Monday, January 31, 2011

31 Days to a Younger You by Arlene Pellicane

Tour Date: Thursday, February 3rd

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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!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

31 Days to a Younger You

Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Christianne Debysingh, Senior Publicist, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Arlene Pellicane is an author, speaker, and formerly served as the associate producer for Turning Point Television with Dr. David Jeremiah. Her audiobook and website Losing Weight After Baby has helped many moms achieve their physical and personal goals. Arlene and her family make their home in southern California.

Please visit the author's website.


Arlene Pellicane offers readers a solution to looking younger and feeling younger in just 31 days. Women of all ages will benefit from Arlene’s beauty and health tips, along with her Biblical encouragement to “grow more beautiful from the inside out.”

Product Details:

List Price: $11.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736929037
ISBN-13: 978-0736929035


Back to First Grade

If you could go back in time, would you?

Most of us would pass because we remember the pain of puberty, high-school breakups, and dreadful first jobs. But what about those carefree kindergarten days when every morning brought a new chance to play?

My parents were born and raised in Indonesia, and they immigrated to New York before I was born. Shoveling snow was getting to my father, so when I was six, my family moved from New York to California. I tested out of first grade and began my new school as a second grader. Most people never knew I was younger than the other kids because I was tall.

Now that I have children, I wonder if there’s anything I missed by skipping first grade. First graders learn about addition and subtraction of whole numbers. They become masters of the alphabet, learning all the sounds and reading easy books. They are learning basic fundamentals and having lots of fun in the process.

Is it possible to learn the fundamentals of anything and have fun in the process? Sure, just look at little kids. Their eyes sparkle when shown a new object. They giggle with delight over simple stories. The word fundamental actually begins with fun. Have you ever looked at that word in that way? One definition of fundamental is “relating to the foundation or base, forming or serving as an essential component of a system or structure, or something that is an essential or necessary part of a system or object.” As you were reading that definition, you probably weren’t thinking, Wow, that sounds exciting!

Practicing fundamentals may seem tedious, boring, and laborious. But therein lies one secret to looking and feeling younger: injecting fun into the fundamentals.

Can We Read the Bible, Please?

My kindergartener, Ethan, loves to read his Bible. He comes into my room in the morning asking, “Mommy, can you read me a story from the Bible?” His Bible is written as a children’s storybook with colorful illustrations and animated characters. Whether the story is “David and Goliath” or “Jesus Feeds Thousands,” Ethan’s attention is sharply fixed on each page. After one story has ended, he wants another, then another.

I sometimes wish I had this same kind of hunger and enthusiasm when I approach my Bible. I’d like to read it with fresh eyes like my son’s. Instead of knowing how things turn out, what if I read a story about Jesus and wondered, What’s going to happen? Is Jesus really going to walk on water? How did He do that?

If you’re not careful, Bible study can become a chore, something to check off a “to-do” list and nothing more. Anyone can become numb to the miraculous stories and truths found in God’s Word. After sharing a parable in Mark 7, Jesus says to His closest followers, “Are you so dull?” (Mark 7:18). Even the disciples who walked with Jesus experienced times of spiritual blindness.

Reading the Bible is a fundamental component to living your best life, yet so many people have forgotten the fun—the life—that’s found in studying God’s Word. So how do you put the fun back into the fundamentals of Bible study?

Pray first. Before you begin reading, take a moment to ask God to help you comprehend and apply what you read, that “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-19).

Personalize it. When you read an Old Testament story, put yourself in the picture. What if you instead of Daniel were thrown inside the lion’s den? How would you feel when the morning came and you were still alive? You can also insert your name into a passage: “[Mary] be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Put it into practice. If you love to play basketball, it’s enjoyable to watch a game on television but not nearly as fun as suiting up and playing yourself. Likewise, you can sit on the sidelines, observing the truths found in the Bible. But until you put what you read into practice, you’re not fully realizing the positive power of God’s Word in your life. Take a passage of Scripture and ask God how to apply it to your life.

Here’s a beauty tip that illustrates what reading the Bible will do for you. To give your makeup a firm base, splash your face with cold water before applying makeup. This helps shrink pores temporarily and helps makeup glide on seamlessly.

When you read your Bible, it’s like splashing cold, refreshing water on your face. It cleanses your life of imperfections. It shrinks not your pores but your problems. It gives you fresh energy for the day. When you apply makeup, it helps your outward appearance. But applying God’s Word dramatically improves your inward appearance where true beauty begins.

I may be too old to sit in a first-grade classroom, but I’m young enough at heart to have fun doing the fundamentals, and so are you.

Thought for Rejuvenation

Think back to a time when Bible study was especially meaningful to you. Maybe you were studying a particular book, using a study guide, or looking for answers during a difficult time of life. What were you doing that worked well?

Act of eXpression

Do something today to make your Bible study come alive. Here are a few ideas:

Read the Bible with a notepad. Write your thoughts about a few passages and how they apply to your life.

Pray a few Scriptures out loud, inserting your name when appropriate.

Listen to an audio Bible on CD or your computer.

Take your Bible to a quiet place outside and read in a different environment than usual.

