Friday, December 23, 2011

The Little Drummer Boy Review!

The Little Drummer Boy is the newest VeggieTales DVD installment. VeggieTales always puts out the funnest and most amazing Christmas DVDs. Of course, VeggieTales episodes are fun and amazing in general. But they just keep getting better and better each DVD they put out.

The theme song is always a favorite of mine and has been since I first watched VeggieTales. I was pretty disappointed, though, that in some of the recent DVDs they don't play the whole theme song. But many shows have done that and it's a little thing in comparison to all the awesome things that the shows are full of.

The Little Drummer Boy stars Junior Asparagus, who I really love by the way. He has always been one of my favorite characters. He's just too cute for words. Most if not all people know about the little drummer boy. It's just such a classic song, so putting it to video is pretty amazing. One of my favorite parts of this DVD is how in the story portion they have two French peas named “May” and “Wee” - that was so clever to me. Another great part is the animals in the story - sheep, donkey and camel – that ended up doing a little dance in the movie which was so cute to me.

Now Junior is really getting into drumming, so when Pa Grape tells him a Christmas story, he picks the perfectly fitting story of Aaron as a drummer. It's such a great way to show kids the story of baby Jesus. It's not totally all about the Christmas story, but it shows a different perspective of someone who didn't know anything about Jesus being born and suddenly coming across him from somewhere else. It's a great story for sure.

The silly song portion of the movie was fun to watch for sure. I knew about the 8 Polish Foods of Christmas song before. Seeing that come to video was super amusing.

They also have a CD titled “O Holy Night” which is pretty much a soundtrack for the movie. It has some great Christmas songs. I love the version of “The Little Drummer Boy” by BeBe & CeCe Winans especially. It sounds great. It also has several of the songs from the DVD on it. They make a great addition to my Christmas playlist.

Thank you to Big Idea for providing me a copy of the DVD and CD for review!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

the winner is..

mommy2one126 ! please check your email and reply asap!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A giveaway!!!

hello all!

i am hosting a giveaway for this:

With the vibrant illustrations and engaging text in this Bible storybook, you can enjoy sharing the best-loved stories of the Bible with the children in your life and encourage a life-long love for the Word of God. My Favorite Bible is a book of exciting Bible stories and activity pages that guide children through the foundational truths of Scripture.

Each story is fully illustrated and includes a simple narrative full of things kids love: repetition, rhythm, and energy, along with a key biblical theme, a key Bible verse, and discussion questions to help adults introduce children to the Bible.

The colorful illustrations will capture the imaginations of children ages 4–8, and the stories will help adults to pass along the most important truth in life—the Gospel. Families will cherish this time as they read, listen, learn, and love, growing closer to one another even as they grow closer to God.

to enter just leave a comment below with your email address! the giveaway will end on December 15th! good luck to everyone!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Television producer Ava Ellington cannot refuse her grandfather's last wish--that she accompany him to Europe on a tour of World War II battle sites. Ava has little interest in historical battles, but this may be her last chance to break down the barriers that have grown up between them, and she sets off, camera in hand, ready to record and report on their journey. She and Grandpa Jack are greeted in Paris by Paul, her grandpa's best friend, and his grandson Dennis. The Dennis who just happens to be Ava's first love. History comes alive as the group travels across Europe--from the romantic sights of Paris to the bleak battlefields of Belgium to the Austrian labor camp these men liberated so many years before--and Ava sees a side of her grandfather she's never known before. As he shares his memories of those bitter days on the battlefield, she begins to understand how his experiences in the war made him the man he is today. Throughout the journey, Ava and Dennis are drawn together in ways neither of them expected. Can their memories of the past lead to a bright new future?

My thoughts on “remembering you” by Tricia Goyer are, it was really amazing honestly. Most times you read things about the war and its just really boring to be perfectly honest. And I had very little hope that I would finish the book. I went in thinking I’d only read a few chapters and that would be it. And that is not how it went at all. I got sucked into the story and suddenly some war stories weren't boring at all. And neither was this book. Its so packed and has some shocking moments in it. It was a really great read.

Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her novel, Remembering You, with a KINDLE Touch Giveaway for you ... and for the friend of your choice. Then on 11/29 she'll be wrapping up the release of Remembering You with a Book Chat Party!

During the first half of the party Tricia will be chatting, sharing a sneak peek of her next book, and giving away a ton of great stuff. Then she'll head over to her website for a Live Chat! Readers will be able to chat with Tricia via video or text.

Don't miss your chance to win a Kindle Touch for yourself ... and to "remember" a friend this holiday with a Kindle Touch for them!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Kindle Touch and a Kindle Touch for a Friend (winner's choice!) 
  • A copy of Remembering You by Tricia Goyer for each
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on November 29th. Winner will be announced at Remembering You Facebook Party on 11/29. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away copies of her other WWII books and gift certificates to Starbucks and So grab your copy of Remembering You and join Tricia on the evening of the 29th for an author chat, a trivia contest (How much do you know about WWII?) and lots of giveaways.
Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 15th!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

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:

Africa Publishing Company (September 28, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


After serving as chaplain at Camp Hope during the 2010 mine collapse that trapped 33 miners a half-mile underground for 69 days, minister Carlos Parra Diaz believes he is now living the answer to a prayer. Today he finds himself exactly where he asked to be placed several months before the collapse when he climbed atop a hill near his home and prayed God would use him to bring awareness of Jesus to all nations.

Believing it was God’s hand that placed him in Camp Hope and gratified to be given the privilege of participating, Parra admits his life will never be the same because of the experience. He further acknowledges that what happened at the San José Mine “offers unequivocal testimony that, in this 21st century, faith still does move mountains.”

Today, Pastor Parra, his wife Gloria and their two children live in Asunción, Paraguay, where he serves as regional pastor and missionary. In addition, he continues to share his experience with others throughout the world, diligently seeking every opportunity to spread the message of the San José Mine: that our God is a God of Love.

Visit the author's website.


For several suspenseful hours on October 13, 2010, the attention of the entire world lay centered on a solitary spot in the Chilean desert. It was there that 33 trapped miners emerged to fresh air and freedom and the eager embrace of jubilant family and friends, after having spent ten weeks entombed one-half mile underground. Their emergence brought an end to the greatest mine rescue of all time.

As told to writers Mario Veloso and Jeanette Windle, Hope Underground: The 34 Chilean Miners—A Story of Faith and Miracles (Imago Dei Books) records the personal journey and spiritual involvement of a local, unassuming minister with the miners and their families. In a series of circumstances that would change his life forever, Pastor Carlos Parra Diaz rose to prominence as he became the influential chaplain of Camp Hope—a makeshift tent community established not far from the site of the mine collapse.

Yet Hope Underground is clearly more than just Pastor Parra’s story. Rather, it is the story of all who came together at Camp Hope focused on asking God to do a mighty work on behalf of the miners and the overwhelming evidence of His response that followed. Told simply and from the heart, Pastor Parra describes not only his own involvement with the families at Camp Hope but also introduces the reader to those miners, family members and officials who extracted nuggets of hope from the situation and then used them to instill faith in others.

For most people, this spectacular rescue is already yesterday’s news. However, for the millions who prayed for a miracle, this event has become a spiritual heritage for the whole world, a stirring reminder that God listens to the pleas of His children.
Readers are introduced to women like Maria Segovia, the “mayor” of Camp Hope, whose quiet strength and steadfast faith daily encouraged others. We meet the miner whose wife gave birth to their first child during the ten-week ordeal—a daughter they named Esperanza (which means Hope). And no reader will soon forget the youngest miner who boldly insisted there were 34 in the mine instead of 33 because, as he explained, “God never abandoned us.”

