Friday, 30 December 2011

Voting begins December 31!!

The Grace Awards is reader driven. That means in the first round readers vote for novels in five categories: Women’s Fiction(serious women’s issues, can have humor and/or suspense elements). Contemporary Romance/Historical Romance (the primary element is love/marriage, be it now or then). Suspense/Thriller/Mystery/Romantic Suspense/ Detective Series (crime fiction, there’s probably a body). Why you like the story: (At least 25 words) Speculative Fiction Title (SciFi, fantasy, horror, etc.). Action Adventure/Western/Historic Epic Fiction (exploits, quest, a feel of wide open spaces, expansive). Young Adult (appeals to ages 15 – 21-ish). Voting will begin on December 31st. Anyone who reads faith-based, inspy, Christian themed novels can vote. Authors can vote…but not for their own novel. Judges and Grace Awards Board members can vote…but not for a novel they’ve written. Anyone who reads Christian fiction can vote…but not until December 31st. The Grace Awards blog will have detailed instructions for voting and can be found here Stay tuned. You can also go to the Grace Awards group on Facebook or to the Grace Awards page to find information about voting.

Friday, 16 December 2011

My thoughts: Everyday Spiritual Warfare is an amazing book! The Wisdom found in this book is just beyond awesome! Our behavior affects everything and when you can understand certain things that cause us to react or even respond in a certain way, you will so much better off! This book would be AWESOME for small groups, or maybe you would like to do a study all by yourself! The Scripture list and the end of the chapter provides your weapon (The WORD) to use while in battle! Victory is yours!!! 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:

Everyday Spiritual Warfare

Next Step Books (September 8, 2011)

***Special thanks to Christy Delliskave of Next Step Books for sending me a review copy.***


Amy Barkman is the Director of Voice of Joy Ministries, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and the pastor of Mortonsville United Methodist church. She and her husband Gary live in Danville, KY and together have seven children, thirteen grandchildren, and one great grandson. Amy loves to read and to travel.

Visit the author's website.


Everyday Spiritual Warfare gives practical knowledge for victorious living in a fallen world. Rev. Barkman has shared this wisdom in workshops, retreats, and sermons in several states over the past few decades. Both new and mature Christians have found the material very helpful in their walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.

“This is a helpful manual that reminds the Body of Christ of the tremendous responsibility and awesome power we have through the Holy Spirit. Enjoy this book from Amy Barkman and be empowered to step out and up in Faith.” - Dr. Stephen and Kellie Swisher, Kenneth Copeland Ministries

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 246 pages
Publisher: Next Step Books (September 8, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937671003
ISBN-13: 978-1937671006


Spiritual Warfare Principles I

Praise the Lord for His mercy endureth forever.

II Chronicles 20:21

I came up out of the baptismal waters with eager anticipation. Rising to newness of life - what a relief. But as soon as I got to the changing room it was obvious that my extra twenty pounds rose with me. And the straight auburn hair I’d longed for all my life had not replaced my curly brown tresses. Within an hour there was no question about the desire to smoke a cigarette passing away; it didn’t. By the end of the month the blood test proved that my triglyceride level was still as high as ever. “Hey God, what happened? I thought you said all things would be made new.”

There’s a story in the Bible that reminds me of the way I felt after my baptism.

The Nation of Judah settled in the land that God promised them. And most of their enemies were destroyed in battle. But one day three armies showed up to surround them.

King Jehoshaphat called a fast and they all went to God in prayer. They said, in essence, “Hey, God, what happened? Here are three armies come to destroy us. They are from the three tribes you wouldn’t let us destroy when we came into this land. We don’t have any power against them so we’re looking to you. You do something!”

One day, many years after my disappointing baptismal experience, I was reading this story and the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Look up the meaning of the names of those three armies.” So I did. The three armies are Moab, Ammon, and Mt. Seir.

Moab means “of the father,” Ammon means “tribal,” and Mt. Seir means “goat or devil.” Light dawned into my mind concerning the plight of the reborn, new creature in Christ that is the true Church.

We who accept Jesus Christ as our savior are born again. We begin a brand new life – the promised land. And just by that act of receiving Jesus as Savior, we defeat more enemies than we can imagine. But there are three enemies that are left in our promised land. Three armies that come against us to destroy.

Moab, “of the father," is symbolic of the genetic conditions we inherit in our bodies and personalities. When we are born again we do not get a new body but are stuck with the DNA given to us.

Ammon, “tribal,” is symbolic of the cultural situation into which we are born.

When we are born again, we are not transported into a perfect society but are bombarded all our lives with the evils in the world around us.

Mt. Seir, “goat or devil,” is symbolic of the forces of the devil who comes to kill, steal, and destroy. When we are born again, we are not automatically placed out of reach of the enemy.

We are born again children of God with the new life He promised but these three armies want to destroy us. And here they are – right in the promised land – genetic inheritance, cultural surroundings, and the devil with his destructive forces.

You may ask, “Why doesn’t God get rid of these enemies for us?” The answer is simple. He will. God did not leave these three enemy armies here so they could destroy us. He says to us, just as He said to His chosen people centuries ago, “… Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (II Chronicles 20:15).

His plan is to overcome them.

Paul wrote “… we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).

What does it mean to be more than a conqueror? The Greek word means preeminently victorious, or a winner before you even enter the battle. Wow! That’s good news indeed. And that is what God wants us to understand and practice.

But the way of winning battles through God is not the way of the world. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (II Cor. 10:4). There are some basic principles of spiritual warfare and we have to learn them if we are going to be winners in life. The first, and most important, principle is:


This doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do. God’s Instruction Book, the Bible, is full of exhortations such as, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7) and “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). You are to resist the devil and stand against his schemes.

But did you notice? When your battle against the devil is mentioned, your relationship with God is also mentioned. You can’t win against evil in your own strength. But God won’t win in this physical realm without your cooperation.

When the nation of Judah sought the Lord for help against the armies that came to destroy them, they were told to present themselves but not to fight. Their response was to put a group of singers in the forefront of the army. Order of presentation was a way of protection in ancient times. The strong men, who were trained and able to fight, were at the forefront when meeting an opposing force, with the women, children, elderly and weak at the rear in the place of protection.

This time, however, the strong fighting men were among those being protected and the singers and praisers, which may have included women and children, went out first. We are told that when they began to sing and to praise God for His mercy, the Lord Himself caused the three armies to be defeated.

This story illustrates several principles of spiritual warfare. The first is evident and stated above … only God can successfully defeat evil.

“Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies” (Psalm 108:13).

The second basic principle of spiritual warfare is:


This principle is illustrated in the story we just examined. When the tribe of Judah praised God for His mercy to them, He showed no mercy to their enemies but caused them to be destroyed. “And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten” (II Chronicles 20:22).

King David, from an earlier time in the history of God’s people, mentioned this principle in several of his songs. He sang, “I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence” (Psalm 9: 2, 3). When David sang praises to the name of God, He showed up in person.

What does it mean to sing praises to the Name of God? In today’s society, we have largely lost the understanding of names. When ancient men talked about the name of something or someone, they were talking about its or their essential nature or character.