Words by Ginny Yttrup

Tour Date: February 2, 2011

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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!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:


B&H Books (February 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Julie Gwinn, Trade Book Marketing, B&H Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***


Ginny L. Yttrup is an accomplished freelance writer, speaker, and life coach who also ministers to women wounded by sexual trauma. Her blogs include Fiction Creator, My Daily Light, and Crossings Life Coaching. She has two grown sons and lives in California. Words is her first novel.

Visit the author's website.


“I collect words. I keep them in a box in my mind. Whenever I wanted, I’d open the box and pick up the papers, reading and feeling the words all at once. Then I could hide the box. But the words are safer in my mind. There, he can’t take them.”
Ten-year old Kaylee Wren doesn’t speak. Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in a remote cabin nestled in the towering redwoods-in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil. With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary.

Sierra Dawn is thirty-four, an artist, and alone. She has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes and chooses to bury her pain by trying to control her circumstances. But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter’s death, Sierra’s control begins to crumble as the God of her childhood woos her back to Himself.

Brought together by Divine design, Kaylee and Sierra will discover together the healing mercy of the Word—Jesus Christ.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433671700
ISBN-13: 978-1433671708


“In the beginning was the Word.”

John 1:1

“All those things for which we have no words are lost. The mind—the culture—has two little tools, grammar and lexicon: a decorated sand bucket and a matching shovel. With these we bluster about the continents and do all the world’s work. With these we try to save our very lives.”

Annie Dillard

Chapter One


I collect words.

I keep them in a box in my mind. I’d like to keep them in a real box, something pretty, maybe a shoe box covered with flowered wrapping paper. I’d write my words on scraps of paper and then put them in the box. Whenever I wanted, I’d open the box and pick up the papers, reading and feeling the words all at once. Then I could hide the box.

But the words are safer in my mind. There, he can’t take them.

The dictionary is heavy on my lap. I’m on page 1,908. I’m reading through the Ss. When I finish the Zs, I’ll start all over again.


I like that word. It means something extra, something special, something you don’t need. It’s super. But you don’t need super. You just need good enough.

How does it sound when someone says it?

I didn’t really think about how words sound until I stopped talking. I didn’t mean to stop talking, it just sort of happened.

My mom left.

I got scared.

And the words got stuck.

Now I just read the words and then listen for them on the little radio in the kitchen, the only superfluous thing we have.

As I read, my hair falls across my eyes. I push it out of the way, but it falls back. I push it out of the way again, but this time my fingers catch in a tangle. I work for a minute trying to separate the hairs and smooth them down.

When my mom was here, she combed my hair most mornings. Our hair is the same. “Stick straight and dark as soot.” That’s what she used to say.

It hurt when she pulled the comb through my hair. “Kaylee, stop squirming,” she’d tell me. “It’ll pull more if you move.”

Sometimes I’d cry when the comb caught in a knot and she’d get impatient and tell me to stop whining.

Maybe that’s why she left. Maybe she got tired of my whining.

That’s what he says. He tells me she didn’t love me anymore—that she wanted out. But I don’t believe him. I think something happened to her, an accident or something.

She probably has amnesia. I read that word in the dictionary.

That’s when you hit your head so hard on something that you pass out and have to go to the hospital and when you wake up, you don’t remember anything. Not even your name.

Not even that you have a daughter.

I think that’s what happened to my mom. When she remembers, she’ll come back and get me.

So I just wait. I won’t leave. If I leave, she won’t know where to find me.

And when she comes back, I’ll be good. I won’t whine anymore.

I was nine when she left. Now, I’m ten. I’ll be eleven the day after Christmas. I always know it’s near my birthday when they start playing all the bell songs on the radio. I like Silver Bells. I like to think about the city sidewalks and all the people dressed in holiday style. But Jingle Bells is my favorite. Dashing through the snow on a one-horse open sleigh sounds fun.

It’s not near my birthday yet. It’s still warm outside.

As the sun sets, the cabin gets dark inside, too dark to read. He didn’t pay the electric bill, again. I hope he pays it before Christmas or I won’t hear the songs on the radio.

Before I put the dictionary away, I turn to the front page and run my fingers across the writing scribbled there. “Lee and Katherine Wren. Congratulations.

Lee and Katherine are my parents. Were my parents. Are my parents. I’m not sure.

My mom told me that the dictionary was a gift from her Aunt Adele. Mom thought it was kind of a funny wedding gift, but she liked it and kept it even after Lee left. We used it a lot. Sometimes when I’d ask her a question about what something was or what something meant, she’d say, “Go get the dictionary Kaylee, we’ll look it up.” Then she’d show me how to find the word, and we’d read the definition. Most of the time she’d make me sound out the words and read them to her. Only sometimes did she read them to me. But most of the time when I asked her a question, she told me to be quiet. She liked it best when I was quiet.

I miss my mom. But the dictionary makes me feel like part of her is still here. While she’s gone, the dictionary is mine. I have to take care of it. So just like I always do before I put the book away, I ask a silent favor: Please don’t let him notice it. Please don’t let him take it.

I put the dictionary back under the board that makes up a crooked shelf. The splintered wood pricks the tip of one finger as I lift the board and shove the dictionary under. The shelf is supported on one end by two cinderblocks and by one cinderblock and three books on the other end.

