important than Santa?” So she and Little Cub head off on a polar expedition to find God and to see how he gave them Christmas. Along the way, they find signs that God is at work all around them. Through Mama’s gentle guidance, Little Cub learns about the very first Christmas and discovers that… Jesus is the best present of all.

This enchanting tale provides the perfect opportunity to help young children celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and to discover how very much God loves them.

From the Publisher:

In God Gave Us Christmas, as Little Cub and her family prepare to celebrate the most special day of the year, the curious young polar bear has something on her mind: “Who invented Christmas?” she asks. “Is God more important than Santa?”

Her questions reflect the confusion of so many children during the holiday season. And this heartwarming story takes them on a wonderful journey of discovery—right to the heart of Christmas.

Through Mama’s gentle guidance, Little Cub learns that God loves her and everyone— polar bear, moose, or human—so much that he gave us Jesus, the very best gift of all.

My Review

Both of these books is beautifully illustrated! They have different illustrators, but that doesn't take away from the story. Lisa Tawn Bergen delivers a wonderful message in each of the stories.

Her most recent book, God Gave Us Love, shows the many kinds of love God created. The ones between a mommy & a daddy and with friends & family. And the most important relationship is the one we have with God. Lisa shares with children that sometimes it's not easy to love someone, but they can make the choice to love anyhow. I love how she discusses between the Grandpa and Little Cub how God shows us he loves us and how we can know he loves us. What a precious gift to share with our children!

In God Gave Us Christmas, Lisa describes though an adventure with Mama and Little Cub how God is different and more important that Santa. They go on a trek to find evidences of God. Mama shows Little Cub the Northern Lights and shares about Jesus coming and Christmas beginning. Mama shares how powerful God is from an ice cliff falling into the sea. I love that Lisa doesn't knock Santa and in turn losing potential readers. Kids learn that Santa is a great reminder of "...good things like generosity and care."

I'd love to share these books with you, but alas they will be going to my neice. Sorry. Thank you for visiting and learning more about Lisa Tawn Bergen's children's books.

Author Bio

Lisa Tawn Bergren is the award-winning author of nearly thirty titles, totaling more than 1.5 million books in print. She writes in a broad range of genres, from adult fiction to devotional. God Gave Us Love follows in Lisa’s classic tradition of the best-selling God Gave Us You. She lives in Colorado, with her husband, Tim, and their children, Olivia, Emma, and Jack.

*I'd like to thank Ashley at Multnomah Books, a division of Random House for the copies of God Gave Us Love and God Gave Us Christmas. To learn more about these and other titles from Multnomah and Random House visit:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Winners of Downhere's "How Many Kings: Songs for Christmas"

Congratulations to the 5 winners of How Many Kings: Songs for Christmas by Downhere. I'd like the take the chance once again to thank the ladies at Centricity Music for supplying the CDs for this giveaway!

Winner #1 is Buukluvr81

Winner #2 is Janna

Winner #3 is LivingforGod

Winner #4 is Winning Readings

Winner #5 is Christineawoods

Here is a look at some of my upcoming giveways/reviews:

Friday, November 27, 2009

How Many Kings by Downhere & GIVEAWAY 5 Copies!!

Recently Downhere's How Many Kings has been playing often on the radio. It is such a powerful song! You can watch their video on YouTube or check it out with my review here:

Today I listened to their just release Christmas album, How Many Kings: Songs for Christmas. I played it over and over! I'm trying not to overdo it with their title song How Many Kings. Listen to the words and you will understand what I'm talking about.

With Christmas a mere 5 weeks away, the Christmas music is about to hit the airwaves. Wouldn't you love to have something new to listen to? Downhere's Christmas CD is IT! Do you have preteens/teens or young adults in your life who need a twist to their Christmas music? They're tired of all the Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith versions? Not that there's anything wrong with them! I think we just need Christmas music that crosses over and Downhere does that in spectacular fashion!

So, lets discuss the CD!! They have a blend of classic Christmas songs with their own take as well as new music. The first song is the title song. What better way to start off this awesome collection?

How Many Kings challenges us to look at what other gods the world offers to us and compare them to the God of our lives who gave up everything for us.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is a great remake with Downhere's rock element!