God revealed Himself to Israel throughout the centuries by His Names through His actions. He revealed Himself, His essential nature, His character, as

Jehovah Jireh – the Lord your Provider

Jehovah Rapha – the Lord your Healer

Jehovah Tsidkenu- the Lord your


Jehovah Rohi – the Lord your Shepherd

Jehovah Shalom – the Lord your Peace

He revealed other aspects of Himself through names and eventually revealed Himself as Jesus – the Lord your Salvation.

When we praise His name, we are to be praising that aspect of Himself that we need to see active in our situation. Jesus quoted Psalm 8: 2, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings has thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” He quoted it on the occasion that we know as Palm Sunday when the chief priests and scribes were upset because the children were crying out, “Hosanna to the son of David” (Matthew 21: 15,16).

Hosanna is a word which means “Save.” By shouting out that word to Him, the children were recognizing Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior - and the religious people didn’t like it. Jesus then quoted Psalm 8, but instead of saying, “out of the mouths of children you have ordained strength”, He said, “out of the mouths of children you have ordained praise.” Jesus equated strength and praise, validating this principle that your battles are won by God as you praise Him for His mercy toward you in that area.

Some people say “Praise the Lord!” a lot. And there is certainly nothing wrong with saying that, but think about it. If you are going to praise a family member or friend, you don’t just say “Praise Richard!” or “Praise Tracy!” You say “Richard has a wonderful sense of humor.” Or “Tracy is very generous and kind.” So it should be with God. To truly praise Him is to announce gratitude for His specific acts and attributes. And most often it will be as the army of Judah proclaimed, “Praise the Lord for His mercy endures forever.”

One problem in our society that keeps us from understanding this principle is our picture of God as separate from us, doling out punishment or reward from outside our world. Many see God as an old man sitting on a throne pointing a finger downward toward earth and shooting lightning bolts to affect the physical realm. We can’t praise Him if we don’t really understand what He is like.

The apostle John opens his gospel by giving us the true nature of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). God is Spirit, Jesus tells us in John 4:24. He is Person who defines Himself by concepts and ideas. The very meaning of the word Word is “thought expressed.” WORD becomes flesh and has ever since God defined and spoke the physical universe into existence with the concept “Light!” Light energy is the basic component for all physical existence. God and His Word are the source of all Life. When we understand that, we can praise Him for being the ongoing Creator.

This concept of God as Spirit and Word is too big for our finite minds to understand completely all at once. But when we plant the seed of understanding and let it grow, we will one day know why Jesus told us that the parable of the sower sowing the Word was necessary for understanding all He teaches (Mark 4:13, 24). God is Spirit and He defines Himself in words. Those spoken words change our circumstances. To praise Him for specific actions and attributes is to bring those actions and attributes into the physical realm. “It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

We need to recognize that the devil and his followers are also spirit – evil spirits. They convey evil concepts - ideas and concepts that are contrary to the thoughts that God expresses to you through His Word. Just as we know God is not an old man sitting on a throne, the devil is not a man in a red suit holding a pitchfork, and evil spirits are not gargoyles. The Spirit realm, both good and evil, wants to affect the physical realm.

The more we understand God’s nature, the more we will praise Him, and the more we praise Him, the more we will see Him active in our lives.

The story of Jehoshaphat and the battle against the three armies illustrates a third principle.


We’ve already looked at those three fronts in the account described in II Chronicles 20. Remember that in the Bible, names are very important because a name designates the nature of something. We often miss a lot of information that God wants to convey to us in His Word by not discovering what a person or group or place symbolizes.

The first thing I noticed the day the Lord was teaching me from this passage was that the third army is not mentioned at the beginning. “It came to pass after this also that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle” (II Chronicles 20:1).

Moab, representing our genetic inheritance, and Ammon, representing our cultural situation are identified right away. The third army is only mentioned as “and with them, other besides.” The group that came along with the first two armies isn’t named until verse 10.

“And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom thou would not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt …” Mount Seir comes along with those things that attack us through our birth and cultural situations in life. As we saw earlier, the name Mount Seir means “goat or devil” and represents evil spirits, devils, demons, messengers of the enemy.

Spiritual enemies, evil spirits or devils, cannot just attack you physically – they have no bodies; they come in with the inherited and cultural enemies of your perfect happiness and your perfect good. When something has been established in you through your family heritage or cultural situation, then spiritual evil comes along with it to create and insure a stronghold.

My father’s family has a history of blood lipid disorder so out of balance that it was reported in medical journals. My brother and sister and I were the subjects of experimental research to develop drugs to reduce blood lipids. I inherited this disorder as extremely high triglycerides. With medication and moderate obedience to dietary good sense, my triglycerides stay at a healthy level, for me. Without medication and eating right, I get very sick.

The proclivity to high triglycerides is a genetic thing (Moab); the wrong diet is a cultural thing (Ammon); and the enemy (Mount Seir) comes along with those things to kill, steal, and destroy my life and the ministry that the Lord Jesus wants to accomplish through me. But when I praise Him for His mercy and thank Him that He is my life and my health, I receive His health and restoration, even when I have been unwise.

When the people of Judah went to God with their plea for help, they reminded Him that He would not let them invade and destroy these three armies at the time they entered the promised land. He left these possible enemies in the land.

In the same way, when you became a Christian you did not get a new body with a new genetic makeup. You were not translated into a perfect society with perfect cultural habits.

You were left with your genetic and cultural situation in a place where evil spirits operate through these things to kill, steal, and destroy all that God has promised you. In other words, you are in a war against the flesh, the world, and the devil. And you can’t win.

But God can.


Principles of Spiritual Warfare

Only God can successfully defeat evil.

Praising God brings Him on the scene.

Evil attacks on three fronts.

Scripture Truths
“Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” II Chronicles 20:15
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John 1:1

“And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord sat ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.” II Chronicles 20:22

“Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings has thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2

“I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.” Psalm 9:2,3

Everyday Spiritual Warfare

© 2011 by Amy Barkman

Published by Next Step Books, P.O. Box 70271, West Valley City, Utah 84170
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without written permission of the author, except for brief quotations in printed reviews.

All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.

Barkman, Amy

Everyday Spiritual Warfare

ISBN-13: 978-1937671006

ISBN-10: 1937671003

Monday, 12 December 2011

God gave us Love ~ review

My Thoughts: Wow you guys! This book was just amazing! There truly aren't any words that I could say that would express how much I LOVE Lisa T. Bergren's work! Everything about her books in this series is wonderful! The colors, the story-line, and the joy received while reading it with one or both of my grandchildren in my lap!! I will be reading these books for many years to come!! Thank you sooo much Lisa! A definite 5 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥'s! 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:

God Gave Us Love board book

WaterBrook Press; Brdbk edition (December 20, 2011)

***Special thanks to Laura Tucker, WaterBrook Multnomah Publicity, for sending me a review copy.***


LISA BERGREN is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty books, with more than two million copies sold. A former publishing executive, she now splits her time working as a freelance editor and writer while parenting three children with her husband, Tim, and dreaming of the family’s next visit to Taos.