I remember the day she set up the shelf. I followed her out the front door and down the steps, and then watched her kneel in the dirt and pull out three concrete blocks she’d found under the steps. She dusted dirt and cobwebs from the cracks and then carried each block inside. She stacked two blocks one on top of the other at one end of the room and then spaced the last block at the other end of the room, under the window.

“Kaylee, hand me a few books from that box. Get big ones.”

I reached into the box and pulled out the biggest book—the dictionary. Then I handed her the other two books. She stacked them on top of the block and then laid a board across the books and blocks.

Even at seven, I knew what she was doing. We’d move in with a boyfriend and Mom would get us “settled” which meant she’d move in our things—our clothes, books, and a few toys for me. She’d rearrange the apartment, or house—or this time, the cabin—and make it “homey.”

After she made the shelf, she lined up our books. Then she placed a vase of wildflowers we’d collected that morning on the end of the shelf. She stood back and looked at what she’d done. Her smile told me she liked it.

The cabin was small, but of all the places we’d lived, I could tell this was her favorite. And this boyfriend seemed nice enough at first, so I hoped maybe we’d stay this time.

We did stay. Or at least I stayed. So now I’m the one arranging the shelf and I’m careful to put it back just as it was. Our books are gone. In their place I return two beer bottles, one with a sharp edge of broken glass, to their dust-free circles on the shelf. I pick up the long-empty bag of Frito Lay corn chips and, before leaning the bag against the broken bottle, I hold it open close to my face and breathe in. The smell of corn and salt make my stomach growl.

Once I’m sure everything looks just as it was on the shelf, I crawl to my mattress in the corner of the room and sit, Indian-style, with my back against the wall and watch the shadows. Light shines between the boards across the broken front window; shadows of leaves and branches move across the walls, ceiling, and door. Above my head I hear a rat or squirrel on the roof. Its movement scatters pine needles and something—a pinecone, I imagine—rolls from the top of the roof, over my head, and then drops into the bed of fallen needles around the front steps.

This is the longest part of the day—when it’s too dark to read.

When I read…

I forget.

That’s how it works.

Once the sun goes down, I don’t leave the cabin. I’m afraid he’ll come back after work and find me gone. He’s told me not to leave because he’d find me and I’d be sorry.

I believe him. believe --verb 1. to take as true, real, etc. 2. to have confidence in a statement or promise of (another person).

My legs go numb under my body and my eyes feel heavy, but I don’t sleep. Sleep isn’t safe. Instead, I close my eyes for just a minute and see flames against the backs of my eyelids. They burn everything my mom and I brought to the cabin.

I remember the hissing and popping as the nighttime drizzle hit the bonfire. And I remember his laughter.

“She’s gone for good, Kaylee. She ain’t comin back.” He cackled like an old witch as he threw more gasoline on the flames.

The smoke filled my nose and stung my lungs as I watched Lamby, the stuffed animal I’d slept with since I was a baby, burn along with most of our clothes and books.

The only exceptions were the three books he hadn’t noticed holding up the shelf. My tears couldn’t put out the fire, and I finally stopped crying. I wiped my nose on my sleeve and stepped away from the blaze. I squared my shoulders and stood as tall as I could. Something changed in me that night. I couldn’t be little anymore. I had to be grown up.

I open my eyes and reach my hand under the corner of the mattress. My fingers dig into the hole in the canvas, feeling for the music box that had been inside Lamby. I’d found it in the ashes the morning after the fire. I tug it free, then wind the key and hold it up to my ear. As the music plays, I remember the words of the song that Grammy taught me just before she died. Jesus loves me, this I know…

The song makes me feel sad.

I don’t think Jesus loves me anymore.

Eventually, I must fall asleep, because I wake up startled—mouth dry, palms damp, and my heart pounding.

I hear the noise that woke me, the crunching of leaves and pine needles. I listen. Are his steps steady, even? No. Two steps. Pause. A dragging sound. Pause. A thud as he stumbles. Pause. Will he get up? Or has he passed out? Please let him be out. A metal taste fills my mouth as I hear him struggle to get back on his feet.

“Kay—leeee?” He slurs. “You up? Lemme in.”

He bangs his fist on the front door, which hasn’t locked or even shut tight since the night he aimed his .22 at the doorknob and blew it to pieces.

The door gives way under the pressure of his fist. As it swings open, he pounds again but misses and falls into the cabin. He goes straight down and hits the floor, head first. A gurgling sound comes from his throat, and I smell the vomit before I see it pooled around his face.

I hope he’ll drown in it.

But he won’t die tonight.

Instead, he heaves himself onto his back and reaches for the split on his forehead where, even in the dark, I can see the blood trickling into his left eye. Then his hand slides down past his ear and drops to the floor. At the sound of his snoring, I exhale. I realize I’ve been holding my breath. Waiting…waiting…waiting.

Chapter Two


Cocooned in crocheted warmth, I slip my hands from beneath the afghan and reach for my journal—a notebook filled with snippets of feelings and phrases. I jot a line: Like shards of glass slivering my soul. I set pen and journal aside and warm my hands around my ritual mug of Earl Gray, considering the phrase. I like the cadence of the alliteration. I see shining slivers piercing an ambiguous soul. I see a canvas layered in hues of red, russet, and black.