Though on its own, the story of his involvement would provide fascinating reading, what Pastor Parra gives us in Hope Underground is so much more. With humility and reverence, he leads us through the story of Camp Hope to a new realization that God remains a never failing presence to everyone willing to call upon His name.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Africa Publishing Company (September 28, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0986979953
ISBN-13: 978-0986979958


The Journey Begins

My own journey of faith did not begin August 5, 2010, on the dusty slopes of San José Mine, but almost forty-three years earlier and far to the south. I was born Carlos Roberto Parra Díaz on September 15, 1967, in the small, rural community of Coelemu, located 500 kilometers south of Chile’s capital city, Santiago. In complete contrast to the Atacama Desert where I would one day find myself, Coelemu is a richly fertile region of rolling hills, eucalyptus forests, green pastures and cultivated fields, fruit orchards, and grape vineyards. Nearby winds the placid waterway of the Itata River.
The family into which I was born was of modest means. My father, Luis Parra, worked at many types of manual labor within the lumber industry, the region’s primary export. My mother, Ester, stayed busy running our household and rearing nine children, of whom I was one of the youngest. We lived in a small house built of wood that faced onto an unpaved dirt lane. If cramped for such a large family, we could always retreat outside to a sizable patio filled with fruit trees and a grape arbor. There my siblings and I played, climbing trees, running among the grapevines, driving tiny model cars in the dirt.

My parents were devout Christians, and from my earliest childhood I attended a local evangelical church where I grew up hearing Bible stories and singing hymns and choruses. Our small town was privileged to have both a primary and a secondary school, where my siblings and I attended. The flow of life in Coelemu was unhurried and serene.

Yet I was not always happy. As one of the youngest in a large family, I constantly battled low self-esteem. I had been taught the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. I believed in the existence and power of a Creator God. But I had never placed my own faith in Jesus Christ or made any personal commitment to follow my Creator.

When I graduated from secondary school at age seventeen, there were no funds available for further education. In fact, no one in my family had ever gone on to university. I had done well in school and dreamed of a higher education. But without the necessary funds, I headed instead to the nearest city to look for work.

Seventy kilometers south of Coelemu, Concepción is Chile’s second largest metropolitan center with a population of almost a million people. One of my older brothers, Claudio, had already moved there. Boarding in his home, I quickly found a job. I worked hard, sending part of my earnings home to help my parents, saving what I could in hopes I might be able to study again someday. I made friends.

But I soon also turned my back on the Christian upbringing my parents had provided for me. The big city was filled with temptations for a young man out on his own for the first time. When I was not working, my days soon became a round of parties, dances, and other entertainments of which my parents would certainly not have approved. Church attendance was something of the past.

Once a month or so, I would travel home. My parents had no idea how my life had changed. They were simply happy their son had found work and was building a future for himself. In contrast, despite all the excitement of city life, I was not happy at all. By age nineteen, I had fallen into a deep depression. While I could point to nothing specifically wrong, my life seemed to be spiraling out of my control. I began to question whether God even existed. My self-esteem had hit rock bottom. I had a job, friends, and all my needs supplied. But there seemed no purpose to my existence, no reason to keep living.

By a certain evening when I was nineteen years old, I had come to a drastic decision: I would take my own life. I’d gone out that evening to party with one of my friends. But I could not make myself enjoy the festivities. Offering an excuse to leave my friend, I headed toward the railroad tracks cutting through that part of the city, thinking to throw myself in front of a passing train.

That particular night was clear of clouds, the stars bright against a black sky. It had been a long time since I’d thought of the God in whom my parents had raised me to believe, the Almighty Creator of the Universe. But as I lifted my eyes to that star-strewn sky, it was as though I glimpsed in the soft glitter of the constellations far above me a peace that I had not been able to find anywhere below on earth—a peace so vast and breathtaking, it brought sharply to my mind the presence of the God I’d learned of as a child, His pardon, His peace.

In desperation, I cried out in the direction of those stars, “God, if you are really there, please forgive my sins, and give me another chance to live.”
The answer that came was not thunder from heaven, but I heard its words as audibly as though spoken aloud. “Carlos, I will give you another opportunity to live. But you must live that life for me.”

I dropped my gaze from the glittering expanse of the night sky. But the moment I started looking at the darkness all around, despair once again overwhelmed me. I now know that this was a direct attack from Satan. You are worthless, he was murmuring in my mind. You would be better off taking your own life.
But the God who had created those constellations and spoken to me from heaven did not abandon me now. Before I could make any rash move, the friend I’d walked out on came rushing up. Somehow he’d sensed my earlier desperation. Worried, he’d been looking for me in all the places we usually hung out. He insisted on escorting me home to my brother’s house.
By now it was late at night. My brother Claudio let me in and told me to go to bed. We’d talk in the morning. Still battling despair, I went to my room. There I spotted a New Testament lying on a shelf. I couldn’t sleep, so I picked up the New Testament and began leafing through its pages. I don’t even remember what passages I read. But in those pages, I caught a glimpse of the same supernatural peace that I’d sensed in the stars. It was as though God was speaking to me again, giving me a direct confirmation that the earlier conversation we’d had was real and that He had forgiven all the wrong things I’d done over those last two years.
Going to bed at last, I slept like a small child, without stirring. When I awoke the next morning, I knew I was a new person, born again. From that day, I committed myself to follow God with all my heart.

“Almighty God, as I asked, You have given me a new chance to live,” I prayed. “Now I surrender my life to do Your will. Guide me wherever it is that You want me to serve. Let me live to exalt Your name among all nations.”
My next step was to find a local church where I could once again hear and study God’s Word. Locating one some distance away within the city of Concepción, I attended there for the next year or so. Then new neighbors moved next door to my brother Claudio’s house where I was still living. They were Seventh-day Adventist missionaries, a denomination I had never heard of at that time. They were friendly and kind. Within a short time, they’d volunteered to teach a Bible study in our neighborhood, which I began attending with my sister-in-law, Claudio’s wife. After three months of intensive Bible study, both of us made the decision to be baptized as a witness of our faith. On June 24, 1989, I surrendered my life in baptism. I was twenty-one years old.

From the moment I’d placed my faith in God, I’d committed my life to serve God. But I had no thoughts at that time of ever becoming a pastor or missionary. By then I’d found a good job as an administrative aide in a bank. But I still dreamed of one day getting a higher education. Then our neighbors told me about the Adventist University in nearby Chillán, a city about a hundred kilometers east of Coelemu.
“But I have no funds for university study,” I immediately responded.
That didn’t matter, the missionaries informed me. Then they explained to me the Adventist University’s unique system of self financing. Students could work one year for the university and then attend free the next year, alternating work and study years until they’d achieved their chosen degree. With great excitement, I enrolled, planning to study accounting, a career that would allow me not only to provide for myself, but to help my family. But by the end of my first year working for the university, God had made it clear that He was calling me into full-time ministry. When I finally started my university studies in 1991, it was in the field of theology rather than accounting.

For the next seven years, I alternated between working and studying. My employment for the university was as a colporteur, distributing and selling Christian literature door to door all over the city as well as in surrounding towns and villages. God had now made clear His calling on my life. But I did not want to follow that calling alone. I began to pray that God would bring into my life the marriage partner He had for me. For five years I prayed, not only that God would prepare the right wife for me, but that He would prepare me as a godly husband for that wife.