Visit the author's website.


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.” Now in a sturdy format, ideal for the littlest hands at storytime, bedtime, or anytime. Would make a great Christmas gift!

Product Details:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 0 and up
Board book: 22 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Brdbk edition (December 20, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307730271
ISBN-13: 978-0307730275

Here's an excerpt from the first book in the series: God Gave Us You (Board Book). (Click on images to see them larger):

Friday, 9 December 2011

The Names of God Bible ~ Review

My Thoughts:
A few years ago, I did a Bible Study on the Names of God. IT.WAS.POWERFUL! The study focused on about 15 of Gods Names and their meaning. When I received the opportunity to review this Bible with more than 10,000 names of God, I was so Excited!

The Names of God Bible is so amazing on so many levels! First off, Billy Graham endorses it ~ The Translation (GW-God's Word) is sooo easy to read and understand~ and The pages within are sooo pretty!!! Ann Spangler shares her prayer for this Bible: "Everyone who encounters God's names within this Bible will be led into a deeper experience of His goodness and Love"

For me, learning the names AND the meanings behind each name is so very humbling. The Names of God reveal more of HIS Love, HIS Protection, and sooo much MORE! I know that having the head knowledge of these names is one thing, but when that Head knowledge is coupled with our Heart.... WOW! The Spirit then brings forth LIFE!!

If you want to know more about your Heavenly Father, your ABBA and HIS Names ~ Please look into this Bible!

About this Bible:

Open the door to a more intimate relationship with God

Discover the Hebrew names of God within the biblical text
Encounter God through prayers, promises, and devotional readings
Experience God's character more deeply by studying his names
One of the best ways to get to know God on a deeper level is to know his names and titles as revealed in Scripture. Now the bestselling author of Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus uncovers the richness of God's character and love found in his names right within the Bible text.

The Names of God Bible restores more than 10,000 occurrences of specific names of God--like Yahweh, El Shadday, El Elyon, and Adonay--to help readers connect with the Hebrew roots of their Christian faith and experience a deeper understanding of God's character. Perfect for personal study, prayer, and reflection, The Names of God Bible includes these special features:

More than 10,000 names and titles of God restored to their Hebrew equivalent and printed in brown ink to stand out within the biblical text

Names of God reading paths lead readers to the next reference of the name so they can pray and study the names of God throughout Scripture

Name Pages feature

background information associated with the most important names and titles of God
key Scripture passages in which the name is revealed
devotional readings for each of the featured names
specific Bible promises connected to each of the featured names
Calling God by Name sidebars shed light on the relationship between biblical people and the specific names they called God

A Note From Ann Spangler:

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Cat Lovers Devotional ~ review

If you are a cat lover...This book is for YOU!! The devotions are sometimes very deep and thought provoking! Honest stories that share a true walk in Faith, while others bring a smile to your face! Honestly, I have been pleasantly surprised and I think you will too!

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 authors are:

and the book:

The Cat Lover’s Devotional

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Susan Otis, publicist, Creative Resources, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***


M. R. Wells is the co-author of Four Paws from Heaven, Purr-ables from Heaven, and Paws for Reflection. She has written extensively for children’s animated television and video programs, including several Disney shows, Adventures from the Book of Virtues and Bibleman. She shares her Southern California home with her cats and dogs Muffin, Bo, Munchie, Becca and Marley.

Connie Fleishauer is a retired teacher and writer, and is the co-author of Four Paws from Heaven, Purr-ables from Heaven, and Paws for Reflection. The wife of a Bakersfield, California farmer, she is a mother of three and grandmother of one. While many cats have warmed her home, currently, she has two dogs.

Dottie P. Adams is a teaching director for Community Bible Study in the Los Angeles area where she has taught a Bible class for twenty years. Co-author of Purr-ables from Heaven, she is the wife of a retired physicist, the mother of three children, grandmother of five, and currently has cats Midnight and Mooch.

Visit the authors' website.


A new devotional for cat lovers will delight and impart truth about God’s ways, workings in our lives and our relationship with Him. Entertaining true accounts of the antics and personalities of cats are interwoven with anecdotes from the lives of the people who love them and timeless biblical truth. Suitable for adults, youth or children, the stories are filled with gripping moments that reveal God’s love and would lend themselves well to family or personal devotions.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736928812
ISBN-13: 978-0736928816


Midnight’s Not-So-Rapid Transit

Relationships Take Time

We always have time enough, if we will but use it aright.


I love sitting at the dining room table on spring mornings, watching the stark darkness turn into a misty dawn as the birds sing to announce the new day. It’s a great time to be alone with the Lord. The house is quiet because I’m the only “early bird” up besides the real ones chirping outside.

As I sat praying one particular morning I heard a loud thump on the window behind me. It was Midnight, asking to come in for breakfast. She always bangs her head against the windowpane to get my attention. Then she rubs her nose against the window frame and meows softly, knowing I will come outside to fetch her. I call this her “rapid transit,” even though she could come in much more quickly through the cat door. But it’s not the quickness she desires—it’s the contact.

As Midnight softly meowed and rubbed that morning I pulled on a jacket and headed outdoors to perform the rite we both love. I cozy up to the air conditioner, which is exactly the height of my shoulders. She steps from the machine to my shoulder as I guide her. She drapes herself around me with her front paws on my left shoulder, her belly nestling the back of my neck, and her back paws hanging down over my right shoulder. As her face presses against me, she purrs into my left ear. I understand that this is her ride to her food bowl—but it’s so much more. Not only do I get a smell of the morning air, I have precious moments of special closeness with my “living fur shawl.” It’s a joy to have this relationship with one of God’s little four-foots—a joy I treasure!

Like my cat, my youngest grandchild also loves to cuddle. He and his brother and their parents live with us right now. I often spend part of the morning upstairs working on lectures for the Bible study class I teach. Eli and Jayden are awake by the time I come downstairs. Jayden (age two and a half) is content to smile, call to me, and continue his play. But Eli (18 months) wants more. He rushes over to me, crying “Maw-Maw!” Then he tugs at my clothes till I pick him up so he can snuggle. As soon as he’s in my arms, he lays his head tightly against me, his ear pressed against my chest. He stays that way for what is a long time for a toddler. It’s a joy to have this special time with him, and I treasure it too!

I also treasure the special relationship time I spend with God. Most mornings I go to Him in prayer, even if it’s just to ask His blessing on my family. I spend a few moments reading the Bible, even if it’s just one verse to connect my mind to Him. I call this “having coffee with Jesus.”

I get my coffee and intentionally ask Jesus to sit with me as if He were here in the flesh. I picture Him sitting right across the table. I talk about the previous day or the day to come. I weep with Him over hardships I’m facing or the suffering of others. I laugh and rejoice with Him over answered prayer. I share my needs and thank Him for being my friend. Sometimes I imagine Him smiling back at me, and other times I believe He brings a verse of Scripture into my mind to correct me or give me hope or courage.