Angels From the Realm of Glory I've never heard it before and it is simply a beautiful song.

Christmas in Our Hearts makes me think of the Beatles with Marc Martel's unique sound.

Silent Night is done in absolute classic fashion! There is a very goose-bump inducing part with Marc Martel's "oooo"ing! They blend their voices in a gorgeous rendition.

What Child is This? I love the guitar in this song. I love how the guys voices blend. And an awesome part where they actually sing a bit in French. It's so cool!

Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella is a 16th Century carol! Wikipedia describes the song as a song about 2 milk maidens who go to the stable to milk their cows and find the baby Jesus! Jason Germain's husky voice is perfect for this song. Probably my favorite new carol!

5 Golden Rings all I can say is this isn't what you will expect.

Gift Carol speaks of the gift to all mankind, the doubting Thomas'.

Glory to God is a great contemporary Christmas song with their rock edge.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas is again another song that is done in a style that's unexpected! One you won't forget any time soon.

How Many Kings (Re-Imagined) The guys redid this song in a more mellow and quiet version. It's more peaceful and gentle than the original version.

This Christmas CD is NOT one of those "Oh the band just had to do what every other band does". It's totally unique and has songs that will stand on their own. Even the classic songs they sing are so originally done you don't feel like you could be listening to any Joe Schmoe. No, Downhere has a very unique sound and the entire compilation will be played year round!

After listening to How Many Kings: Songs for Christmas, I have a new favorite band! These 4 guys are seamless. I feel like if one of them was missing they just wouldn't be the same. Speaking of the guys, if you don't know about them, let me give you an insight to them.

Press Release

With a ten-year career under their belt, constant connectivity from the critics and the radio charts, plus trophies from the Dove, Juno and Covenant Awards, Downhere is among todays most celebrated and innovative modern rock acts. Each album has shown an artistic evolution that constantly finds the Canadian foursome at the top of its game and has resulted in a strong fan base.
Such is the case of the band’s first ever holiday collection, How Many Kings: Songs For Christmas (Centricity Music), which retains much of Downhere’s classic elements, but also stretches to previously uncharted realms capable of expanding the group’s audience more than ever before. Sure, there’s plenty of melodic vocal interplay from co-front men, guitarist Marc Martel and keyboardist Jason Germain, alongside the ultra-infectious rhythm section comprised of bassist Glenn Lavender and drummer Jeremy Thiessen, but there’s also a compelling experiment with organic instrumentation and ingenious holiday interpretations, alongside equally riveting originals.

“In some ways, we’ve always been resistant to anything that even resembles jumping on any kind of bandwagon, like putting out a greatest hits or a worship album,” reflects Germain. “But this came about naturally from the bonus track ‘How Many Kings’ on our last record and then going on the Bethlehem Skyline Tour with other Centricity artists.”

The genesis of Downhere’s Christmas affinity actually dates back several years earlier, when the band began a series of holiday concerts in Franklin, TN for their hometown fans. The shows combined regular hits with classic sounds of the season, which were incorporated into the debut Bethlehem Skyline Tour in 2008. If anything, fan response on those cozy outings, coupled with the unceasing success of “How Many Kings” at Christian radio, started the recording process for the group and led to Downhere’s first Christmas project done in their own unique style.

“Basically we made a giant list of Christmas songs and narrowed them down to our top choices, realizing that every one of them was at least a hundred years old,” muses Martel. “We all really resonate with a love for good lyrics -- the classic ones that are going to last -- so we do a lot of really old Christmas carols. However, we also tried to make the old stuff sound new.”

Though the band carefully preserved the integrity of timeless tunes like “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” “Bring a Torch,” “What Child Is This?,” “Silent Night,” among many others, each rendering has the group’s signature stamp and is firmly planted in the present. The group also hopes that in the midst of all the shopping insanity, brought on by today’s consumer society, people will truly utilize How Many Kings: Songs For Christmas as a soundtrack to slow down and plug into the true reason for the celebration.

“We didn’t want to pack a whole Christmas record with ‘Jingle Bells,’ ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ or anything that was considered all that fluffy,” admits Thiessen. “We were very selective in wanting to pick songs that actually said something than simply ‘it’s Christmas- let’s party!’ We’re just trying to get people to pay attention and unplug from all of the running around.”