Then in my third year of studies, I found myself in Santiago, the capital city of Chile. Part of the course requirements for third year theology students was to conduct an evangelistic campaign. Among the volunteers helping at the church where I’d been assigned to preach was an attractive young woman named Gloria Angélica Montoya. From a third-generation Christian home, Gloria was a committed Christian herself, deeply involved in children’s and youth ministry within her church. She also worked full-time as a nursing assistant at a local psychiatric clinic.

The following year was one of those in which I was not studying. I stayed on in Santiago, working in the literature ministry and also getting to know Gloria better. It was not long before we both recognized how much we’d come to love each other. Both of us had complete peace that God was calling us together as life partners.

Gloria and I were married in the summer of 1996. We returned from Santiago to Chillán for my last year of theological studies. I graduated in 1998 and spent the next year doing a ministry apprenticeship in Concepción. Then Gloria and I returned to Santiago, where for the next five years I served as pastor and missionary overseeing a group of churches in the Santiago metropolitan area. By this time God had given Gloria and me two beautiful children: my son Carlos Malaquías (Malachi), who at the time of this book’s writing is thirteen years old, and my daughter Belén, who is now ten.

In 2003, we moved again as a family to Chile’s beautiful Viña del Mar region, famous for its vineyards and beaches. Once again, I served as pastor and missionary to a group of churches scattered around the area. Traveling from one to another, I would preach God’s Word, teach and counsel church members, and spearhead evangelistic outreach into each community.
It was 2009 when I was asked if I would move from the Viña del Mar region to serve as an area coordinator in the northern city of Copiapó. Moving from the lush vegetation that I’d known all my life in southern Chile to the barren wastelands of the Atacama Desert would be a shock, I knew. But I also knew God was calling me to accept this new ministry challenge. In Copiapó I would have under my supervision nine churches, including a Gypsy kangiri, as this Romany people group called their church assemblies, in the small community of Paipote eight kilometers from Copiapó.
The regional capital of Copiapó is a community of about 130,000 inhabitants just beyond where Chile’s southern “green zone” gives way to the Atacama Desert. Its main industrial base is the copper, silver, and gold ore dug out of numerous mines in the surrounding area. A large copper smelter in nearby Paipote employs many local residents. Unexpectedly in such an arid zone, the second main source of employment is agricultural production. From my first visit to Copiapó, I was pleasantly surprised to find the town a green oasis, with irrigation for citrus and olive trees, vineyards, and vegetable crops coming from subterranean water sources deep beneath the thirsty surface.

Beyond the irrigated zones, the barrenness of a region that does not receive a single drop of rain is immediately evident. Since my childhood in Coelemu, surrounded by forest-cloaked hills, climbing has been one of my favorite pastimes. Once I’d begun my ministry, I’d made a practice in each new place to which God moved us of finding a nearby hill to climb where I be alone with God and pray. I was encouraged in doing so by the recognition that I was following Jesus’s own example of retreating in solitude to the mountains to spend time with His heavenly Father.
Shortly after arriving in Copiapó, I climbed to the top of a high hill overlooking the city, a peak dubbed by local residents Cerro de la Cruz, or Mountaintop of the Cross. The reason for its name was clear as I climbed. At the very summit of the hill, a large white cross rose against the cloudless blue backdrop of the sky.

As I reached the foot of the cross, a Bible verse rose to my thoughts that God had placed in my heart and mind since the very beginning of my ministry. The words were Jesus’s own as He foretold how He would soon die upon a cross: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32).

Ever since God had called me to serve Him in full-time ministry, my greatest desire had been to see the eyes of everyone drawn to Jesus Christ, to see my Savior exalted among all nations. As I stood there praying over the city of Copiapó and the new ministry to which God had called me, I added a very specific and bold prayer request. I prayed that God would open the door for me to preach His good news of redemption through Jesus Christ, not just in the city of Copiapó, but across the entire region of Atacama, throughout all Chile, and—if in God’s sovereign will I was given opportunity—one day even to the rest of the world beyond Chile’s borders.
Over the next months I was very busy in my new ministry responsibilities, visiting each of the nine churches assigned to my administration, working and praying with both adults and youth for revival in the church. Together as a united body of believers, we prayed that God would show us how we could make a difference in this city and region for Christ.
Meanwhile, my family had settled in well, my children quickly making new friends at a local Adventist school they attended. When we had free time, we enjoyed hiking the hills around Copiapó as a family. But whenever I could find time, I would climb alone to the white cross on the top of Cerro de la Cruz. Each time I would pray again the prayer I’d offered up on that first day.
Never did I dream that within eighteen months of the first time I climbed that hillside, God would provide a wonderful answer to that bold prayer I’d made, opening the doors for me to speak His gospel, not just throughout the Atacama region and all of Chile, but across the entire world.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

kids are hilarious

i was thinking today about sunday at church. sometimes they just say the funniest things. i don't have much else to say but i leave you with this gem. out of no where one of the girls was talking to another one of the volunteers and she pops up with this

"my mom passed gas in the car"

there are no words....

Saturday, October 15, 2011

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:

Thomas Nelson (October 11, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


With a B.A. in English Literature from Hollins University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, Hart serves as an inspirational speaker and creative writing instructor at conferences, retreats, schools, libraries and churches across the country, and she is the recipient of two national teaching
awards from Scholastic, Inc. and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. She lives with her husband, composer Edward Hart, and their family in Charleston. 

Visit the author's website.


She wanted her husband to attend the town’s society-driven church.

God answered her prayer in a radical way.

An emptiness dogs Mary Lynn Scoville. But it shouldn’t.  After all, she’s achieved what few believed possible. Born in the rural south, she has reached the pinnacle of worldly success in Charleston, South Carolina. Married to a handsome real estate developer and mother to three accomplished daughters, Mary Lynn is one Debutante Society invitation away from truly having it all. And yet, it remains—an emptiness that no shopping trip, European vacation, or social calendar can fill.

When a surprise encounter leads her to newfound faith, Mary Lynn longs to share it with her husband. But Jackson wrote God off long ago.  Mary Lynn prays for him on Christmas Eve...and her husband undergoes a life-altering, Damascus Road experience. As Jackson begins to take the implications of the Gospel literally, Mary Lynn feels increasingly isolated from her husband...and betrayed by God. She only wanted Jackson beside her at church on Sunday mornings, not some Jesus freak who evangelizes prostitutes and invites the homeless to tea.

While her husband commits social suicide and the life they worked so hard for crumbles around them, Mary Lynn wonders if their marriage can survive. Or if perhaps there really is a more abundant life that Jackson has discovered, richer than any she’s ever dreamed of.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 11, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595542000
ISBN-13: 978-1595542007


Mary Lynn Scoville

December 24, 2009

It was the morning before Christmas, and Mary Lynn was preparing for her sunrise jog around the tip of the Charleston Peninsula. She stretched her thighs and calves in the gray light of her piazza, then bounded out of her South Battery home, traveling west toward the coast guard station like she did every morning as part of her effort to “finally get back in shape” since her fortieth birthday, six short months ago.

   By the time she reached Tradd Street, the gray had turned to a soft, creamy light, and she hung a left and rounded the corner onto Murray Boulevard where she traced the west tip of the peninsula as buoys bobbed in the churning water of the harbor and pelicans—beak first, wings pulled tight against their large prehistoric bodies—dove for breakfast in a thrilling kind of free fall.