Building close relationships takes time. It must be intentional. It can’t only happen when it’s convenient. Jesus lived this out when He walked the earth. He called each of His disciples and poured His life into them for three years. And He always took time to pray and be with His Father in heaven.

Midnight intentionally bumps the window to begin our special time together. I intentionally respond, even if she’s interrupting something pressing. When Eli wants to snuggle, I take time to enjoy his toddler love, even if I’m in a hurry. I have coffee with Jesus in the same way. Whether it’s convenient or not, I take the necessary time not just to go through my prayers, but to be with my Lord. I believe He delights to hear me purring in His ear as I start the day with Him!

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly (Psalm 5:3).
Consider This:

Do you set aside time to be with God each day? If so, how does it enhance your relationship? If not, would you be willing to try?

Perry’s Good Shepherd

Be a Shepherd for God

The King of love my Shepherd is,

Whose goodness faileth never;

I nothing lack if I am His,

And He is mine forever.


Perry is a very special kitty, the first to live indoors with my in-laws, Harold and Doris. They got him from relatives who could no longer keep him. He is totally enjoying his new life as he chooses where to sleep and whose lap to jump on for some pampering. This gorgeous fluffy orange cat with bright peridot eyes knows just what he wants and how to get it. He loves Harold and Doris, but like all ornery kids he knows how to work them.

On one particular evening when I’d been visiting with them, Perry decided to be a bit more playful than anyone desired. When we walked out the back door, Perry slipped out behind us and followed. He darted under my car to hide. I saw him first and began to call him, but there was no way he was going to obey me. This was playtime. He raced to the back of the vehicle and sprinted down the long driveway.

Harold and Doris live in the country, but their home is near a popular road where cars drive fast. Perry could have been in great danger. He would have had little chance of survival on this road in the dark of night. Fortunately, his faithful master took care of him. As I started to go after the truant, Harold stopped me. He said, “Cover me with the flashlight and I’ll go get him.”

Although Perry was ornery, perhaps this cat had some “horse sense.” He got close to the road but turned aside. He darted into the pasture at the east end of the farm. Perry slunk down in the high grass while Harold, age 82, tried to sneak up on the mischievous feline in his stocking feet in the dark. I felt bad that Harold would not let me join him in the pursuit, but this was his cat, his “child,” his responsibility. He was Perry’s “good shepherd,” and he was acting as any good shepherd would. Giving up or giving in was never an option.

Finally, Perry seemed to realize that Harold was in charge (or he chose to let Harold think he was). Perry hunkered down and let his human grab him. I could tell that even though Harold was tired and his stocking feet were muddy, he was pleased to have Perry back safely in his arms.

Harold probably just thought of this as another one of many chases he had with Perry. But to me, it was more. It was a reenactment of the Parable of the Lost Sheep. In Matthew 18:12-14, Jesus talks about the shepherd who left the rest of his flock to search for the one little lost sheep that had wandered off.

Many years ago, I was just such a lost sheep. Just before entering high school, I had been making some very poor choices. I had accepted Jesus as my personal Savior when I was six years old, and I had gone to church all my life. But at this time, I decided to explore my small world in ways I didn’t need to. I had chosen to be with some “friends” who weren’t true friends, and we had done some things we needed to confess.

My older brother talked to me about what I was doing. He asked if I really wanted to go to high school with that baggage. He stayed with me until I prayed and promised that I would try to obey God and behave like His child. Darrell was my shepherd at that point, and many other times through my teenage years. When I was lost, he went looking for me till he found me. He’d bring me home and nurture me the way a brother or a shepherd would.

The story of the lost sheep had great meaning to me as I was growing up. I loved thinking about the caring shepherd picking up the scared, tired little lamb in his strong arms and carrying it home. I still take comfort in this parable today. It is a way of telling us that we will never be left alone. No matter what our age, if we choose to run off by ourselves, like Perry did that night, our Good Shepherd will always go after us and bring us home in His loving arms, if we allow Him to.

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent (Luke 15:4-7).

Consider This:

Have you ever strayed from God? What lured you away? How did your Good Shepherd pursue you? Did you let Him carry you home? If not, would you like to do that right now? Is there someone God might want you to shepherd for Him?

Undying Love

Be “Otherly”

True happiness is found in unselfish Love, a Love which increases in proportion as it is shared.


Tigret was my dear friend Patty’s treasured four-footed kitty soul mate for 17 wonderful years. He was her first real pet and best buddy. They lived together in New York, and when Patty moved to California, Tigret made the cross-country journey with her.

When Patty watched TV, Tigret would curl up beside her. He slept on her bed at night. When she gave parties, he sat on his very own chair. But he was more than a faithful companion. Patty once heard someone say that God gives us each a pet to teach us something special. She feels Tigret was given to her to teach her to be “otherly”—to love others and God with an unselfish love.

Tigret knew Patty’s moods. He sensed when she was sad or happy. He would put his paw on her lap or hand in a gesture of kitty comfort. He also seemed to know when she was sick—sometimes even before she did. He would stay close by his beloved human until he sensed she was better.

Tigret’s ultimate expression of unselfish love was to care for Patty even when he was dying. He was 17 and had developed kidney problems. He couldn’t drink enough water to stay healthy, and giving him fluids subcutaneously didn’t work well. He would yelp when the needle was inserted. Patty decided not to force this on him. Tigret got sicker and sicker until it took all his strength just to go upstairs. Clearly Tigret’s time on this earth was ending. Patty made him as comfortable as she could…even as her own heart was breaking.

One day, as Patty tended Tigret in tears, he reached out his paw and placed it on her arm. It was as if he was saying, “You’ll be okay.” When Tigret died, Patty wasn’t with him. She believes he knew it would be easier for her that way.

Someone else in Patty’s life also tried to care for her while dying. Patty’s mother passed away just one month after Tigret. She had battled cancer before—but no one knew it had come back.

Patty’s mom was a pediatric cardiologist. In her later years she semiretired from private practice and became involved in teaching and mentoring medical interns and residents. She kept this up even when the cancer returned, and Patty would not have realized that something was wrong except for God’s intervention.

It was a Sunday after church, and Patty had gone up front for prayer on a completely unrelated matter. The gentleman who prayed with her asked Patty how her mother was. “As far as I know, okay,” Patty answered. The man suggested Patty ask her mom about her health. When Patty did, her mom admitted her cancer had come back.

Just like Tigret, Patty’s mom was concerned for the needs of others, even as her own health was failing. She tried to keep teaching. She talked to Patty about taking care of her dad. When Patty finally persuaded her to go to the doctor, he said she had six to nine months to live. They could try chemotherapy, but there was no guarantee.

Patty’s mom took her first dose of chemo—and passed away a week later.

Patty recalls a moment in her mother’s hospital room. Her mom was on a ventilator. Patty saw two angels in a corner by the bed. Patty knew her mom loved Jesus and would go to be with Him. She died soon after. That experience feels to Patty like a special gift from God.

Our loving Lord Jesus was also “otherly” when it was time for Him to die. As His betrayal and crucifixion approached, His focus was to teach and prepare His disciples. In John 16:5-7, He told them, “Now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” Even as He hung on the cross, Jesus asked His disciple John to care for His mother.