But that’s not to say there aren’t any fun songs on the album, which in keeping with the foursome’s boisterous personalities, includes a handful of quirky interludes like “5 Golden Rings” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

“They’re just meant to be really fun tracks that we recorded at Jason’s house while sitting around the living room,” explains Lavender. “I was literally playing on his Juno Award and hitting everything else imaginable around the room and it made for a really fun afternoon. But it’s also very inviting to listen to and makes you feel like you’re with Downhere right there in the living room.”

The Giveaway

To learn more about Downhere and their Christmas CD that was released October 6, 2009 visit their site at

REQUIRED Entry: Watch the above video on YouTube and leave a comment there for them. Come back here and tell me what number commenter you are! You must be at least 18 yrs old to enter and a resident of the US. Giveaway will run through November 28, 2009, 10pm CST. Void where prohibited

Extra Entries (must leave a separate comment for each) To receive these extra opportunities for entries, you must fulfill the first REQUIRED entry above and please be sure your email is in your comment to be entered:

+1 Follow Downhere on Twitter and Tweet about this giveaway (leaving me the link)
+1 Follow Downhere on Facebook
+3 Visit Centricity Music and tell me which of their other bands you'd like to learn more about
+3 Sign up for Centricity Music info on their homepage, bottom left sidebar
+2 Grab my button and let me know where I can find it
+3 Become a Follower of Woven by Words or if you already are, let me know
I would like to thank Janet & Penny at Centricity Music for providing me with my copy of this awesome CD! They've also provided the Giveaway copies of How Many Kings: Songs for Christmas. The opinions of this CD are completely mine and Centricity Music did not sponsor me for this review aside from sending me a copy.

Thirsty by Tracey Bateman ~ GIVEAWAY

by Tracey Bateman
ISBN: 9780307457158
Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah
Book Summary

There's no place like home, they say.

"Hello, I'm Nina Parker…and I'm an alcoholic."

For Nina, it's not the weighty admission but the first steps toward recovery that prove most difficult. She must face her ex-husband, Hunt, with little hope of making amends, and try to rebuild a relationship with her angry teenage daughter, Meagan. Hardest of all, she is forced to return to Abbey Hills, Missouri, the hometown she abruptly abandoned nearly two decades earlier–and her unexpected arrival in the sleepy Ozark town catches the attention of someone–or something–igniting a two-hundred-fifty-year-old desire that rages like a wildfire.

Unaware of the darkness stalking her, Nina is confronted with a series of events that threaten to unhinge her sobriety. Her daughter wants to spend time with the parents Nina left behind. A terrifying event that has haunted Nina for almost twenty years begins to surface. And an alluring neighbor initiates an unusual friendship with Nina, but is Markus truly a kindred spirit or a man guarding dangerous secrets?

As everything she loves hangs in the balance, will Nina's feeble grasp on her demons be broken, leaving her powerless against the thirst? The battle between redemption and obsession unfold to its startling, unforgettable end.

My Review

Alrighty, I requested this book after I read the publisher info, but not clearly. I'm not really a vampire genre fan so when I read that Thirsty was about an alcoholic, I stopped reading the rest of the information.

Imagine my surprise when I started reading the book and found out, "Yes, Mimi, there are vampires in this story." Shoot. I was really hoping it wouldn't be scary, ridiculous, or unable to connect a Christian theme.

Thankfully this wasn't Ted Dekker scary, but it had it's creep factor. It definitely wasn't ridiculous with the story lines that were circulating through the story. And there was an underlying Christian theme, but it wasn't in your face.

Nina heads home to Abbey Hills and is faced with the past that has brought her to where she is right now in her life. Heading home she brings her 17 yr old daughter, Meg, with her who is furious that she has to spend time with her alcoholic mother, whom she calls Nina.

Nina is heading back to the town that drove her away in the first place. She will eventually have to face the parents she left without a word. There she will come face to face with the man who fathered her child. Will she be able to handle it all without turning to the bottle?

Along with Nina's story is the turmoil we see in Meg. She loves her adopted dad and has never eally questioned who her biological father is. She is very angry and has every right to be. Nina's husband, Hunt, has loved her throughout their alcoholic marriage, but to protect their children finally divorced her.