   At her husband Jackson’s strong suggestion, she stayed clear of the darkened cars parked along the edge of the waterway leading up to White Point Gardens. Unseemly characters gathered along the water’s edge at night and often fell asleep there, not to mention the handful of homeless folks who made their berths on park benches. There had been a murder in one of the cars last year as well as a rape, but the light was too high in the sky for any of that now. As her friend from her bluegrass days, Scottie Truluck, boldly proclaimed the day after someone broke into her house and took off with her laptop and her sterling silver tea set, you couldn’t let fear get in the way of your city life.

   Mary Lynn hit her stride, as usual, at the High Battery as a lone sailboat with little blinking white Christmas lights encircling its mast pushed through the choppy water. She felt her heart rate rising and she became conscious of her breathing, so she attempted to take her mind off of her workout and the pounding of the pavement on her knees by going through her to-do list for the day as she passed the Carolina Yacht Club where Jackson had been offered a membership after his second time through the application process. Hot dog! An invitation to join this exclusive, tight-knit club was a kind of proof that they had been officially accepted by Charleston society. Not an easy feat in this historic southern city that, after two brutal wars and a depression that stretched on for half a century, had good reason to be wary of outsiders. Of course, they both knew they had Mark Waters—an older friend with hometown ties—to thank for this and many of the doors that had been opened to them.

   Still, Mark didn’t run the entire city (especially not the old-Charleston set) no matter how deep his pockets, and the yacht club membership meant that they had finally passed some sort of insider’s test after their move to the city ten years ago. And that, along with the invitation Mary Lynn received last year to join the Charlestowne Garden Club and another to serve as chairman of the board of the old and prestigious Peninsula Day School, made her feel like this truly was their home. Their real home. She smiled even as she panted. She and Jackson, two country bumpkins from Meggett, South Carolina, were somehow making their way into Charleston society. Who’d have ever thunk it?

   But that wasn’t even the primary goal for Jackson, who was the sharpest, most focused man Mary Lynn had ever known. The real goal for him (and he had written it down and asked her to put it in her jewelry box in an envelope marked “family mission statement”) was to give their three girls the life he and Mary Lynn never had. This meant a top-rate education, exposure and immersion in the fine arts, and frequent opportunities to see the big wide world beyond the Carolina lowcountry or the United States for that matter.

   “Not just education, baby—cultivation,” he would say as they lay side by side in their four-poster antique bed purchased on King Street for a pretty penny, Jackson resting some classic novel he should have read in high school on his chest. Then Mary Lynn would look up from the Post and Courier or Southern Living or lately, the little black leather Bible Scottie had given her after the birthday luncheon meltdown, and smile.

   Every time Mary Lynn and Jackson discussed their children, she had an image of her husband tilling the soil of their daughters’ minds and dropping down the little seeds like he did every spring growing up on his daddy’s farm. “Just like the tomaters, darlin’,” he’d say in his exaggerated country accent. “Only now it is little intellects that will one day be big as cantaloupes!”

   A pretty lofty mission. But a worthy one, Mary Lynn supposed. Though sometimes she grew nervous that he rode the girls too hard with their school work and over scheduled them with extracurricular activities—strings lessons, writing workshops, ballet, and foreign language. They sure didn’t have much time to lollygag or linger or strike out on an adventure as she had as a child roaming the corn fields on her uncle’s farm, climbing trees, building forts, or spending the night in a sleeping bag beneath a blanket of stars. Despite her mama’s missteps and mean old Mrs. Gustafson, who made sure the whole town knew every little detail about them, Mary Lynn had a sanctuary on her uncle’s farm. Much of her childhood she was ignorantly blissful of all the trouble and the gossip that surrounded her family as she played hide-and-seek in the corn husks with her mama, running fast through the papery leaves that gently slapped her face. Then crouching down as she heard the sweet voice of her only parent call, “Ready or not, here I come!”

   But Mary Lynn had to acknowledge the fruit of Jackson’s labors. Thanks to his staying after them, the girls were well on their way to mastering a stringed instrument and they could carry on a conversation (and for their oldest, read a novel) in French and Spanish. Imagine!

   Who would have guessed the upward turn their lives would take after Jackson’s daddy’s death revealed the little real estate gems up and down the South Carolina coast he had inherited from a great uncle? The timing was right and Jackson had been shrewd. He turned to Mark Waters, who showed him just how to go about it. This was in the early ’90s, well before the economic downturn, and Jackson sold each piece of property for five and even ten times what his great uncle had paid for it. Then he bought more land, bought several low-end housing projects Mark introduced him to, invested in some of Mark’s big commercial and condo development ventures, and did the same year-in and year-out for more than a decade as the market soared.

   “Boy, you picked wisely,” Mama had said the first time she came to visit them at their new home on South Battery. She narrowed her eyes and looked up at Mary Lynn. “’Course I thought Mark was going to gnash his teeth when he got a gander at the skinny farm boy you had fallen for.”

   “Mama, Mark was married by that point.”

   “Not that nuptials ever meant much to the Waters clan.” She winked, then shook her head. Mary Lynn guessed her mama was thinking of her own engagement to Mark’s father, who had proposed after she ran his office for years. They never did make it to the altar. “But you saw something in Jackson no one else took the time to see, smart girl.” Then she walked carefully over to the portrait of some eighteenth-century British gentleman that their decorator had insisted they purchase for the foyer, rubbed the corner of its gilded frame, and shook her head in disbelief before turning back. “You saw the man in the boy, didn’t you?”

   Mary Lynn had smiled. Then she walked over and kissed her mama’s made-up cheek. It felt cool like putty.

   “I was just lucky, Mama.” And that was the truth. Jackson was the only boy in town she ever dated, though Mark Waters had told her more than once he’d wait for her to grow up. Of course, she wasn’t surprised that he didn’t.

   Her mama had nodded her head as she walked into the foyer and rested her hand on the grand staircase’s large pineapple finial. Then she gazed up the three flights of intricately trimmed hardwood stairs, clucked her tongue, and said, “Everybody gets lucky sometimes, I reckon.”

Now if Jackson stuck with Mark and played it right, he might not have to work for the rest of his life, and he and Mary Lynn would leave a pretty penny to their girls someday. With financial security and intellects as big as cantaloupes, what more could their daughters need?

   But back to the to-do list. Mary Lynn still had a few presents to wrap, and she needed to polish the silver serving pieces for the “show and tell” tea party they had hosted every Christmas afternoon for the last eight years. Jackson, who had taken up the cello a few years ago, was trying to get their three daughters to perform a movement from a Haydn string quartet (Opus 20, no. 4 in D major, second movement to be exact), and he had played the slow and somber piece on the CD player so many times over the last month that Mary Lynn found that she was waking up from her sleep with the notes resounding in her head.