A memory calls my name, but I turn away. There will be time for memories later.

I close my eyes against the flame of color igniting the morning sky and allow my body the luxury of relaxing. I breathe deep intentional breaths, exhaling slowly, allowing mind and body to find a like rhythm. With each breath I let go, one by one, the anxieties of the past week.

Prints—signed and numbered. Five hundred in all.

Contract negotiations with two new galleries. Done.

Showing in Carmel last night. Successful.

Mortgage paid. On time for once.

Van Gogh neutered. What did the vet say? “He’s lost his manhood—be gentle with him. He’ll need a few days to recoup.” Good grief.

A whimper interrupts my reverie. The afghan unfurls as I get up and pad across the deck back into the bungalow. Van presses his nose through the cross-hatch door of his crate—his woeful expression speaking volumes. I open the cage and the spry mutt I met at the shelter a few days before staggers toward the deck, tail between his legs. I translate his body language as utter humiliation and feel guilty for my responsible choice.

“Sorry pal, it’s the only way I could spring you from the shelter. They made me do it.” His ears perk and then droop. His salt and pepper coat bristles against my hand, while his ears are cashmere soft. He sighs and drifts back to sleep while I wonder at the wisdom of adopting an animal that’s already getting under my skin. I consider packing him up and taking him back before it’s too late. Instead, I brace myself and concede “Okay, I’ll love you—but just a little.” He twitches in response.

The distant throttle of fishing boats leaving the harbor and the bickering of gulls overhead break the morning silence followed by the ringing of the phone. I smile and reach for the phone lying under my journal.

“Hi, Margaret.” No need to answer with a questioning “Hello?” There’s only one person I know who dares calling at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday.

Laughter sings through the phone line. “Shannon, when are you going to stop calling me Margaret?”

I dubbed her that after the indomitable Margaret Thatcher, prime minister of her homeland. Her unwavering British accent, even after nearly half a century in the United States, and her strength under pressure inspired the nickname. It fits.

“Well, as I’ve told you, I’ll stop calling you Margaret when you stop calling me Shannon. Need I remind you that I haven’t been Shannon in over a decade?”

“Oh, right. Let’s see, what is your name now? Sahara Dust? Sequoia Dew?”

I play along. “Does Sierra Dawn ring a bell?”

“Right, Sierra Dawn, beautiful name. But you’ll always be Shannon Diane to me.”

The smile in her voice chases the shadows from my heart. “Okay, Mother. I mean Margaret.” I pull my knees to my chest and reach for the afghan as I settle back in the weathered Adirondack for our conversation.

“Sierra, I didn’t wake you, did I?”

“Of course not. What is it you say, ‘You can take the girl out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the girl.’”

“That’s my girl. Your daddy’s been out in the fields since 6:00 but he let me sleep. I just got up and thought I’d share a cup of tea with you.”

I do a quick pacific/central time conversion and realize with some alarm that it’s 9:00 a.m. in Texas.

“You slept until 9:00? You never sleep that late. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong, darling, I’m simply getting old. I had to get up three times during the night and by this morning I just wanted to sleep. So I indulged.”

“Well, good for you. I’m glad you called. You know my favorite Saturday mornings are spent with you and Earl.”

“I’m not drinking Earl.”

A startling confession. “You’re not? What are you drinking?”

“Sierra, I’m drinking Lemon Zinger!” Her declaration is followed by a giggle that sounds anything but old.

I stretch my long legs and cross them at the ankles and lean my head against the back of the chair. I feel as though my mother, with gentle skill, has distracted me while she’s worked to remove a few of those slivers imbedded in my soul. But unless I stop brushing up against my splintered history, the slivers will return—or so she tells me.

Just before we hang up, she says, “Shannon—” there’s such tenderness in her voice that I let the slip pass— “are you going to the cemetery today?”

Her question tears open the wound, exposing the underlying infection. I imagine her practicality won’t allow her to leave the wound festering any longer; instead she lances my heart.

I lean forward. “Yes, Mother. You know I will.” My tone is tight, closed. But I can’t seem to help it.

“Darling, it’s time to let go—it’s been twelve years. It’s time to grasp grace and move on.”

The fringe of the afghan I’ve played with as we’ve talked is now twisted tight around my index finger, cutting off the circulation. “What are you saying? That I should just forget—just let go and walk away— never think about it again? You know I can’t do that.”

“Not forget, Sierra— forgive. It’s time.”

“Mother, you know I don’t want to talk about this.”

“Yes, I know. But you need to at least think about it. Think about the truth. Ask yourself what’s true.”

I sigh at my mother’s oft repeated words and grunt my consent before I hang up— or “ring off” as she would say.

I left Texas at eighteen and headed to California, sure that was where I’d “find myself.” On the day I left, my daddy stood at the driver’s door of my overstuffed used station wagon gazing at the hundreds of acres of soil he’d readied for planting in the fall and gave me what I think of now as my own “Great Commission.” In the vernacular of the Bible Belt, my daddy, a farmer with the soul of a poet, sent me out into the world with a purpose.

“Honey, do you know why I farm?”

At eighteen I’d never considered the “why” of what my parents did. “No, Daddy. Why?”