We also meet Markus at the beginning of the story. He is the vampire. He meets Nina when she's a teenager, but she has no recollection of that meeting. Markus on the other hand hasn't forgotten that brief moment of time they shared. He has been waiting for her. He has his own demons to face in this story.

You can see the correlation between Markus's battle against his natural tendency to drink blood and Nina's battle against alcohol, which has pretty much consumed her life. She doesn't realize it when they meet up again, but their lives are inevitably entwined as Markus tries to connect with her emotionally.

This isn't a story about conversion or salvation, but one about the strength of love and family. Yes, there's a vampire in the story, but it doesn't take away from it. I wasn't sure that I would care for it because of the vampire element, but I was sucked into the story!

About the Author

With close to one million books in print, Tracey Bateman is the award-winning author of more than 30 titles. Fan favorites include the best-selling Kansas Home historical series; Color of the Soul, a tale of race and prejudice chosen as an editor’s pick by Christian Book Distributors; and her many popular romantic novels for Heartsong Presents, which boasts more than 20,000 members. Tracey resides in Missouri with her husband and four children.

I'd like to thank Liz from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group a division of Random House for my review copy and giveaway copy of Thirsty. You can find Thirsty here:

If you'd like to win a copy of Thirsy, leave a comment here letting me know if you've read any vampire stories and whether you like them. I liked Tracey's book, but I don't know that I'd go out and get any other vampire-like stories. It's just not my thing.

Giveaway open to US residents only who are 18 and older. Please leave an email address or you will NOT be entered in the giveaway. Void where prohibited. Random drawing will use the Top Hat software. Giveaway ends 11/30, 10:30 CST.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Honest Scrap Award Again!!!

I would love to thank Nora St. Laurent at her awesome blog Finding Hope Through Fiction. You will find a list of her giveaways in the scrolling box on the right side of my page under the label "Other Giveaways".

The last time I posted this award...last week? I hadn't put down any links because I couldn't think of any. Well, I have some this time, and YOU will be the one who benefits from it! The following are the rules:

*This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.

*When accepting this award, you must write a post about it, including the name of the person who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.

*Choose a minimum of seven blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Show the blog names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with the Honest Scrap award.

*List at least ten honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!

My New 10 Honest Things
1) I went to school overseas my 9th grade year in Spain
2) I blame author Angela Hunt on my blog because she introduced me to the ACFW
3) If I had the attention span, I'd try to write a book
4) I'm afraid of flying
5) I would've loved to have been a hip-hop dancer
6) I've been married 2x...UGH! :(
7) I got my first (and only) horse when I was 35...a dream realized and now gone *tear*
8) I love Starbucks Mint Mocha Frappuccino
9) I have a hard time acting my age...4-0
10) I have an addiction to books

The 9 blogs/sites I'm picking are ones that are having AWESOME Christmas giveaway and you can find their links in the scrolling box on the right side of my blog:

Jennifer at The Dirty tShirt
Melissa at Outnumbered 3 to 1
Dee at Two of a Kind, Working on a Full House
Miriam at What's Cooking at DD thru 12/9
Emilie at Baby Loving Mama
Tammi at My Organized Chaos
Kimberly at Oh My Baby
Sarah at Minnesota Mamma Must Haves
Lynn at Midday Escapades

Christmas Giveaways & Ideas

As we all know, Christmas this year is going to be very light in many homes. With the economy the way it is, we are all cutting back. I'm here to give you a helping hand in this area. If you look on the right sidebar of this blog, you will see a scrolling bar with sites hosting Christmas specific giveaways.

You may be leery about entering these because it's on the Internet and won't they get your name and do terrible things with it, etc. That's NOT the case. Most of these sites are mom run and they just have you do 1 Required entry and then typically give quite a few ways to earn extra entries.

Let me assure you, these are all legitimate. Recently I won a Coffee Cozy by Liberty Original (Etsy). From Penelope's Oasis I won a Waterpik system!! I've also won books from various sites throughout the year.