But Jesus’ sacrificial love went far deeper. He willingly took upon Himself the penalty for our sins. By doing so, He conquered sin and death so that all who put their trust in Him could enjoy eternal life. Patty has given her life to her Savior, and she knows that when she leaves this earth she will go to her loving Lord, who will wipe away all her tears, including the ones she shed for Tigret and her mother. And she’ll be reunited with her mom again.

Being “otherly” isn’t something that starts when we are dying. It’s a way of life. It’s what Jesus calls us to do. If you live and love with an “otherly” focus, as Tigret and Patty’s mom did, you will show that you are Jesus’ disciple!

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:10-11).

Consider This:

Is there someone in your life who loves you unselfishly? How do they do that and how does it make you feel? How could you focus more on others and be more sensitive to their needs? What could you do to show them “otherly” love?

The Hidden Gifts of Helping~ Giveaway

During the Christmas Season, many search for those in need so that they can provide a Blessing in one form or another. Then, there are those in need who are wondering just how they will get by during this season! Helping others doesn't always mean giving a financial gift, it could be the gift of time, or maybe just doing some physical labor around their house. Author Stephen G. Post shares his story as well as all the gifts "giving to others" provides!

To enter the giveaway please leave a comment sharing about a time you gave of your time, or money, etc. and how it blessed you and the recipient OR leave a comment sharing about a time someone gave to you in a time of need and how that affected your life at that time!

Giveaway open til Tuesday Wednesday December 14, 2011!

The Hidden Gifts of Helping:
Do Good Things for Others This Holiday Season
Article by Stephen G. Post,
Author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping,a Wall Street Journal bestseller

Ebenezer Scrooge begins in The Christmas Carol with a “Bah humbug!” He is both miserly and miserable. As the story unfolds, he eventually discovers the “giver’s glow,” as I like to term it. He is dancing on the streets in the enduring joy of his newfound generosity of heart. I compare the giver’s glow to a glow stick that children get at parades and fairs. These are the translucent plastic tubes containing substances that when combined make light through a chemical reaction. After the glass capsule in the plastic casing is broken, it glows. The brokenness is part of the process. Give and grow, give and glow. Scrooge discovered this before it was too late.

Human beings are wired to give of themselves for noble purposes, regardless of circumstances. Recently, I delivered a sermon in an African-American Baptist church in Coram, New York. The subject was how we benefit when we love our neighbor. Afterwards, a wonderful elderly woman, who was full of vitality, said to me, “You know, that giver’s glow is how we African Americans have been getting through hard times for two centuries!”

On the inside cover of a copy of The Book of Common Prayer, given to me in 1986 by the Rev. William B. Eddy of Tarrytown, New York, is an accumulating memorial list of twenty people I have known closely as models of kindness and generosity over the years. To get on the list a person must have passed on and, by all accounts, remained generous even in their final days. These are people who understood that happiness is not to be found just in the getting, but in the giving, and they taught by example. Have you noticed the warm glow in your heart that comes when you act kindly? They had a deep sense of common humanity, and they all had a certain happiness about them—a sort of gaiety that comes with a life well-lived and rightly inspired.

In my most recent book, The Hidden Gifts of Helping: How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get Us Through Hard Times (Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint), I describe a bit of an upheaval in my own life, and how helping others got me and my family through the inevitable tough times that come everyone’s way.

“After twenty years of being ‘at home’ in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, my job disappeared. Maybe we were too attached to Cleveland, and maybe God wanted us to move on. But as a family we never anticipated just how challenging up-rootedness is, especially when it is not something that you would have opted for in better times. So in June of 2008, we sold the house and moved east on Route 80 from Ohio to the George Washington Bridge, landing in Stony Brook. What a great place! But still, we just had not quite imagined how stressful such a move would be and how hard we would have to work to find renewed peace of mind and heart.

“Suddenly cut adrift from friends and community, we felt painfully uprooted—out of place, stressed out, disoriented and at odds with each other. Most movers suffer from a lack of companionship and intimate friends, at least temporarily, and doing this repeatedly is really tough. Fortunately, we had those twenty good years in Ohio. We struggled to find our footing with the move, determined to recreate the good life of community and friendships we all so keenly missed. The key turned out to be something we knew quite well, but learned to remember daily in our upheaval: the healing power of helping others. The medical prescription is this—Rx: Helper Therapy.

“Simply put, helping others helps the helper. Research in the field of health psychology, as well as all the great spiritual traditions, tells us that one of the best ways to get rid of anger and grief is to actively help others. Science supports this assertion: Giving help to others measurably reduces the giver’s stress; improves health and well-being in surprising and powerful ways; renews our optimism about what is possible; helps us connect to family, friends and lots of amazing people; allows the deep, profound joy of our humanity to flow through us and out into the world; and improves our sense of self-worth. These are valuable gifts anytime and particularly in hard times. If there is one great secret to life, this is it.”

After all was said and done, this move worked out. My wife found a grade school where she could continue her work as a teaching assistant for especially needy children, my son Drew volunteered at the hospital and I started working with families of individuals with autism. We eventually realized that wherever we are, we are at home when we can contribute to the lives of others. We got back in touch with the things that matter most, and maybe that is what hard times are for. We helped others in ways that we felt called to, we used our strengths so as to feel effective and we shared our experiences with family, faith community and like-minded others.

Eventually, of course, everyone stumbles on hard times, and no one gets out of life alive. Today, even those who had considered themselves protected from hardship are being touched and their lives changed by volatile economic markets, job uncertainty and the increasing isolation and loneliness of modern life.

Here are four things to keep in mind. First, as Washington Irving put it so well: “Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.” Second, love often does beget love, just as hate usually begets hate, and so good givers need to be good receivers. Third, we should never count on reciprocity because this is sure to be frustrating and ultimately small-minded. Better to take joy when those upon whom our love is bestowed do not “pay it back” to us, but rather “pay it forward” to others as they move through life remembering our good example. Or to bring this to the kitchen table, as I heard one Italian mother in Cleveland tell her son, “Love and forget about it!” And fourth, in I Corinthians Paul linked “faith, hope and love,” and he proclaimed that “love never fails.” What is faith but having confidence that no matter how harsh a particular scene in the drama of our lives or of history might be, it is love that wrote the play and love that will be revealed in the final act.

Do a little good this holiday season. The 2010 Do Good Live Well Survey,released by United Healthcare and VolunteerMatch (, surveyed 4,500 American adults. 41 percent of Americans volunteered an average of 100 hours a year. 68 percent of those who volunteered in the last year reported that volunteering made them feel physically healthier. In addition:

89% reported that “volunteering has improved my sense of well-bring”
73% agreed that “volunteering lowered my stress levels”
92% agreed that “volunteering enriched my sense of purpose in life”
72% characterized themselves as “optimistic” compared to 60% of non-volunteers
42% of volunteers reported a “very good” sense of meaning in their lives, compared with 28% of non-volunteers

How wise it is to do what one can to contribute benevolently to others!