   She’d never really known of Haydn; she never knew a lick about classical music until they moved to Charleston and started going to the symphony and the Spoleto Festival events. Eventually they became supporters of the symphony and the College of Charleston’s music department, and now she found she could recognize a few pieces by ear, though in all honesty, she always daydreamed when she went to a concert. Sometimes it would be over, the audience would be standing for their ovation, and she’d be lost in thought about shelling butter beans on the back porch with Aunt Josey or sitting by Uncle Dale in the rocking chairs as he tuned his mandolin before they started in on “Man of Constant Sorrow” or “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” with him singing low and Mary Lynn singing the dissonant high lonesome sound while she twirled and twirled around. Uncle Dale said she had a voice that was pure sugar and more moves than a croker sack full of eels. And once when Mark Waters and his daddy, Cecil, were over, Cecil teared up over the singing and the twirling and then insisted on underwriting voice and guitar lessons from a famous country music writer who had settled in Charleston. Mary Lynn and her mother drove the fifty minutes into town for the next seven years until she graduated with two offers: one from her guitar instructor to join his newly formed bluegrass band as the lead singer, and an academic scholarship to USC-Beaufort. Since she was smart enough even then to know that an eighteen-year-old girl didn’t need to be traveling in a band, and since Jackson had proposed on bended knee, she did what felt right to her heart: she chose the scholarship and married her sweetheart.

   But on those mornings when she dropped the kids off at school and had to run a few errands, she turned back to the radio station she grew up listening to, an old blend of rock ‘n’ roll and country and bluegrass, and tapped along to Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash or the Stanley Brothers as she drove through the historic streets with her windows rolled up as if she were in her own secret time capsule, transporting herself back to when she was thirteen, dancing and twirling with her mama to “Return to Sender” on the screened porch as Aunt Josey and Uncle Dale clapped and laughed.

   Catherine and Lilla, Mary Lynn’s oldest girls, both played violin, and Casey, the baby by five years, played the viola. Their family quartet sounded all right, except for the cello, which made an occasional alley cat screech when Jackson came at it a little off angle. She imagined they’d be practicing all day to get it right for tomorrow’s performance.

   The sun was beginning to warm Mary Lynn’s back when she turned from East Bay Street onto Broad where she planned to sprint all-out to Meeting Street, then stop and walk briskly home the rest of the way, her hands raised and clasped behind her head, her heart pounding, then slowing moment by moment as the brisk air chilled her sweaty body to the bone. What a way to wake up! She loved it. And she had shed twelve of the fifteen pounds she had been trying to get rid of since her big birthday.

   But this morning, just after she bounded at full speed across Church Street and back onto the uneven sidewalk of Broad Street, the front tip of her left running shoe caught for a split second in a crooked old grate so that when she slammed her right foot down and lunged at a sharp angle to keep herself from somersaulting, she heard a tear just below the back of her knee and a pain blasted through her calf as though she had been shot at close range.

   “Agh!” she screamed, falling hard on her side and grasping the back of her right leg.

   She knew what had happened, and she wasn’t sure if it was her knowledge or the pain that was causing the intense wave of nausea. She spit and attempted to will her stomach to settle down as her aching muscle throbbed.

   The injury, she was sure, was tennis leg, a rupture of the calf muscle on the inside of the leg. She had suffered the same kind of tear in the same place two other times before. Once when Scottie had taken her to a Joni Mitchell concert in Atlanta and she had danced a little too hard to “California,” and just two years ago, when she was standing on the top of her living room sofa, hanging a new set of silk drapes hours before hosting a Parents Guild luncheon.

   Mary Lynn put her forehead on her knee and ground her teeth. The stones from the old sidewalk were cool beneath her legs, and a chill worked its way up her spine. At best, she would spend the next ten days on crutches icing down her leg every few hours. And then another six weeks in physical therapy. Or worse, she would have to undergo surgery—something Dr. Powell had warned her about after her last rupture. “Surgery means no bearing weight for four months,” he had said, looking over his tortoise shell bifocals at her. “So be cautious, Mary Lynn.”

   The street was quiet on this early Thursday morning. No one was around to gawk or help her up, and she started to weep—more from the frustration, from the time she would lose in the days and weeks to come, and from the stupid grate that no one in the city had bothered to right in maybe one hundred years than from the pain that seemed to compound itself with every new beat of her heart.

   She put her clammy palms on the sidewalk and rotated her body over to her left side toward the entry way of the Spencer Art Gallery, and then she slowly felt her way up the side of the stone building until she was upright. She would have to walk on her tippy toes until she flagged someone down or found an open store where she could use the phone to call Jackson.

   Mary Lynn swung her head back and forth in an effort to shake off the stars she was seeing. She walked a good block, carefully, on the balls of her feet to the corner of Meeting and Broad singing “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” by Elvis just to keep herself going. When she rounded the corner where St. Michael’s Episcopal Church stood, she spotted Roy Summerall, the rector, chatting animatedly to a familiar-looking man who leaned against a parked taxi cab, steam rising from his coffee mug.

   She recognized the man as soon as he glanced in her direction. It was Craig MacPherson, Alyssa’s father. (Alyssa was one of Catherine’s best friends.) He had lost his job as a real estate appraiser during the recent economic crisis, and he was forced to pull Alyssa out of the Peninsula Day School, the private school Mary Lynn’s daughters attended. Now she could see that the rumor she heard was true. He was driving a cab to make ends meet.

   Then just as she relaxed the balls of her feet after her favorite line in the chorus—“Yeah, before you abuse, criticize and accuse . . .”—in her relief over finding some folks she knew could help her, the pain shot through her leg, worse than before, and she leaned forward and vomited all over the base of the large white church column closest to Broad Street.

   The men must have heard her retching. By the time she looked back up again, wincing and straining to get upright and back on her tip toes, they were by her side, gently placing her arms around their shoulders.

   “You all right, Mary Lynn?” Reverend Summerall asked. She had been attending his church with Scottie every now and then, and she had met him once briefly at a Downtown Neighborhood Association gathering awhile back, but she was sort of surprised that he remembered her name.

   She pulled her arm back around, wiped her mouth with the back of her fleece jacket, then placed it on his shoulder again. “Tennis leg.” She shook her head in disbelief. “I tore a muscle in my calf. It’s happened to me before.”

   The men made a quick plan to carry her to the cab.

   “On three,” Craig MacPherson said, and after he called out the numbers, she felt them lift her up and carefully scurry her down the sidewalk before setting her gently in the backseat of Craig’s taxi.

   “Let’s get you home,” Craig said.

   “Wait.” Roy put his hand on her shoulder and uttered a quick prayer. She couldn’t make out the words, but that didn’t matter. She had no problem with prayers. In fact, she was starting to like them. She’d been going with Scottie to a women’s prayer group at the church every Wednesday afternoon for almost two years now, and she had become downright used to listening to folks pray out loud for one another’s needs, though she’d never had the nerve to join in.

   “Thank you.” She looked up and swiveled her head back and forth to meet both sets of sympathetic eyes. “I’ll be okay.” And then to Roy, “Sorry to leave a mess on your portico.”

   The priest smiled. “Don’t worry about that. Just take care of yourself. I’ll check in on you later.”

   Mary Lynn nodded, and Craig gently closed the cab door and walked around to the driver’s side. She was surprised by how clean the car was. It smelled like soap and maybe gardenias? Some sort of flower, anyway. And when she looked up to see Craig’s picture and license displayed on the visor, she noticed a drawing that Alyssa must have made for him. It was of the steeple of St. Michael’s with the sun shining through the second tier balcony. The one with the handsome arches. Then she saw the girl’s name inscribed in the far right corner.

   Sitting down felt much better, and Mary Lynn was astonished by how much the pain receded when she took weight off of her leg. She needed to get ice on her calf as soon as she got home, and she would have to elevate her leg (up higher than her heart as she recalled) to stop the ache. That was how she would spend the whole afternoon—her leg in a pillow with a rope tied to the ceiling beam. That and calling all of the guests to cancel tomorrow’s tea.