If you've ever entered one of my giveaways, it's the same as here, but their prizes are out of this world!! You don't have to have a blog to enter to win. As long as you remember to enter your email with each entry and follow the Requirements, you have at least one entry!

Let me give you some ideas of what's out there for giveaways:

Handbags @ Two of a Kind, Working on a Full House & visit Handbag Heaven

Seagate FreeAgent Go & DockStar @ Two of a Kind, Working on a Full House & visit Seagate

Disney on Ice in MN
Car Seats
Wii games
Kids Toys
Children's Clothes

Hoover Wind Tunnel @ What's Cooking at DD & visit the Hoover website

The links on my sidebar are just a glimpse into what is out there!! You can check out a couple of my giveaways that are open through the rest of this week:

Thirsty by Tracey Bateman:

5 copies of Downhere's How Many Kings: Songs for Christmas:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'm a "Blogger of the Week"

I am so grateful to Jessica at The Bee Keeps Us Honest for featuring me and Woven by Words as her Blogger of the Week!

Jessica does great reviews and giveaways on her site. That's where I found my Christmas gifts that I just bought yesterday: 2 Snorg Tees!! Right now she is featuring 6 giveaways, 2 of which end today.

I was already following The Bee Keeps Us Honest when I she began her "Blogger of the Week". What a totally unselfish thing to do, promote the sites of other people! I am very thankful for that. It certainly is fun learning about the bloggers out there, more than you'd learn sometimes from their "About" page.

If you'd like to see my Q & A with Jessica, head over to her site The Bee Keeps Us Honest. And while you're there, check out her other pages and maybe enter a giveaway or two.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner Review

As many of you know, I had surgery on my shoulder (say that fast 3x) on October 15. Around that same time, I started contacting companies to inquire about reviewing their products. SC Johnson happened to be one of those companies.

I heard from Sara, Senior Consumer Representative. She had visited my site and offered to send me the Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner Started Kit because of the surgery and she knew it would be a great help. I was so excited. I've seen it on tv commercials and we carry it at our store.

The day it arrived I ripped it out of the package and headed to the shower. That's where I hit my first quandary. The dispenser only hangs over the shower head. Unfortunately, I had (past tense) a shower caddy there filled up with shower supplies. I ended up putting it on the door handle of the bathroom closet doorknob. I would see if there were some way to add heavy duty suction cups to attach the dispenser at the back of the shower since so many people do use shower caddies.

For 15 +/- years I've used a squeegee after my shower to keep spots off the walls and shower doors. Now that I use the Automatic Shower Cleaner I don't need it anymore...seriously. Funny thing is, habits are hard to change. As soon as I shut the shower off, I reach for my no-longer-there squeegee!

In their "Helpful Hints" section they say that it's safe to leave all of your personal care items in the shower while it sprays. I've made the personal decision to take out the boys bars of soap and my sponge only for the fact that there's a chemical spraying on those items. I'm not concerned about the products that are in bottles. They also suggest to get the best results to use the Automatic Shower Cleaner as soon as the last person uses the shower so that it's still wet so no spots are left.

I have really liked the results of using this product. My shower feels clean every time I use it! I'm not one of those people who cleans her shower every week. Not my thing. This product is a great in between major cleanings product! I haven't noticed any residue or spots left on my glass doors! Kudos to that alone.

Two things I would like to see improved would be the distance the Automatic Shower Cleaner shoots. I intentionally dried off the back of my shower to test how well it was sprayed. I definitely detected Cleaner drops, but it was what I would consider a significant amount. Of course, we don't spend much time at the end of the shower so there isn't much soap scum, hard water, or mold & mildew build up. I guess it's more of the sense of it being sprayed as well as the rest of the shower.
I'd also like to see more scents available. I know that as a society we're inundated by different scents, but that makes us more inclined to want more options. I realize that it's not always possible nor it is preferred in certain products.