“Farming’s not something that can be done alone. I till the ground, plant the seeds, and irrigate. But it’s the rising and setting of the sun and the changing of the seasons that cause the grain to grow. Farming is a partnership with the Creator. Each year when I reap the harvest, I marvel at a Creator who allows me the honor of co-creating with him.”

He’d stopped staring at the fields and instead looked straight at me. “Look for what the Creator wants you to do, Shannon. He wants to share his creativity with you. He wants to partner with you. You find what he wants you to do.”

With that, he planted a kiss on my forehead and shut the door of my car. With my daddy’s commission tucked in my heart, I left in search of my life. My older brother, Jeff, was already in California completing his final year in the agricultural school at Cal-Poly in San Luis Obispo. Tired of dorm life, Jeff and two friends rented a house in town and told me I could rent a room from them for the year. I was thrilled.

Our neighbors and Mother and Daddy’s friends couldn’t understand why they’d let me “run off” to California. In their minds, California was a dark place where drugs and sex ruled. But Daddy assured them California was not the Sodom and Gomorrah they imagined. He should know. His roots were in California. He was born and raised there. Jeff and I grew up hearing about the Golden State and were determined we’d see it for ourselves one day. College in California seemed a logical choice to both of us.

As I headed west, I thought of my parents and what I’d learned from each of them through the years. Daddy taught me to see. Where others in our community saw grain, Daddy saw God. He always encouraged me in his quiet and simple way to look beyond the obvious. “Look beyond a person’s actions and see their heart. Look for what’s causing them to act the way they act, then you’ll understand them better.”

When I was about twelve, Mother and Daddy took us with them down to Galveston for a week. Daddy was there for an American Farm Bureau meeting. After the meeting, we stayed for a few rare days of vacation. I remember standing on the beach and looking out at the flat sea, Daddy pulled me close and pointed at the surf and asked, “What do you see?”

“The ocean?” I asked it more than stated.

“Yes, but there’s more. You’re seeing God’s power.”

I must have seemed unimpressed because Daddy laughed. “It’s there Shan, someday you’ll see it. But, I’ll admit it’s easier to see it in the crashing surf and jagged cliffs of the California coastline.”

I didn’t understand what he meant then—and I’m still not sure I fully understand—but back then my daddy’s description of the California coastline followed me as I was off to see it for myself.

My mother taught me to look for something else. “What’s the truth, Shannon?” she’d ask over and over, challenging me to choose what was right. She taught me to analyze a situation and then make a decision that represented the truth foundational to our family.

Most often the truth she spoke of was found in the big family Bible she’d brought with her from England. She’d lay the book out on the kitchen table and open it to the book of John in the New Testament and she’d read from the King James version: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

“There’s freedom in the truth, Shannon. You remember that,” she’d say.

Again, I’m only now beginning to understand what she meant. But these were the lessons from home that I carried with me to California.

So why hadn’t I applied those lessons? Why I had I wandered so far from my parents’ truth?

Those are questions I’d ask myself many times over. I’d yet to find the answers.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell

Tour Date: February 1, 2010

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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!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Strange Man

Realms (February 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***


Greg Mitchell likes monsters. So much, in fact, he has written this trilogy about a small town learning to take a stand on faith and challenge the dark forces creeping in. Greg is a Christian who believes that the Bible is 100 percent true, and he does his best to live his life according to its principles and write things that help teach others about Jesus Christ. Back in 2001, he co-wrote the novel Time Changer, published by White Harvest Books, with his friend and Christian filmmaker, Rich Christiano. In 2002, Time Changer was made into a theatrically released motion picture, and it is now available on DVD. Greg lives with his wife and daughter in Paragould, Arkansas.

Visit the author's website.


Dras Weldon is a twenty-two-year-old unemployed washout. He lives in a world populated by horror movies and comic books, content to hide in the shadow of adolescence. Under the scrutinizing eye of his older brother, Jeff, a pastor, Dras lives a life of professed Christianity with very little observable spirituality. He must change. However, when a demon known only as “the Strange Man” comes to his small town of Greensboro and threatens Dras’s best friend, Rosalyn Myers, Dras discovers that only by putting his faith into action can he save his friend from danger. Suddenly he is thrust into a race against the clock and forced to battle demonic forces in an effort to convince Rosalyn to accept Christ and turn away from the coming evil.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381949
ISBN-13: 978-1616381943


Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Purpose and Power of Authority: Discovering the Power of Your Personal Domain by Dr. Myles Munroe

Tour Date: January 31, 2011

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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!

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and the book:

The Purpose and Power of Authority: Discovering the Power of Your Personal Domain

Whitaker House (January 4, 2011)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***


Dr. Myles Munroe is a best-selling author, founder and president of Bahamas Faith Ministries International, a motivational speaker, and consultant for government and business. He has spent the last thirty years training leaders worldwide in business, education, government and religion. Dr. Munroe completed undergraduate and postgraduate studies at Oral Roberts University and the University of Tulsa. He is the recipient of honorary doctoral degrees from a variety of schools and serves as an adjunct professor of the Graduate School of Theology at Oral Roberts University. Dr. Munroe and his wife Ruth are the parents of two grown children and travel as a teaching team.