   But she felt so much better at this moment. Whew. Sitting down in the back of the clean cab with the bright sunlight shooting through the windows, she felt relief. As if, for a moment anyway, it had never happened.

   As they turned off of Meeting Street onto South Battery, she could see her historic white clapboard home in the distance, particularly grand in its Christmas décor—fresh garland around the doorway and piazza rail, two magnolia-leaf wreaths with large gold bows on each piazza door, and even a little red berry wreath around the head of the statue in the center of the fountain in the side garden. That had been Casey’s idea, and it added a little whimsy to the decorations, Mary Lynn thought. To her it made the house wink to the passersby as if to say, There are children who live here! It’s not a just a photo from Architectural Digest. See? Every time Mary Lynn saw it, she grinned.

   As Craig went around to help her out of the car, she turned to face him and still did not feel the pain. He took out his cell phone. “Should I call Jackson to meet us down here?”

   “No,” she said. “He’s probably on his morning walk and I’m sure the girls are still asleep.” She reached out her hand. “If you help me out, I can make it in on the balls of my feet.”

   Like Mary Lynn, Jackson had a morning ritual—walking their black Labrador, Mac, up King Street to Caviar & Bananas, munching on a scone and an espresso, reading the New York Times, preparing for a meeting with Mark or mapping out the day, the week, or the month—depending on how exuberant he was—and walking briskly home. Sometimes she ran into him a block from their house on her way home from her morning run. He usually brought something back to her—a muffin or a strawberry dipped in chocolate, which she discreetly gave to Anarosa, the housekeeper, to take home to her little boys. And now that the girls were out of school for the holiday, he brought something for them as well. Casey always enjoyed her treat, but the older girls were watching their weight and they, too, gave their treat to Anarosa.

   When Craig leaned forward, she put her arm around his shoulder and let him hoist her up on her tippy toes. Then she took a step forward on the balls of her feet, still leaning on him, and she didn’t feel any pain. She took another step. Nothing. Her calf felt normal. She almost put her heels down, but she was afraid to.

   When a horn from a driver stuck behind the recycling truck blasted just yards ahead, she was so startled, she leaned back and was forced to put her heel on the sidewalk.

   The pain behind the back of her knee was not there.

   She looked up at Craig. Her eyebrows furrowed. She rubbed the back of her leg. No tenderness. Nothing. What in the world?

   “Hurt bad?” he said. He shook his head in an effort to commiserate. Then he stepped back and leaned forward with his hands on his knees to give her a little space. Maybe he thought she might get sick again.

   She looked up at him. Had she dreamed the whole thing? No. She had heard her muscle rip. She had felt the shot of pain. It had happened to her two other times in her life, and she knew precisely what it was.

   She decided not to answer Craig. It was just so strange. After a few seconds he lifted out his hand and she leaned into it expecting the pain to kick in, but it didn’t. Once she was on the piazza, she thanked him and he headed back to his cab. Then she unlocked the door, walked in the house with her heels firmly planted on the hardwood floor.

   Was she fine?

   She shook her right leg out. She walked. She did a few lunges, then jumped up and down several times, which caused Mac to bark and run into the foyer where he stopped, stared, and tilted his head as if he were as confused as she was.

   Had Reverend Summerall’s prayer been answered?

   “How was your run?” Jackson handed her a chocolate croissant in a waxy little bag. He was back sooner than she expected.

   How many calories in a chocolate croissant? Way too many for a gal beating back a middle-age paunch in the midst of the holiday season. And how was her run? Well, she wanted to tell him the whole story, but something held her back. He had made it clear since she started going to church with Scottie that he had no interest in religion. He wasn’t going to stop her. It didn’t bother him that she went. He just didn’t want her to expect him to follow along with all of that. He had a mission, after all, and he was focused.

   He cocked his head. “Your jog all right, baby?”

   She looked into his bright green eyes. They blinked slowly. It was the first time they had made eye contact today.

   “Amazing,” she finally said. She smiled and lovingly squeezed his shoulder. Then she gently accepted the little waxy bag and headed to the pantry where Anarosa kept her purse.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Book Review - A Sound Among the Trees

A mansion with layers of history, and a family who has lived there for multiple generations. For family ancestor and Civil War-era Susannah Page, that house had not been such a pleasant haven. She was rumored to be a spy for the North and was accused of being a traitor.

These days her great-granddaughter Adelaide is the current matriarch of the Holly Oak house. But she doesn't think that Susannah's ghost haunts the mansion looking for something. She just suspects that the house holds a grudge on its tragic past.

And now Marielle Bishop from Arizona is marrying into the family. It's not long before she comes to believe that the house brings a great deal of strife to the women who live within its walls. With Adelaide very superstitious and the family’s roots compromised, Marielle feels as if she has to sort out the truth when it comes to Susannah and the Holly Oak mansion - all while trying to persuade herself that the sacrifices she made for love were worth all the ghost talk.

Admittedly when I first started this novel it didn't seem very exciting and I almost stopped after about 30 pages, but thankfully I did not. As you dig down deeper into the story it gets more and more intriguing. The book is split into five different parts. The only real complaint I had was that part four was extraordinarily long and dragged on a bit.

The characters were quite interesting and the story was very original. Having never read a novel like this, I found it to be a refreshing treat. I have a few of Susan Meissner's books but haven't gotten to them as of yet and this one was a great introduction. More of her books will be reviewed in the future. Not being able to divulge much about what goes on in the book is tough - you could easily give away most of the book in your excitement if you weren't careful! It's a great selection if you are a fan of historical fiction.

It is out now, so go check it out!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

free money!

So I like coupons, they are great cause its free money. Some are great for free meals. That’s why the month of October is so great! Its the boys birthday month and then we get free date night meals! I'm so stoked about it.

We are going to benihanas on Wednesday. Then we have one that will be for the keg and claim jumpers. There is free ice cream coupons and more meal coupons from other places, like red robin.

Along the same line is I LOVE their coupons. They have such good deals. And the best part is to wait til the certificates are like 2 and 3 bucks a piece. Its a steal! We have a few of those and I’m excited to go to dinners with those coupons too. Sometimes getting a good deal on a meal is a high.

Another good thing I think is entertainment books. They have real good deals in those too. You just have to wait until the books go on a good sale.

Now since I’m all about coupons and good deals. Free money is good too. So there is swagbucks, mypoints and now superpoints. They are sites that you accumulate points on and get free gift cards! The boy and I just made a purchase on amazon with the free points its so exciting.

If anyone wants an invite to superpoints leave an email or click on these links:

its such a great thing and fast to get that free money. Love it!

Monday, October 10, 2011

i'm just sad.

I'm sad, its just a fact its not the weather cause I love fall and sweaters and scarves and such. But this is because of a best friend. I have one best friend we will call him robot for the sake of this entry.

Well for the last few years communication has been scarce and its different because we used to talk pretty much every day and now there is nothing. Won't call, text or message back and basically hes just being a really huge idiot towards me. I dunno why after almost 14 years of friendship this is happening. But then again there is a girl on his end. Yeah I have a boyfriend but I never cut anyone off.

It just really makes me sad that he can't take the 30 seconds to write a text or at leas t let me know hes still alive or talk to me cause he claims we are best friends and we were. But I don't know anymore. It really makes me sad.