Some individuals on my The Book of Common Prayer list were well known and others lived quiet lives out of the limelight. Some were appreciated and some not. We might prefer to think that loving servants of goodness would, after a long and successful life, die peacefully in their beds and all people would speak well of them at their funerals. But this is too simplistic. Everyone on my list experienced an enduring joy as a by-product of their generosity. Thus, the motto of my independent Institute for Research on Unlimited Love (, founded with the help of Sir John Templeton (who happens to be on my list!), is “In the giving of self lies the discovery of a deeper self.”

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

More Fall Fiction from Cladach Publishing

Love Rekindled by Candi Adermatt

About the Book:

When a wayward husband comes back into the lives of his wife and sons after years of separation, will they believe he has changed ... and can they forgive him? As a medical crisis forces the family members to face their fears, hurts and true desires, and the conflict develops toward a surprise resolution, the reader will feel the ebb and flow of subtle emotional tensions. Here's a relationship story with a twist - told from the man's point of view.

About the Author:

Candi is a member of Romance Writers of America. She has a B.A. degree in Business and works at Azusa Pacific University. She writes novels about contemporary issues from a Christian perspective that are the type of stories she wishes had been available to her as a young woman. Candi and her husband enjoy their four grown sons and their families and make their home in Southern California.

What Others Are Saying About Love Rekindled:

"Candy Adermatt's style of writing is captivating." ~ Charlene West, The Quiet Hour

"A wonderful story of redemption, forgiveness, and reconciliation... Beautifully addresses issues such as suffering, meaning, spiritual commitment, and the truth that people can change. Adermatt's ability to develop characters and express the complexity of their relationships is evident." ~ Dr. Holli Eaton

"The style of writing that keeps me interested and wanting more -- flowing and not excessively wordy. Not only is the story in itself riveting, but through it Candi also conveys the values of hope, forgiveness, and family relationships. I plan to give everyone I know a copy of this book!" ~ Stephanie Miyake

If you would like to read the 1st Chapter, you can go here

To Purchase Love Rekindled
The Kindle version is $6.99 and can be found HERE


You can Purchase straight from the Publisher ~ and IT'S ON SALE!!! Go HERE

Happy Reading!

Monday, 5 December 2011

F.A.I.R.I.E.S. Baptism of Fire

You know those times when you were younger and you would be sooo upset with someone in your family? Maybe you might even wish to be in a different family altogether? Well, that is just what happened to Mellie. She was feeling sorry for herself as she walked down to the beach to get away from her older sisters. She is wishing for a new life, an important life, and one that really mattered! As Mellie continued on her walk, she realized she no longer recognized the area where she was walking and then she meets "walking stick" or you might say he looked like a tree twig. He not only looked odd but he spoke too! With a British accent!
He shares with Mellie that she is the Chosen one and must follow him. She wasn't quite sure what to do but once they arrived, Mellie had never seen a place like this before! She is going to go to school...and what a school it is! Here she will learn what it means to be a Fairie -aka- a Fantascital, Aerial, International, Reasonably Inconspicuous, Emancipation Squad!

Mellie meets some amazing friends and I just fell in love with all of them. Just to name a few, you will meet an elf, a yeti, and even a limionade.

This book is sooo very good and would be EXCELLENT for younger kids from 11 and up! This is a Fantastic book for those who might want to read something like Narnia!!! M.C. Pearson brings us a wonderful fantasy world and allows the reader to see an example of a deep faith and wonderful friendships!!

A Definite 5 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
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 & illustrator is:

and the book:

F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire

FIRST Wild Card Press (December 5, 2011)

***Special thanks to M. C. Pearson of FIRST Wild Card Press for sending me a review copy.***


M. C. Pearson graduated from San Jose State University with a B. A. in art, served as a multi-media illustrator in the United States Army, earning the rank of sergeant, and spent four years as a house parent for at-risk youth. Now married over 20 years, she homeschools her two children, volunteers with her church youth group, and runs a book review blog alliance (FIRST Wild Card Tours) while writing and drawing. F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire is her first novel.

Visit the author's website.


Unwittingly chosen to join an army of fairies, who fight for the Light of the One, a teenaged girl learns about spiritual warfare as she attends a military academy with fantastical beings.


Here lies a most precious treasure,
Awaiting one Chosen to deliver.

Seek out the red cousins in the East,
For on this your greed mustn't feast.

The wealth of a species now in your hands,
Do with it as the light demands.

Give them your gift to unite,
For it is the darkness we all must fight.


"Imagination runs wild in F.A.I.R.I.E.S. Pearson brings young readers through a looking glass and into a world bursting with adventure, heroism, and fascinating creatures. Readers will be inspired to be true to the One and left with anticipation of more to come."
--Jill Williamson, award-winning author of
By Darkness Hid, and other books

"Sprinkled with delightful illustrations, and brimming with a full bestiary of magical creatures, F.A.I.R.I.E.S. is a fun, clever romp through the alternate landscape of the most magical world of all, our own. Read, and take up the call: 'Defend and Emancipate!'"
-- D. Barkley Briggs, author of
The Book of Names, and other books

"F.A.I.R.I.E.S. will appeal to readers who love the interplay of fantasy and reality. A rich cast of eccentric characters and exotic settings make this a fun addition to the folklore of the battle between good and evil."
--Mike Hamel, author of

"F.A.I.R.I.E.S. is one of those rare gems I want to tell everyone about. It's highly imaginative, packed with adventure, and full of hope. A must read for kids and for kids at heart. Even better than Narnia! I was thinking about Pearson's wonderfully memorable characters for days."
--C.J. Darlington, author of
Thicker than Blood

"Ms. Pearson's extravagant and imaginative F.A.I.R.I.E. kingdom will surely delight the young and the young-at-heart in this tale of good and evil, light vs. darkness. The fantasy-loving reader will not be disappointed!"
--Linore Rose Burkard, award winning author of
Before the Season Ends, and other books

Product Details:

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 482 pages
Publisher: FIRST Wild Card Press (December 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615530222
ISBN-13: 978-0615530222


Four thousand seasons shall pass while our swords grow rusty.

Where once one chose to divide, another shall be chosen to unite.

One changed the past, the other shall change the future.

One must emancipate the other to allow the light its dominion.

The realm, now torn, allows the shadow to abide, as humanity lies blind to its peril.

The bond of friendship must endure, for the army of shadows awaits another tear.

Dust off your swords.

Unite the realm.

Destroy the strongholds.

Foretelling of Didasko Gnome Digdeep






Off and Running

t was an accident!” Mellie yelled, not caring who heard or stared. Tears streaked her face as she fled down the Santa Cruz coastline, away from her family.

You don’t need them, a voice hissed in her ear, Escape. Run away.

Scorching sand burned at her feet and bitterness ate at her heart. Mellie pumped her legs as fast as they would go. Her feet pounded with the rhythm of her emotions, beating a tempo with the crashing waves. Run-a-way. Run-a-way. Run-a-way. Adrenaline pulsed through her veins, quickening her step.

Why did I have to be the youngest? Only 12 years old. Never smart enough. Never athletic enough. I just wish they loved me.