Those are 2 minor points in how much I've appreciated having this product in my shower since my surgery! I have even noticed that it's working on the stuff I hadn't cleaned before the initial first spraying. SC Johnson does recommend starting with a clean shower, but that wasn't the case for me. :)

Again, I'd like to thank SC Johnson and Sara for sending me this extremely timely product to aid in my surgery recovery! I would love to have you visit SC Johnson and check out their entire line of family friendly products at To learn more specifically about Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner,

I would also like to recommend Right @ Home, an extension of SC Johnson. There you can sign up for their newsletter and find tips and suggestions for every area of your life. They cover "Hot Topics" such as "Pocket Change for a Cause" and "A Tree for the Birds" today. They have tips & tricks from the Editor and Members. You can find coupons to print at home, ways to reduce holiday stress, and so much more! You can find the link on the left sidebar of this site or visit:

Blog Award ~ Honest Scrap

Renee at Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Spot & Hannah at Project Journal both gave me the Honest Scrap award!

As a part of this award I have to tell you 10 honest things about me and pass the award on to 10 more bloggers!
  1. I spend waaaay too much time on the computer

  2. I love entering giveaways on the websites on my sidebar

  3. My favorite thing about Facebook are the Flairs

  4. I'm a milkaholic

  5. I want to be on the Amazing Race

  6. I'd love to race cars

  7. I spent most of my life (up to this point) in Washington

  8. I have Attention Deficit Disorder/Inattentive

  9. Gardening perennials is relaxing (I love weeding)

  10. I love the smell of fresh cut grass and rain

Ok, so I'm supposed this on and that means I have to go back through my blogroll to see who I'm going to give this to. ;) I'll get back to you!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Guest Post by Graham Garrison, Author

Hero's Tribute
by Graham Garrison
ISBN: 978-0-8254-2685-8
Publiser: Kregel

Picture a young family sitting around the dinner table for Thanksgiving dinner. Because of the dad’s job, the family didn’t travel this holiday. The mom has just finished the stuffing. The dad carved the turkey. The two-year old daughter is yapping away about coloring or dolls or something along those lines. A three-month old is propped in the high chair drooling and smiling at everything. The mom and dad bring the food to the table, the dad ties a bib on the two-year old while the mom gives the baby a bottle. It’s the same scene being played out in million of homes across the country.

The phone rings. It could be relatives in Florida or Georgia, because the family live sin North Carolina. It could be neighbors across the street. This dad and that dad work for the same company. But they know better. They know that phone calls at this hour, at this little plot of land, have more ramifications than most. They live in a duplex in the heart of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home to the 82nd Airborne.

The father scoots his chair back, rises, and picks up the phone on the third ring. He says hello, and then listens. The message is short. He hangs up the phone, and turns to his wife.This is the part in the movie where the deep, thematic music starts playing. The husband’s shoulders sag and he says something heroic like “It’s time to kick some butt,” or “Lord have mercy on my enemies because we’ll have none.” Or the wife will say “Don’t leave us” or be like the King Leonidas’s wife in 300 “Come back with your shield or you on it.” But this is the real world, and the real world doesn’t have time for that non-sense.

“Do you know where the insurance papers are?” is what the husband says. The wife nods. The next 10 minutes are a rush. He prepares quickly, hugs his wife, kisses his children and leaves. Fifteen minutes ago they were a normal family eating Thanksgiving. Now the husband is off to a foreign battlefield with the very real possibility that he won’t return, that the wife and mother of his children will be a widow, that there lives will never be the same.

What kind of faith do you have to have to function in those times? To volunteer for a life with those possibilities? It sounds like an impossible situation to handle, yet every day, in one shape or form, millions of American families live that out. Army, Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, Air Force, National Guard. These are our moms and dads, siblings, cousins, neighbors, soccer coaches, store managers, firemen and policemen. These folks are the best we as a nation have to offer.

I wanted to know what made them tick. I wanted to know why my friend Matt would put himself through 60 days away from his wife and into swamps, mountains with little sleep. And when he was done with that, as we’re packing a U-Haul so he and his wife Holly can move to Fort Campbell to begin training for war, for him to say “I don’t want a desk job or to miss out, it’s my destiny to lead men in combat.”

The word that tied into each of their stories was service.

They have a faith in our country, that before they even know where they’re going, what missions they’ll be given and what danger they’ll be in, they sign a contract and are sworn in under oath to protect our freedom. They love and trust our country so much. They have faith in their fellow citizens to elect the right leaders who will make the right, measured decisions. They have faith that when they are sent in harm’s way, that it’s for the right reasons. They trust us, in other words. They have faith in us.