Yes I have the boy but I don't really have many or any people to talk to other than him, I love him dearly but sometimes it'd be nice to have my other friends to talk to when the boy isn't around. I don't even really know what to do about it i'm just super sad. I wish I could fix it and I wish sometimes I wouldn't get screwed over with these 10+ year friendships. But I dunno what else to do I don't know how to stop it when I can't get communication back from the other person.

That is my depressing post for the day. I will be back maybe tomorrow with happy stuff.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

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:

Barbour Books (September 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Radio personality, recording artist, speaker and author Lisa Troyer finds herself heart-deep in ministries that are changing lives forever. Her incredibly successful Circle of Friends women’s ministry, formed over a decade ago, is growing in all directions. With partners Dawn Yoder and Jocelyn Hamsher, Lisa and her Circle of Friends offer women’s conferences, counseling services, worship music, life skills classes and marriage/family resources. No matter the outlet or the venue, Lisa uses her gift of encouragement, her influence and her resources to open doors for women everywhere to discover their significance and belonging through Christ.

Active on the business side of the music industry for many years, Lisa worked as a copyright administrator for what is now Provident/Integrity Music, as well as a consultant for well-known European Christian recording artists. In Nashville, she also sang demos for songwriters, but never dreamed of recording music herself.

After several years in Nashville, much to everyone’s surprise, including her own, Lisa made the decision to return home to join the family business and explore what kind of ministry God had planned for her. As Lisa began to develop a deeper, more intimate relationship with God and, subsequently, became more involved with the steady stream of hurting women God placed in her path, she knew that she had found her calling.

Lisa’s passion for God, authentic love for people and undeniable giftings have landed her dead center in the middle of a burgeoning ministry beyond her wildest expectations. She lives in Berlin, Ohio, with husband and best friend Bob, and their two precious children, Jillian and Christian.

Visit the author's website.


Every woman needs a place to belong—and that’s the underlying theme of the new book from Lisa Troyer, president of Circle of Friends Ministries, singer/songwriter and radio host. In A Place to Belong: Out of Our Comfort Zone and into God’s Adventure (Barbour Publishing), Troyer shares her own journey to acceptance as well as the story of a group of dynamic “women helping women” who call themselves the Circle of Friends. Troyer encourages readers to form their own circle of friends, a safe place of truth and love where women can develop lasting relationships and discover together the purposes of God for their lives.

Though refreshingly warm and simple, A Place to Belong is far from shallow. Troyer’s passion to lead others into the bottomless love of God compels her to plunge deeply into the heart of the issues all women face, but most keep to themselves. With tendencies toward depression, anxiety attacks and an eating disorder, she knows firsthand the bondage of secrecy and shame. “Living with a secret,” Troyer admits, “doesn’t make it go away. It doesn’t change your heart. As well hidden as your secret it, that is how deeply lonely you will be. I’ve been there. I know it’s true.”

In A Place to Belong, she explores five principles that address the heart-needs of women today:

* Acceptance, embarking on adventure in relationship

* Authenticity, exchanging the familiar for the extraordinary

* Affirmation, enriching the lives of those around you

* Accountability, receiving the comfort of companionship

* Action, stepping into the journey and walking into the purpose

By learning to apply these concepts, women will not only experience freedom themselves but will also develop a biblical, transformational ministry to lead others within their own sphere of influence to freedom as well.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616265051
ISBN-13: 978-1616265052


I Had a Secret

This is my story. Acceptance means you can tell yours.

Day after day for four years in high school, I felt his eyes on me. His aftershave lingered in the aisle as he walked past rows of students, and I remember what his presence felt like when he stood close to me.
I kept his secret all that time and for many years afterward. Protecting him was not my agenda. I thought I was protecting myself. 

I was not going to be one of those girls.

I was not going to get that kind of reputation.

He was a married man, and I was not going to give in to what he asked of me.
School is supposed to be safe, for crying out loud. He had no business doing the things he did, and I knew that at the time. But I was fourteen, a freshman in high school, and I didn’t want to walk the halls in my smalltown high school and have everybody see the cloud of inappropriateness that hovered over me. Who would whisper behind my back? Who would

pull away from me if they knew?

So I kept quiet.
He asked me out, and I kept quiet. He made physical passes at me, and I kept quiet. He offered to purchase alcohol for a friend, and I, sadly, accepted the offer. I remember the warm spring day in early May of my sophomore year when he asked if I needed anything for the weekend and suggested he join me for a drink. And I kept quiet. He looked at me in that way, and I kept quiet. I felt ashamed and confused, and knew this was wrong, but I kept quiet. I sat in his classes every year and earned awards. He was part of my day, part of my routine existence, and no one but my best friend ever suspected the things he suggested to me in private moments. She did not know everything, but she knew something was going on. But she kept quiet, too.
I wasn’t the first girl with whom this teacher behaved in inappropriate ways, and I wouldn’t be the last. I knew just enough about his previous victims to know their reputations were trashed. He was the predator, but they paid the price, and I was not going to let that happen to me.

So I said nothing.
But I had chronic stomachaches, repeated severe colds, wanted to sleep all the time, and hated going to school. School was never my favorite activity to begin with. I preferred to read what I was interested in and found little wonder in things that didn’t apply to my focus du jour. The heightened emotional pressure in high school made attendance even less motivating. My junior and senior years were especially difficult. My interest in music was increasing, but so were my level of frustration and signs of clinical depression, though I didn’t know the phrase at the time. I wonder now how I didn’t flunk out of school. Two elements of relief were my choral and humanities classes. I enjoyed singing and reading Wuthering Heights and other classic literature. I was thankful for the positive influence and encouragement of Penny McKey and Connie Evans, true educators in every sense of the word. Despite my emotional challenges, I managed to make the honor roll and progress toward graduation.

When I was a senior in high school, my stomach trouble took the form of a duodenal ulcer. Because the symptoms persisted after the ulcer healed, the gastroenterologist suggested my parents explore a psychological reason for my illness. I started seeing a psychologist, who officially diagnosed my clinical depression. His practice was not faith-based, but he had studied for the priesthood before getting married, and he encouraged my own faith. It was a safe place for me to say I was not okay without saying why I was not okay.

I still kept the secret.
After a while, my father had his doubts that the psychologist was doing any good, but I had recently turned eighteen. By the grace of God, the psychologist reminded me I no longer needed my parents’ permission to see him, and he offered to treat me for free for a few months. We spent a lot of time talking about my poor dating choices and areas of my life where I felt I had little control. Looking back now, I realize the therapist probably suspected more than he ever expressed. He was waiting for me to be ready to talk.
But still I said nothing.
My free visits with the psychologist got me through the months until graduation, and then I was free from that environment. I never had to see that teacher again. I was off to the Art Institute of Atlanta, far away from my small Midwestern town, to prepare for a career on the business side of

the music industry.
You can’t just walk away.
Just because I did not reveal what happened during high school did not mean the experience had no effect on me. It was years before I told anyone the whole sordid truth and faced the huge impact it had. The depression that began during those years has been a specter for all of my adult life.
On the outside, things looked good. My dad wanted me to take his financial investment in my education seriously, so he said, “No bad grades and no partying, or the money stops.” I didn’t intend to give him a reason to cut me off. I now enjoyed school. I was free from my tormentor. I could be anybody I wanted to be. People who struggle with depression and don’t take prescribed medications tend to medicate themselves with something else, and that’s what I did. I plunged into a whole new social life where no one had even heard of my school or the predator who gave me an ulcer. I amassed a new cadre of friends and relished the freedom of living in an apartment by myself. I even dated a young man who presumed we would marry someday—although I knew I would never marry him. Social activities stimulated me and became the core around which my life revolved. I looked forward—never back. I was grown up now, I thought. The past was behind me. I was never going to live in my hometown again, so I had no reason to dwell on the things that happened there. After graduation from the exhaustive one-year program and an internship with the retail division of Zondervan, a publisher with a music arm, I was ready to take on the world.