Visit the author's website.


Are you walking in your unique calling? Do you know that you have an inherent, personal authority that is meant to guide your life? In his new book, best-selling author Dr. Myles Munroe explains that many people don’t know how to live out their dreams or find their place in the world because they don’t understand the principle of true authority. Until one discovers his or her unique, God-given areas of authority and responsibilities, he or she may spend a lifetime feeling unfulfilled or lost. Discovering one’s personal authority is the key to fulfillment and effective living, Dr. Munroe maintains. He explains not only how to discover one’s inherent authority, but to how to respond constructively to others with confidence, free of fear and intimidation. Dr. Munroe has said that he feels this book contains his most significant teaching to date.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 160374262X
ISBN-13: 978-1603742627


What Is Authority?

Chapter One

Authority Is Within You

You Have Personal Authority and Power to Fulfill Your Purpose in Life

Neither the judges nor the audience expected anything from the plain-looking, middle-aged, unemployed woman from Scotland who was a contestant on the reality television show Britain’s Got Talent in the spring of 2009. When asked what her dream was, Susan Boyle answered, “I’m trying to be a professional singer.” As she talked with the judges before her performance, they were openly skeptical, and many of the audience members rolled their eyes and shook their heads incredulously, perhaps thinking this contestant had been included for a comic element by the producers of the show. When the introductory notes of her song started to play—“I Dreamed a Dream,” from the musical Les Miserables—some audience members even looked as if they were anxiously holding their breaths, afraid that this unassuming, naive woman would humiliate herself before millions of people.

Then, she began to sing.

With lyrical tones, compelling emotion, and a professional delivery, she sang the song as if she had written it herself to describe her unfulfilled life up to that point and her hopes for the future. Most of the audience members were clapping, cheering, and standing when she had sung just a few lines, and she received a resounding standing ovation at the conclusion of her performance. In minutes, she went from being perceived as a joke to being considered an inspiration and a role model for all who are seeking a second chance in life, or for all who want a first chance to manifest to the world who they are on the inside.

Susan Boyle became an international phenomenon overnight through her television appearance, the popularity of the tape of her performance on YouTube, and the overwhelming attention of the media. People were captivated by her voice and moved by her story of decades of struggling and longing to make something of her life.

Though her instantaneous rise to fame has caused inevitable stress for her along the way, she seems to have come to terms with the crush of attention. After finishing the contest in second place, she went on to build the professional singing career she had always dreamed of. Her debut CD, I Dreamed a Dream, has sold over eight million units worldwide as of this writing. The apex of her dream came to pass when, during the historic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to England and Scotland in September 2010, she was chosen to sing for the Pontiff at the conclusion of his open-air mass in Glasgow, which was attended by 65,000 people.

What does authority have to do with a television performance or even a singer? Doesn’t authority have to do with exercising some jurisdiction or control over other people? Doesn’t it involve, for example, leaders and followers, bosses and employees, parents and children, teachers and students, law enforcement officers and lawbreakers—in other words, those in charge and those under them who are instructed, directed, ordered, or made to do something?

Every Person on Earth Has Authority

There is an underlying aspect of authority that has not often been acknowledged or addressed by leaders, corporations, governments, and individuals but that is crucial for effective and fulfilling human endeavor. It provides the key not only for individual accomplishment but also for corporate success.

Susan Boyle’s story illustrates the essence of authority, as well as the heart of this book: true authority is personal, and true authority comes from within.

Authority does not mean having power or control over others.

Authority is not something you automatically receive with a title, either, such as “manager,” “boss,” “CEO,” or “president.”

Personal authority is inherent within every human being, whether that person is considered the one “in charge” or the one following orders. Authority is also inherent within every living thing created on earth. It is natural. It does not have to be “worked up,” and it cannot be given to someone—only released and developed.

Personal authority can be defined as the intrinsic gifts a person or thing possesses in order to fulfill the purpose for which that person or thing was placed on this earth. Because authority is intrinsic, every person or living thing already has the ability to fulfill his/her/its authority in the area, or the domain, of his/her/its gifting.

You have a personal authority that enables you to fulfill your purpose on earth. Have you identified your own personal authority? If you believe you have, are you functioning in it to the fullest extent that you would like to and that you are able to?

Four Foundational Principles for Understanding Authority

In this book, you will discover how to apply four foundational principles for understanding authority and entering into the power of your personal domain:

1. The Principle of the Author: The release of your personal authority is linked to the origin of your gifts and power, by which you can fully carry out your life’s purpose through your personal domain. Once you discover the true source of the authority that is inherent within you, opportunities for experiencing fulfillment and for contributing your unique gifts to the world will open wide.

2.The Principle of Authorization: You not only have personal authority within you, but you also have the permission and the right to carry it out in the world. No matter what your past experiences have been, or no matter what restrictions you have previously felt, you have the authorization you need to start fulfilling your life’s purpose. You’ll discover the key to that authorization in coming chapters.

3.The Principle of Authenticity: No person is truly authentic until he is manifesting his inherent authority. Once you understand and become your true self—who you were born to be—your life takes on authenticity. In other words, you are real, or authentic, while you are being who you were meant to be and doing what you were meant to do. In the following pages, you will learn how to identify and develop your authentic self.