It’s not just soldiers and their families though. It’s school teachers. Social workers. Moms. Dads. We are these things, on good days and bad. For sickness and in health. On soccer fields and desk jobs.

After really looking at the people who you can truly call heroes in our society, specifically soldiers and their families, what made them tick, what made them extraordinary, it wasn’t their deeds. Medals, plaques – those were rewards for being in the right place at a moment in time when they were called. They were all called, just not to the same duties and battlefields. And I’m not taking away from anyone here, that’s not the point. The point is they had the faith to serve, that’s what makes them different. Whether it was on the front line or in logistics, they did what they were called upon.

And that’s important, because in real life, in our walk with God, we don’t always get to pick our fights. Just how we react to them, how we fight in them. That’s what led me in part to write Hero’s Tribute.

Q & A With Graham Garrison

1.) Where did you originally come up with the idea for a story about what defines a hero?

I just wanted to know what made them tick. You hear stories of World War II veterans who did heroic things but never mentioned them to their families, and then their families would find a silver star hidden in a trunk in the attic. Most heroes are like that – the medals and ribbons are significant, but they don’t define them.

2.) Is there a particular reason why the families of soldiers are near and dear to your heart?

I was born in Fayetteville, N.C. while my dad was a captain in the 82nd Airborne stationed at Fort Bragg. I’ve always held soldiers and their families in the highest regard.

3.) In your opinion, do actions or character ultimately define a hero?

I think character comes through in the actions, ultimately. If there is failure, you can still see where a person tried their best to do the right thing. We don’t always get to choose the battles we fight or the hardships we’ll endure, but we can choose how we react to them, and I wanted that to resonate in “Hero’s Tribute,” especially with Michael Gavin.

4.) Who is your favorite author? Why?

Probably Philip Yancey. He digs deep into spiritual topics and biblical figures but doesn’t tell you what to think about them. More like he presents the information and allows you to decide for yourself, or sets you off on your own investigation.

About the Author

Graham Garrison is a writer and editor who lives in suburban Atlanta. He has covered high school and college football games as a newspaper reporter, completed an internship with the U.S. Army at its National Training Center in the Mojave Desert and tested WaveRunners and Runabouts as the managing editor of a national boating magazine. He’s written about battlefields for America’s Civil War, interviewed medical innovators for Georgia Physician and even penned an editorial for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. When he’s not writing, he’s chasing his two-year old son Nicholas and their Beagle, Baxter around the backyard with his wife, Katie. Visit his website at

I'd like to thank Graham for taking the time to share about his book Hero's Tribute and his thoughts on service. I will be touring Hero's Tribute on Feb 3 so you'll be able to read the first chapter and my review.

I'd also like to thank the service men and women who are my heroes in this world! Thank you for laying your life down for the millions of people who don't know you but honor your service to this country that you help to remain free and safe!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Faith 'n' Fiction Saturday: Do you "warn" people about Christian Fiction?

Today's Question

Do you recommend or lend your Christian fiction books to people who don't share your faith? If you do, do you tell them in advance that the book is Christian fiction? Why do you or don't you tell them?

My Answer

The only person I've given books to that wasn't a Christian is my mom. She wasn't thrilled with it because it was "too preachy". She typically reads Fern Michaels (?) and Nora Roberts. I'm pretty sure I told her they were Christian. The 3 books I gave her were Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and 2 books by Karen Kingsbury; One Tuesday Morning and Beyond Tuesday Morning.

I wanted to introduce her to 2 great authors who have wonderful messages in their books. I wasn't sure those 4 years ago which ones would be the least "preachy", but were wonderfully written.

My next plan is to give some sci-fi/fantasy Christian novels to my youngest brother. He's big into mystical types of books and thankfully we have a great selection of Speculative Christian fiction on the market: Donita K. Paul, D. Barkley Briggs, Sharon Hinck, and Bryan Davis to only name a few.