In those days, a career in the music business meant New York, Los Angeles, or Nashville. My parents objected to Los Angeles, and I had no desire to move to New York. That left Nashville. So off I went with a classmate. We planned to share expenses. Neither of us had a job, nor any

prospects, but the hope of youth springs eternal. However, my friend soon found that Nashville was not the place for her and resumed her vocation of ministry and education. So I was on my own.

And I still carried my secret.
In Nashville, at the ripe old age of twenty, I found a niche on Music Row, a historic area that is home to hundreds of enterprises involved in country, gospel, and Christian music. Record labels, publishing houses, recording studios, video production companies—they’re all there. I found a job singing demos for a studio in a music publishing company, but ultimately I wanted to work for a Christian company.

I kept inquiring at Benson Records, a major Christian music publishing company that belonged to Zondervan at the time. I grew up in a family business, and I knew the easiest department to get into was sales, where the turnover is always high. So I just kept asking. Eventually I got a job.

The woman who hired me said it was not because I had any experience that impressed her. Rather, my tenacity captured her attention. So I jumped into

the sales department ready to give it everything I had. Six weeks later, a job in the copyright administration department opened, and she recommended me for that promotion since I’d had some experience on Music Row with similar tasks.
My stubbornness paid off, and I had what I wanted. I was independent. I was out of the Midwest countryside. I was on my way to a career on the business side of the music industry. I worked for a Christian company.
I stayed in Nashville long enough to know I didn’t want to work for someone else the rest of my life. The family dairy business that was the backdrop of my childhood had imprinted me with a different mind-set. I had proven I could bulldog my way into the music scene in Nashville, but for what? My parents ran their own business and employed dozens of other people. In addition to his solid business, my dad was always pursuing interests he loved. He even bought a plane. I understand my father. He is never one to shy away from a challenge or an adventure. I wanted to find that elusive intersection between work that paid the bills and being involved with activities that brought meaning to my life. When Dad invited me to return home and join the family business, I took him up on it. I could have the security of the business behind me while also exploring what kind of ministry God had planned for me.

When I chose to move back to my hometown, people thought I had lost my marbles. Didn’t I realize how hard it was to get a job at one of the country’s largest Christian music companies? If I walked away now, I might never get another chance.
My broken past was behind me. At least, I convinced myself this was true. I was twenty-four years old—a lifetime away from that high school girl with a secret—and embarking on independent music industry consulting. I worked for Cliff Richard, one of England’s most popular recording artists, from a base in the rural Midwest. I also jumped right into making cold calls to find new distribution outlets for specialty items of the family business and turned out to be pretty good at the job.

But I still had a secret.
Secrets make you lonely.
Secrets can destroy from the inside. When I kept my secret, I thought I was protecting myself, but instead I isolated myself from people who cared about me. I put up a wall to try to keep myself safe, but instead I kept out people who would have wanted to help. I regret all the years I didn’t tell my mother what happened. As a teenager, I wanted to avoid the attention that surely would come from exposing the predator—my mother would have

made sure he lost his job. He continued to prey on high school girls and eventually was found out. I just didn’t want to be the one who made that happen, and I was clueless about how deeply the events would affect me as I launched into adulthood. As hard as I tried to pretend that what happened didn’t matter after I left high school, the episodes haunted me for years.
All these years later, I still feel naked telling this story, even without including the details. But I hope we are going to travel together on the road to a transforming life in God, so you need to know that this happened to me. In the pages ahead, you’ll read about a lot of heartache. Some of it is mine, some of it reflects the lives of women I know, and some of it rises from the pages of the Bible. And yes, there are some sordid details God thinks we need to know!

Keeping a secret doesn’t make it go away.

Putting on your mask doesn’t change what’s in your heart.

As well hidden as your secret is, that’s how deeply lonely you will be. I’ve been there. I know it’s true.

So I tell you my secret and invite you into my journey with God to encourage you to step into your own journey with God. I’m not suggesting you publish your innermost wrestling in the daily newspaper or on a blog or a billboard. But I do hope you will begin to see the bountiful blessing that can come to your life if you unclench your fists and let go of whatever you have been hiding from yourself. From others. From God.
Circle of Friends is a ministry of women who both seek and offer a place to belong, a place of acceptance, a place of truth and love.

This is my story. Acceptance means you can tell yours.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sorry for the dead blog lately.

Life got really busy and I just didn't feel like writing honestly. This have been insane also. So lets give a little update.

The Garden:

what a crappy year for a garden in Seattle. My garden did pretty crappy honestly. I only got about 4 or 5 zucchinis and cucumbers. The carrots still aren't growing very rapidly. The green onions are not going very fast either. The tomatoes finally started going but now its colder and rainy so I may have to take them off the plants to ripen inside. My kale has done amazing though! And the leeks I have are still growing. I might need to thin those out though. But most everyone around here that did have a garden had a sucky year for it. Well we'll try next year.


well I have now gotten caught up sort of in my reading. Now I gotta get on the ball on posting reviews. If its not one thing its another!

A rant about religion:

its something that always bothers me when someone is being super religious. When I woke up I was annoyed. And then I had a song lyric pop into my head.

“No one rocks the boat, It was never your point to get people saved, can't tamper with the walls of their sterile Christian bubble. you pad yourself with fluff just because you're afraid. I'm not afraid to point the finger now, the choir's so used to the preaching anyhow. “

I had been reading a bit of Jon Acuff's “Stuff Christians Like” and its hilarious. A lot of things he writes about is so classic of religious people. But at the same time it makes me sick. Its like some thing if you avoid the thing that gives you temptation that you can be rid of temptation completely. And that is not true, temptation will follow you no matter what. You just have to stare it right in the face. A lot of people go way overboard with the whole thing. Even just with facebook, its not even that bad yeah there is some stuff on there that could just be eliminated but you learn to deal with it. Just like you can't eliminate non christians, you can't eliminate whatever is on facebook. I get that modest clothing is something that a lot of people talk about. But also you can go too far with that also. When you are preaching about it constantly it might be too far. Those are my two cents for now.

Amanda Knox:

now this subject hits close to home, literally across the alley in the back of my house. She is my neighbor, her family lives behind me and I was so anxious about the verdict on Monday. And I totally burst into tears at the verdict, happy tears. It is SO amazing I’m so happy for them. But the neighborhood is now sort of a zoo. Yesterday it was difficult with news trucks everywhere and people gawking wanting to get on TV its pretty annoying. I am so glad she isn't at her moms house, and in an undisclosed location. But still with all these paparazzi people around its just pretty annoying. We just want to make sure no one tampers with the house or comes in our alley. Also this morning I was opening my curtain and there was a camera guy on our street camera almost aimed at my window and I was still in my pj's with bed head and was like “oh crap” so I guess now I have to shower before opening curtains. Haha pretty stupid but it is what it is. I just hope she stays safe and gets the rest she needs.

I think that’s about all for now.