4.The Principle of Authority: The above three principles lead to this fourth and foremost principle of authority, which is twofold. First, everyone and everything is designed to fulfill its purpose. Because your authority is inherent, you are automatically equipped to be what you have been authorized to be and to do what you have been authorized to do. You have been designed to fulfill your life’s purpose. Your personal authority guides the focus of your life and enables you to accomplish what you were born to accomplish. Second, everything depends on and must yield to something else in order to function, grow, prosper, and succeed. As you read this book, you will increasingly see how you can tap into your unique design and begin to apply it to the various aspects of your life. Your personal authority will emerge, and you will be able to live an effective life as you work in collaboration with others to fulfill each other’s purposes.

Authority Is Personal but Not Exclusive

Because authority is in essence personal, some people make the mistake of thinking that it is therefore exclusive to them and has nothing to do with others. They may think, I’m following my personal authority, so don’t get in my way. Or, they may tend to pursue their unique gifts and abilities only for what they can get out of them. Yet that perspective does not reflect the nature of personal authority, which is designed to operate in concert with other people and for the benefit of others, as well.

Since authority is within every person, and since humans are social beings who interact in social institutions, what happens when my authority meets your authority in the family, in the government, in the church, in the business world, and in other relationships and realms of human interaction? Authority works in such a way that people’s personal authorities are interrelated and function interdependently in corporate life. This isn’t just an observation but a vital principle: we need each other’s authority to fulfill our own.

Personal authority is carried out in the context of many realms of life and in association with a variety of human interactions and organizations. It operates in conjunction with collective human endeavors, such as we experience in families, communities, governments, churches, nonprofit organizations, schools, small businesses, and large corporations.

Yet none of these relationships and endeavors can truly thrive and be successful unless each individual associated with them understands his personal authority and is operating under it. Personal authority empowers each person to contribute his greatest gifts and skills for his own fulfillment and for the benefit of the whole community—no matter how large or small that community may be.

What Is Your Dream?

What is your dream for yourself, your family, your business, your organization, or your nation? Many people don’t know how to live out their dreams or find their true place in the world because they don’t understand how to put into practice the above principles of authority. You may have some idea of your personal authority but are not fulfilling the vast potential still inside you; you recognize that you are living well below your abilities.

What is true on a personal level is also true on a corporate level. Most of our corporate, community, and national problems come from the fact that people do not truly understand or live in their personal authorities or function in the interdependent nature of authority, which occurs when people blend their gifts to work together for the good of the whole.

Three Keys to Activating Personal Authority

In Susan Boyle’s case, her potential to inspire and entertain people through her inherent gift of music had been limited through a series of setbacks, not the least of which was early rejection by her peers, and the low self-esteem that resulted. Apparently, as she grew older, even though she sang locally, she increasingly had a sense that life was passing her by.

What led to the change in her circumstances?

First, she was aware of her inherent, inner authority—her tremendous singing ability—and had not let that talent fall by the wayside but had tried to develop it as best she could. Personal authority is dependent upon your truly knowing yourself, knowing the authority inside you. It is impossible to exercise your authority if you do not know yourself.

Second, although circumstances in her life had prevented her from having a professional singing career in the past (she had even sent demo CDs to music companies, without success), Susan tried one more time. She made a conscious decision to act on her inherent authority. In fact, she had promised her mother, who had passed away, that she would “be someone.” Her success at “being someone” was not initiated by the fame and acclaim she received but because she exercised her inherent authority—who she was gifted to be—and the world took notice. When she employed her authority, she discovered the very real power of her personal domain.

Third, even though it was outside of her “comfort zone,” she submitted to placing herself in a situation where others could recognize her personal authority and enable her to pursue and develop it to the highest extent. Once she was willing to let that happen, her obvious talent commanded attention. The discovery of Susan Boyle’s outstanding musical gift serves as an excellent example of the nature of one’s personal authority and its interdependence with the personal authority of others. Please note carefully that I did not say her gift was created but rather “discovered.” The Britain’s Got Talent television show did not give authority to her singing gift but simply provided the stage for the release of her authority. In essence, she had always possessed the authority of her gift in the domain of singing, but she needed an audience and an opportunity to serve it to the world. Yet she almost didn’t try to be a contestant on the television program because she thought she was too old to pursue her dream. You are never too old or too young or too poor or too rich or too anything to pursue your inherent authority. What is natural within you will manifest itself if you allow it to.

Your Personal Domain

King Solomon, one of the wisest people who ever lived, wrote, “A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great” (Proverbs 18:16), and “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings” (Proverbs 22:29). Susan Boyle’s gift made a way for her—it brought her before influential people who opened doors that enabled her to fulfill the inner dreams and longings she had held all her life. Although she had already exercised her gift in various ways in her local community, there was an even greater realm in which she was meant to share it.

Your authority also has a domain in which it is to be exercised. The size or scope of that domain, and whether you become “well-known” is not the issue. The issue is whether you will recognize what is inherent within you and exercise your gift for yourself and others. Your authority is your unique leadership ability in the world.

