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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!
and the book:
FaithWords (July 6, 2009)
Catherine Galasso-Vigorito's nationally syndicated weekly column, "A New You", has endeared her to readers across the U.S. for the last seven years. Known for her ability to uplift and encourage and for her warm engaging style and moving stories, Galasso is becoming American's most beloved inspirational columnist. Catherine is a former Miss Connecticut; she makes her home in Connecticut with her husband and three young daughters.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (July 6, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
The Key to the Kingdom of Heaven Is Also Our Key to Happiness on Earth
A dear friend once told me that I am giving to others what I need the most. Those words rang true then and continue to ring true today. What began as a simple idea—to share with others the inspiration that helped me overcome my own challenging times—has become my life’s mission.
As I write this book, I am humbled by the opportunity that I have been given: to impart to you the same seven keys—faith, persistence, optimism, hope, gratitude, love, and forgiveness— that have shaped my daily life, and to help you achieve the very best, your own heart’s desires, in your precious time here on earth.
I know, all too well, how words of encouragement, given at just the right moment, can save a life . . . because they saved mine.
Could it be that more than twenty years have passed since the fateful morning that changed my life? Although time has rushed by, it is still difficult for me to write this, and my computer screen blurs as tears fill my eyes.
One late evening in the spring of 1987, I had just returned home from a friend’s house. Earlier that afternoon, I had appeared in my hometown’s Memorial Day parade. Only six weeks earlier, I had been crowned Miss Connecticut, USA, and I was feeling on top of the world.
As I walked into our kitchen to get a glass of water, I heard a noise behind me. Turning, I saw my mother approaching me. “Oh, you startled me,” I said as I turned toward her, happy to see her. Mother was caring and kindness at its best. As a child, I always felt her love surround me, and even when I grew up, she cuddled me when no one else did. She had the gentlest heart I have ever known, and to me she was a living example of generosity and inner beauty. Relying on her faith in God, she lived life with grace and dignity. I remember her smile most of all, for she was always full of joy and happiest with a life of simple pleasures.
That night, for some reason, she seemed oddly weak and fragile. But I dismissed the thought and we talked a bit before I headed upstairs to my bedroom. Mother followed and told me her plans for the next day. Again I thought, She looks so frail. . . .
In retrospect, I wonder if God was trying to tell me something. But there was no reason to question her good health. Her eyes were bright and shining with her usual tenderness and affection. I recalled, weeks before, that she had gazed often at me with a look of contemplation . . . maybe of unease. What was in that look? Was there love in her eyes? Yes, always. Was there concern for me? Most definitely.
Now, looking back, I believe she sensed that her time on earth was fast concluding. That dim May evening was the last time I saw my mother alive. The next morning when I walked down the hallway, I cautiously entered my mother’s bedroom. There I found her, lying still and unresponsive, her breath silenced forever.
The word devastated cannot begin to describe how I felt upon the sudden loss of my mother and best friend. There were moments that I doubted I could even breathe. But there would be more.
Only one week after the funeral, I was forced to leave the only home I had ever known with barely the clothes on my back. That could have been the beginning of a bitter and discouraged approach to life. But for me, survival would come in the form of heaven-sent inspiration.
My mother was close beside me as I entered the most traumatic period of my life. I felt her presence constantly as she guided me to the Bible to seek comfort and inspiration during those darkest of years.
Gratefully, I filled my mind with God’s affirmative and life-giving promises, which helped me prevail as I pored over the Scriptures and inspirational books. Often I would delight in stories about men and women who had triumphed over adversity, drawing ever closer to God’s light.
Gradually, these stories began to heal my heart. I learned that the secret to getting through life’s challenges is not what happens to you, but what you do with what happens. The way we respond to what occurs will determine whether we will open the door to God’s grace, doing what we can and leaving the rest to Him—or leave it tightly closed.
As I persevered, trying to create the right open door for me, I felt an inspiration: to help other people. I thought, If encouraging, hopeful words helped me survive, then they can surely help others. I wanted to share messages of hope with men and women who, like me, were seeking strength, direction, and courage.
When I became a syndicated columnist, I found myself writing of experiences we all share of both the spirit and the heart. It has been the greatest blessing for me to have received, over the past fifteen years, thousands of beautiful letters from worldwide readers of my columns and the book that followed.
These moments of sharing have brought me an overflow of joyful stories from other lives lifted up from despair and enriched by encouraging words and stories. It has delighted me to see how others have opened themselves to the love and faith hidden deep within them.
Regardless of the present or future challenges they face, these men and women are grateful for every breath they have been given. And with each breath, they are giving thanks for the bright future that awaits them.
Although I would not choose to relive those dark days of long ago, I do give thanks for them, recognizing that they were a test God had set before me. Today, I have a loving husband,
three delightful daughters, and work that inspires me and gives hope to others.
Our magnificent Lord has wondrous plans for your life, too, and I am here to help you unlock those treasures within. All you need do is take each one of the seven keys to your heart’s desires and unlock the storehouse of the Lord’s riches that await you.
And what is the source of this treasure? It is one of the best gifts of all—the strength and faith that allow us to accept every experience as for our good, no matter how it first appears. As Romans 8:28 states, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NKJV).
Today, the times of change and challenge we face require more faith than ever before. When we support and uplift others, even in small ways, we are serving God. I rejoice in the Scripture that says, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40 NIV).
Like an old-fashioned lantern, the Word of God guides us as we take one step at a time. He sheds His light on the paths of our lives—a light of pure love, wisdom, and grace. Step-by-step, day after day, and year after year, the joy of the Lord grows brighter and brighter as we approach our home in His kingdom. Now, with these seven keys in hand, we can unlock the secrets to a life ablaze with the spirit of His love—right here on earth.
Courtesy of FaithWords. Copyright © 2009 by Catherine Galasso-Vigorito and FaithWords.
FaithWords is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
The FaithWords name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.