Once, just once, she wanted to do something that would make her sisters see that she wasn’t the stupid, awkward, ugly, little baby sister.

As she ran, she wiped away some tears with the palm of her hand. Her fingers settled on her large nose, a gift from her dad’s Hungarian ancestry.

Chelsea got the ski-slope shaped nose. I had to get Half-Dome. It just isn’t fair.

Her hand dropped to her side and she pinched at her stomach. It still had some of its baby fat.

Ugh, why are my sisters so perfect? What happened to me?

Pushing her short bangs from her forehead in disgust, she mumbled, “Maybe I’ll find treasure. I’ll be the rich one, and then they’ll have to accept me.” But she knew better. California didn’t hold any more undiscovered treasures.

The sand, hot and coarse, cut at her feet. I wish I had remembered my shoes. She wore only a black, one-piece swimsuit and a San Jose Sharks sweatshirt tied tightly around her waist.

Breathing rapidly, she began to tire. She slowed her pace to a walk and looked back across the beach. The sand was so hot that waves of heat rose from it and blurred her view. A lone seagull screeched overhead.

Her sisters were nowhere in sight.

Man, I thought for sure that Chelsea was going to chase me down and kill me.

She had to admit that it was a little gratifying to see the sand fly from her foot, covering Chelsea’s sub-sandwich and freshly oiled stomach. Grinning slightly, the tears stopped flowing. She rubbed her eyes.

Mellie looked in the direction of her sisters. “You guys can never take a joke.” Flipping her golden hair, she turned her head back toward her chosen path. She no longer smiled as she stomped her feet in the cold surf, remembering the hateful words that had been said.

“Oh, waa waa, you stupid cry baby! Go tell mommy! Maybe she’ll feel sorry for her ugly, fat baby. Why don’t you grow up? We don’t want you near us. Can’t you understand English? You are so dumb. Look at her mouth open. Oh wait, here she goes…come on, baby…cry!”

Mellie knew she couldn’t go back. They would only ridicule and torment her further. Her mom would never believe it was Chelsea’s fault. No, the evidence was on Chelsea’s side. Who was the one with the sand all over her oily, coconut-smelling body? Who was the one who had a sandwich full of sand? Mellie walked on.

After her temper finally cooled, it occurred to her that she had never walked so far alone.

How far have I gone?

A shadow passed over her, and she looked up. Nothing was there. A cool breeze from the ocean created a stark contrast to the scalding sand. She shivered but kept walking, lost in her loneliness.

Not until she stubbed her toe on a large broken clamshell did she look at the beach. A chill snaked up her back. Nothing appeared familiar. The sounds of the surf were still there, yet something was decidedly different. She felt dizzy. Looking around, she could not quite pinpoint the change. Then it struck her.

No people.

Where did everybody go?

Even though she could see no one, Mellie could swear that she felt eyes staring at her.

She looked inland across the sand, saw movement near some eucalyptus trees, but decided that the wind must have caused it.

Trees? So close to the beach?

Something shook the trees again, causing goosebumps to stand out on Mellie’s arms. Alarmed, she checked the skyline. The sun was close to setting. She hoped that the police weren’t out looking for her.

Suddenly cold, she pulled at the arms of the sweatshirt still tied around her waist. It fell to the sand. Bending to pick it up, she once again saw a blur of movement, except this time it came from a rocky outcrop by the waves. She shook the sand out of the sweatshirt and hurriedly tugged it over her head.

“Okay, I’m seeing things.” Mellie yanked at her hair, pulling it out of the sweatshirt. She stared at the sinister rocks. “Hel-lo?” Her voice cracked as she spoke louder. “Is someone the-ere? Hello?” No answer. The shadowy rocks seemed to quiver with excitement, beckoning her closer.

Hmm…probably just a seagull.

Even if it was a bird, she did not want to see it.

There’s no way I’m going over there.

The wind picked up and blew her hair into her eyes. The sand spun with the wind.

Yes, definitely time to move. I need to find a road.

She turned back toward the sweet smelling, oddly placed trees.

Mellie arrived at the base of the first, colossal eucalyptus tree. Without warning, one of the branches fell in front of her, then seemed to get up from the ground and pose its bottom stems in a military-like stance.

Mellie screamed and jumped back. “Branches don’t stand.”

“They do if they are walking sticks.” The eucalyptus branch chuckled, stretching to its full height, considerably taller than Mellie’s meager five feet.
She gasped, grabbed the branch, and threw it like a javelin, as hard as she could.

As she took off running, she heard a bark and halted. Turning, she saw a golden retriever bounding toward her with the stick in his mouth. The dog dropped it at her feet. She watched the dog run into the grove of trees and disappear before she fearfully turned back to the possessed stick.

It had already gained its footing again and stood over her. Mellie was too frightened to move this time.

A face emerged from the skinny twig and took on the characteristics of a male human, but none like Mellie had ever seen. He had hair made up in rolls as if it were a powdered, green-silver wig, the same color as the leaves that grew all around his skinny body. His face was long and his forehead high. The twiggy man smiled and said in a distinctly British, albeit breezy, accent, “Do not worry, you are safe.”

Mellie couldn’t answer.

“Ahh…I love new recruits. They are so easily addled.”

Feeling more confused than threatened, Mellie found her voice. “What? What do you mean, new recruits?” She rubbed her eyes, shaking her head. “Okay, I’m talking to a stick now. Yes, I have lost it. I have gone totally mental.”

“Oh, I say, am I to understand that I am the first to be revealed to you?” With round, leathery leaves, the branch resembled a toddler toy with rings stacked on one another.

She dropped open her mouth and nodded.

“Well, let me do this properly, then. Ahem. Mortal, made of clay, you have been Chosen to join the Fantastical, Aerial, International, Reasonably Inconspicuous, Emancipation Squads.”

“What? What are you? You look like a stick…but you can talk.”

“Yes, child,” the stick replied with a sigh. “But, I think we are quite past that by now. Have you not heard me? You have been Chosen.”

Mellie opened her mouth wider, closed it, frowned, and opened it once more. “Chosen? For what?”

“You did wish to be different? To change who you were? ’Twas an especially strong desire, yes?” The branch crossed its arms and tapped its twiggy foot.


“Dear me, this is highly unusual. You made a choice to run away from a miserable life and asked to be set free? Correct?”

“Well, I, ah…yeah. I guess so. What did you say about recruit for some squad?”

“Humph. I see that I was not understood. Yes? Let me elucidate. The Fantastical, Aerial, International, Reasonably Inconspicuous, Emancipation Squads , or shall I say F.A.I.R.I.E.S.? have accepted you into their organization. You asked. You were answered.” The branch attempted a smile, but looked impatient instead.

“Fairies? I don’t believe in fairies.” Mellie winced, half expecting him to fall down and writhe in pain until she clapped her hands.

“Quite right. You are not supposed to. If humans truly believed we existed, we would never get anything accomplished.”

Mellie laughed and looked around for a hidden camera, thinking this must be a joke. “Right. Ah…heh…okay, bud, brilliant costume,” she said, imitating the branch’s accent. “Where’s the zipper?” She reached toward him and touched a soft leaf.