As for lending my books out period, I've started a check out sheet for my books. They've ended up in different places and it's become hard to keep track of them. I gave our pastor's wife a bagful and now can't remember which ones they are. I don't need them back, but they've been gone for quite some time and I'm becoming concerned about getting them back on my bookshelf. *grin*

Tomorrow we have book club at my house and I'll have to share about my new check out system. Make sure the "rules" are in place. The rules dog-earring pages, no writing in the book, etc. Someone gave me a book that they thought was mine and it had several dog-eared pages. My first thought was, "There's no way this book is mine with that turned down page!" :o) If you look at my house, the only things in pristine condition would be my books! hahahaha I love my books!

Friday, November 13, 2009

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner & GIVEAWAY

white picket fences
by Susan Meissner
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7457-0
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Format: Trade Paperback, 368 pages

Book Summary:

Amanda Janvier’s idyllic home seems the perfect place for her niece Tally to stay while her vagabond brother is in Europe, but the white picket fence life Amanda wants to provide is a mere illusion. Amanda’s husband Neil refuses to admit their teenage son Chase, is haunted by the horrific fire he survived when he was four, and their marriage is crumbling while each looks the other way.

Tally and Chase bond as they interview two Holocaust survivors for a sociology project, and become startlingly aware that the whole family is grappling with hidden secrets, with the echoes of the past, and with the realization that ignoring tragic situations won’t make them go away.

Readers of emotional dramas that are willing to explore the lies that families tell each other for protection and comfort will love White Picket Fences. The novel is ideal for those who appreciate exploring questions like: what type of honesty do children need from their parents, or how can one move beyond a past that isn’t acknowledged or understood? Is there hope and forgiveness for the tragedies of our past and a way to abundant grace?

My Review:

As with Susan's last book The Shape of Mercy, I found this book to be a very deep and thought provoking. The story is compelling as we think about family dynamics. We always hear that we don't know what others are going through and the seemingly "perfect" family has its own issues.

Tally enters the Janvier's home carrying the secrets her father left with her before he headed to Europe. She's promised not to say anything and does her best to keep his secret. In turn, we begin to learn about secrets the other family members harbor.

What is it about secrets? I know there are times we think certain secrets are to be kept, when they'd be helpful if revealed. Then there are those precious secrets that once brought to light cause damage never dreamed of. This is exampled as we listen to the stories of Eliasz and Josef during their time in the Warsaw Ghetto of WWII.

White Picket Fences certainly is a detour from The Shape of Mercy and underscores the strength and gift of Susan Meissner's writing. This is not what I would consider light reading, but it is thoughtfully written and a must-have for any bookshelf.

Author Bio:

Susan Meissner cannot remember a time when she wasn’t driven to put her thoughts down on paper. Her novel The Shape of Mercy was a Publishers Weekly pick for best religious fiction of 2008 and a Christian Book Award finalist. Susan and her husband live in Southern California, where he is a pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves. They are the parents of four grown children.

I'd like to thank Staci at WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House for sending me my review & giveaway copy of White Picket Fences. To learn more about this and other great titles visit the Random House website.

To win a copy of White Picket Fences answer this question... tell me one of your family secrets. hahahaha Just kidding. Have you ever had family members stay with you for an extended period of time? Did it go well? Personally I've never had anyone stay with us for more than a day or so. I'd actually love to have family here for a week or two! My grandmother-in-law says she's happy 2x when people visit: when they come and when they go. :)

You must be a US resident, 18 yrs and older to enter. Giveaway will end November 20, 10pm CST. Void where prohibited. Winner is drawn using the Top Hat software. Leave an email address. Without an email you will NOT be entered.

Bearpaws Giveaway

Jennifer at The Dirty t Shirt is giving away a pair of Bearpaw shoes! Being from MN it gets stinkin' cold here. Being outside in the winter isn't typically my idea of fun, but with boots that truly keep feet warm, my opinion could be influenced. :)

I have to admit, the Bearpaw Stowe that she shows on her site is one of my favorites and I'm sure it would keep my little piggies warm as I spend the winter snow blowing. My favorite color is the Hickory/Champagne.

My mom loves fluffy, warm slippers and I know she'd love the Original slippers. My 16 yr old does chores out at the barn where we've kept our horses. She would love to have some warm boots to do them this year and I could see her diggin' the Bearpaw Altra.

Head on over to The Dirty t Shirt and check out all the different ways you could win! On the right side of her site you'll see all of her other giveaways listed as well!

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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.