Many people allow their true authority to remain untapped. They have neither discovered nor pursued their special ability to contribute to their generation. Whether one is genuinely operating in one’s gifts is not necessarily measured by outward success. Both a multimillionaire businessman and a single mother struggling to make ends meet can still have hidden, untapped authority that, once released and manifested, will bring something of tremendous value to their lives and the lives of others.

The only way you can exercise true authority is to recognize and start functioning in the power of your personal domain.

Counterfeit and Authentic Pursuits

When people violate the principles of authority, it is usually because they don’t have a foundational understanding of what genuine authority really is. Many individuals who have great gifts, talents, dreams, and promise have destroyed their futures by failing to implement these principles.

For example, many people pursue prosperity or fame for their own sakes, but these pursuits are not authentic. Instead, people should be pursuing their inner authority. They will discover that when they do so, prosperity will come toward them. Our prosperity is found where our authority is.

True authority is the right and the power to be who you were created to be. You can be a more effective parent, carpenter, hairdresser, entrepreneur, CEO, teacher, student, pastor, government official, or any other role or calling—you can be a more effective person—if you discover your true authority and understand and live out its principles.

If you have already discovered your personal authority and are pursuing it, you can be even more effective in it by applying the principles of authority delineated in this book. You can discover how they operate and what they can do in your life and vocation as you interact with theirs in various realms of life and learn how to blend your personal authority with others’ for greater results. You’ll also learn the origins of your personal authority, why authority works, how authority works, and how to implement it.

If the concept of personal authority is new to you, or if you have been frustrated because you know you have something to contribute to your generation but don’t feel you have been exercising your personal authority and want to be effective in it, you will find the tools you need in this book. Everyone can exercise authority because authority is within each of us.

Why Many People Are Afraid of Authority

Although everyone has personal authority, and although all the major realms of human interaction involve the use of authority, personal authority is still one of the most misunderstood principles in human relations.

Because of this, most people I meet are afraid of authority to some degree. You may be one of them. You may have picked up this book with some measure of apprehension. That is understandable, considering the way authority has been modeled for many of us. Most people misunderstand authority because they have never seen it in its true form. Authority has been misconceived, misdefined, misrepresented, and misused. We’re afraid of it because we don’t understand its nature and purposes. As a result, it is seen as a negative element rather than a positive one.

You may have had a bad experience with a parent, a teacher, an employer, or another “authority figure.” You may be a woman or a member of a race or community who has been told you are inferior and who has been prevented from developing your abilities to the fullest. Perhaps you have been a victim of oppression in which religious authority was used to control your life or, even worse, a religious authority figure took advantage of your trust and mentally or physically abused you. If that is the case, your distrust, fear, and hatred of authority are understandable. Or, you may be among those who believe that only people who have a certain title or a type A personality or who reach a certain “level” in life can have authority.

Authority as an aspect of life has been misunderstood and misused to the point that it has often become the opposite of what it was meant to be. Yet you will discover in this book that the nature of genuine authority is the antithesis of suppression and oppression and is actually the source of true freedom and fulfillment.

In the next chapter, we’ll explore some of the distorted and restricted views of authority that people have accepted, and the misconceptions they breed, which have brought us to what I believe is an actual crisis in authority. In every country of the world, people misunderstand, misuse, or abuse authority. As a result, we have too much of the wrong kind of authority and too little of the right kind of authority. Our failure to understand authority has led to a decreasing quality in people’s lives and a lack of true order, peace, and progress in societies and cultures of the world.

What Are You Authorized to Do?

Authority is therefore the key to fulfillment and effective living, the means to proper function in life, and the guarantor of success. Authority is the law of maximum performance. It is also the means of powerful, positive influence in other people’s lives. If authority is all of these things, then is it imperative that we all understand this critical concept? Obviously, yes.

Unless you know what you’re authorized to do in life, you will always experience some degree of dissatisfaction, uncertainty, frustration, and perhaps even anger in regard to your circumstances. Yet, you have the opportunity, responsibility, and ability to develop your own personal authority and carry out your unique purpose in life in conjunction with others.

You are uniquely designed for what you were born to do through your gifts, abilities, and personality. No matter what other people may have told you in the past about your potential, you can release the principles, power, and protection of authority into your life.

Each of the following chapters is designed so that, as you proceed through this book, you will gain a more complete picture of true authority and the many applications of authority to your life that will free you to be all you were meant to be. You’ll learn about the basic realms of authority and how to live fruitfully in each.

Through The Purpose and Power of Authority, you will come to…

recognize what true authority is—and what it is not
understand your own personal, inherent authority
discover how to identify the “territory” or area of life you are authorized to
learn the origins of true authority
gain order, simplicity, and peace in your life
respond constructively to others in their own realms of authority
exercise your intrinsic power and gifting
lead others into their own personal authority
live confidently and purposefully
be true to your life calling
maximize your gifts, talents, and skills
find true prosperity
work with joy
Susan Boyle determined to do something with her life after years of disappointment and therefore exercised the authority within her. “I made a promise to be someone,” she said. I want you to make that same promise to be someone. That “someone” is your true self manifested to the world. Susan Boyle not only has used her authority, but she is an authority. True authority is self-manifestation.

In the next few chapters, we will look at some foundational principles of authority that are an essential background for understanding and implementing your personal authority.