The branch slapped her hand away and stamped its foot with a loud cracking noise. “I beg your pardon. I have not been a bud for over 800 springs!” He paced, his leaves crumpling, mumbling to himself about humans and why, in the One’s name, did he listen to that confounded gnome who told him that he needed to stand gate duty. With his rank!

“I’m sorry I upset you. Please, I’m very confused. I’m lost, and I just want to go home.” Mellie bit her lip.

The branch stopped mid-pace. “Home? Earlier, did you not wish for a new life? And riches? I know you wished for treasure, hmm?”

“How do you know that?” Mellie furrowed her brow. “Have you been reading my mind?”

The twig man didn’t answer her questions, asking his own instead. “Ahh, so, you admit this, yes?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Yes, but…well, this really isn’t what I had in mind.”

The branch threw up its twiggy fingers. “Oh, well, of course you did not have this in mind. After all, we are reasonably inconspicuous, especially to humans. How could you have this in mind? However, is it not superior of the One to think that this is what you would have chosen had you known about us? Anyway, ’tis irrevocable now. So, if you would just follow me, we shall get you signed in and enrolled for training.”

The branch marched off between the trunks of two large eucalyptus trees.

Mellie slid uncontrollably after the walking stick. She planted her feet firmly, refusing to budge, but she slid after him anyway. Grasping at branches of nearby trees, she panted heavily as she struggled to resist following the branch. Some kind of invisible tie connected her to him. He seemed to pull her along with his every step.

Mellie thought about her sisters and how mad they were at her. I’m dead meat if they find me. Mellie quickly gave up her battle and ran after the eucalyptus branch, barely keeping up with his stride.


The sand changed to coarse dirt, with pebbles and sticks. More and more trees filled Mellie’s vision. Bushes scraped against her bare legs and slapped her face as she moved deeper inside a forest of eucalyptus and redwood trees. She winced in pain as a razor-sharp rock sliced her foot. Stopping to nurse it, she wished once again for her forgotten shoes.

“Excuse me, sir?” Mellie looked around. She could not see the branch anywhere.

“Do not call me ‘sir’, I work for a living.” The branch peeked out from around one of the gigantic trees. “And please, try to keep up. We need to reach the gateway.”

Mellie limped up to him. “Sorry, sir…I mean…umm, what should I call you then?”

“Oh, well, we did skip that. Did we not? Yes, all right, an introduction then.” The branch man seemed to enjoy formal etiquette for he gave an elaborate wave and bowed. “My name is Regnans, family of Myrtaceae, born member of the F.A.I.R.I.E.S., Britannia Wing, rank of Master Nymph Dryad.”

“Nice to meet you, Reg…Reg?” Mellie chewed on the inside of her mouth. Never good at remembering names, she knew she would offend him with her lack of manners.

Sure enough, the dryad raised an eyebrow and pursed his lips. “Regnans.” He gave a hurt sniff, then drolly sneered. “If you find that a difficult name, you should meet the rest of my family, all seven-hundred thirty-four of them.”

“Sorry, I just…well, it is a lot to remember. It’s a nice name, though. My name is Maryellen Goodwin of Bret Harte Middle School, San Jose, California. But everyone calls me Mellie.” She stuck out her hand, intending to shake. Regnans stared at her.

“That is a strange curtsy. However, I guess ’twill do. We must get moving now. The shadows abound, you know.” Regnans made an about face and marched off faster than before.

Another hour passed, and still they strode along the forest floor. Mellie’s feet were now cut, blistered, and bleeding. She kept up as best she could with Regnans’s long stride. Whenever she tried to stop, he would pull her on with that invisible force of his.

Stupid, pompous, magical Star Wars freak.

She whimpered as she limped. Darkness and mist now covered the woods. As she was about to plead for a break, Regnans stopped. Except for her heavy gulps of air, all seemed quiet.

Regnans stiffened even more than usual. Nothing on him moved, apart from his eyes, which darted around quickly.

“All is safe, we may proceed.” He held up a twiggy finger to his woody mouth. “Please do not speak, and try not to breathe so abominably loud.”

Mellie nodded with a disgusted frown. Sweat dripped from her bangs. She tried to calm her breathing, even though her vision blurred, and her legs wobbled. Her blisters had popped by now and oozed wetness.

Regnans moved again, yet this time he took slow, deliberate steps, all the while scanning his surroundings. He walked up to a massive redwood tree and stroked its bark.

A breeze stirred up, rattling the leaves, sounding almost like spoken words. Mellie thought herself crazy again. However, the longer she stood there, the more she sensed that it really was the tree’s language, as if she had never listened to trees properly before. It said, “If you love, you will say the one true love that leads the way.”

Regnans whispered in a leaf rustling voice, “Ah-gaw-pay.”

A loud grumbling sound, as if someone awakened after a long sleep, shook the grove. The redwood tree opened two eyes, each the size of Mellie’s head, and blinked. A great fissure erupted below the eyes in the shape of a crescent, and redish-brown wooden teeth emerged. A long, knobby branch pushed its way out above the mouth and inhaled deeply.

The tree chuckled. Instead of the whispering leaves, a low, rumbling utterance of human speech came from the redwood tree. “Regnans? What brings you to my neck of the woods?” He blinked again. “And who is this? A new recruit? A human? A Chosen?”

Mellie knew she looked silly, standing there with her mouth in an ‘O’ shape, but she couldn’t move. This was simply impossible. There is no such thing as fairies!

“Yes, yes. Please open the gate, we must not dawdle here…they may be watching.” Regnans looked agitated.

A deep laugh resounded from the redwood. “Oh, Regnans. There are none who watch here.”

Regnans mumbled something about hamadryads and their pride, then proclaimed in a slightly louder voice to the tree, “We must be sober, be vigilant, because the shadow walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom it may devour.”

The hamadryad looked chagrined. “You speak true, dryad. Forgive me for acting like an arrogant seedling.” He glanced at Mellie, and with a lowered voice asked, “And what is your name, little human?”

Mellie managed to squeak out, “Mellie Goodwin.”

“Ah, ’tis always nice to have a Good Wind.” The hamadryad laughed heartily.

“Sorry to interrupt this lovely tete-a-tete,” Regnans said, “but would you please open the gate? I left Westside completely unguarded.”

An annoyed creak came from the base of the redwood, followed by a sigh. “Yes, Regnans. Agape you said, and agape it is. Go with the light, my friends.” The large, joyous eyes closed, and the hamadryad whispered in his leaf rustling voice, “Until we meet again, Good Wind.” His face disappeared, and his roots lifted and pulled apart, exposing a tunnel within his trunk.

Regnans grabbed Mellie’s hand with his rough, wooden one, and pulled her inside the opening. The tree closed itself abruptly and left them in total darkness.

Regnans cleared his throat and said, “Let there be light.”

A burst of dazzling brightness sparkled from the tunnel’s wall. Mellie glanced around and noticed a long, winding stairwell leading down into the ground.

“Shall we, then?” Not waiting for a reply, Regnans started down the steps.

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