Friday, April 11, 2014

Becoming the Chateran by S. J. Aisling

My Thoughts: 
I'm currently reading
Becoming the Chateran, so I cannot yet give a thorough review. That said, let me give you my first impressions. But first I must tell you a little story. Currently, I am teaching/leading a writing club for homeschoolers. We meet every Wednesday to discuss writing and read our prose to each other. Before starting this book, we went over 'Using our Senses' in writing. We went outside and wrote down what we heard, then what we smelled, and also what we saw. That night I started reading Becoming the Chateran. If you'll scroll down, you'll see that I've included the first chapter on this post. Read the 3rd, 4th, and 5th tickled me to see all the senses being used. The next week I read those paragraphs to the club. What a wonderful example of writing with senses in mind! I loved it!

As a fantasy writer and illustrator myself, I have enjoyed paging through this book and looking at all of S. J.'s drawings. She has really done a wonderful job with the clothing, scenery, and the creatures. My only criticism would be that all the human faces look alike. I wish that she had used real people as models or at least varied the facial structures. Also, I would have liked to see these as finished drawings, without all the sketch lines still showing. They do show some great emotions and movement.

I give S. J. kudos for her imaginative names, but I have a terrible time remembering how to pronounce them. Luckily, she has a pronunciation guide at the end of the book. Still, I would enjoy it more if the names of the characters and towns etc. were a bit easier to read.

I am eager to get into this story and will let you know more of my thoughts when I have finished the book. It is rather long, 536 pages, so it may take a while.

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:


***Special thanks to Michael Allanson for sending me a review copy.***


Stacia Joy has always loved to tell stories and invent fictional lands and characters. But she never considered becoming a writer herself until age thirteen, when, inspired by a pretend play she invented with a friend, she wrote the first draft of Becoming the Chateran. The story has since expanded into what will become The Chateran Series. Stacia Joy also writes in several other genres, including steampunk and paranormal/science fiction, and occasionally writes poems about buffalo.
Wanting to be able to show others what her imagined universe looks like, Stacia Joy taught herself to draw by studying the work of illustrators like Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Rackham, Kate Seredy, and Jan Brett. She also received training in illustration and graphic design at Madison Area Technical College, and plans to become a full-fledged freelance illustrator before long.
When not immersed in writing or art, Stacia Joy spends her time playing the piano and folk harp, composing music, Irish dancing, singing at the top of her lungs, and learning new things. She also enjoys helping with children's ministry at her church, and currently resides in the Madison, Wisconsin area with a kitten named Lord Peter Whimsey.

Visit the author's website.


When Princess Rhea’s actions inadvertently condemn two innocent knights to death, she wakes to the hard reality that not even nobility is above the law. All her attempts to remedy the situation only complicate it, however, until she finds herself a fugitive in her own kingdom, having dragged her best friend into the trouble, as well. Their only hope for pardon? To accompany Sir Paladin and Sir Zephen in their sentence:
Slay, or be slain by, the Dragons of Sama-Ael-Fen.
Travelling incognito, they meet with more malicious Phoenixes than could be coincidental, discover the mysterious disappearance of numerous citizens, and come face to face with a reawakened evil power. With the kingdom oblivious to the connection of these dangers, it’s up to Rhea and her outlaw companions to stop the rising threat and redeem their names – if they can survive their quest.

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Series: Becoming the Chateran
Paperback: 560 pages
Publisher: ANEKO Press (February 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1622450965
ISBN-13: 978-1622450961


Part One: Princess’s Honor

Chapter One

Commotion in the Castle

“Griffin guard! Double the patrol, search the area!”
“Send archers to the outer gates at once!”
The great castle of Cabochon was not normally this alert so early in the morning. Boots scuffed and clicked along hallways, sheaths and chain mail rattled, orders were barked out, and “aye, sir” clipped back in chorus. Doors slammed, and the whoosh and whir of Griffins’ wings disturbed the air. All too intent on the problem at hand to take much notice of anything else, those awake in the castle were oblivious to the beauty of the morning.
From over the Bay of Dirías, the sea breezes stirred the thick curtains and mingled the scent of salt and dew-dampened earth with the perfume of climbing honeysuckle. Inside the castle, the morning sunlight fell in slanting rays across the marble floor and pushed back the shadows that clung behind pillars and staircases and around corners. One shadow, however, did not move as the other shadows did, curving away from the sunbeams, but in its own direct course. As the sun rose higher and the air grew warmer, it passed soundlessly up from the lower levels of the keep towards the inner castle’s larger towers. Whenever Royal Centrinels or guards rushed past, it slipped out of sight behind pillars or heavy damask window curtains. But the castle was awakening. Soon more than silently intent soldiers would be afoot.
Careful now! The shadowy, grey-cloaked figure licked its lips and leaped down from a windowsill to hasten on. You mustn’t be caught! Only a few flights of stairs and a hallway left to go.
Outside, the sky was flushed with pink and faint gold over the white-flecked sea far below the castle, and a ray of sunlight foraged through the window into the darkness of the staircases and halls. A glimpse of steel caught the light under the figure’s cloak but was swept out of sight again as the figure adjusted the hood to hide its face more effectively. All around, the sounds of disturbance in the castle grew louder, shouted commands echoed down the hallways themselves, and the castle bell in the northern tower rang out the hour of five in ripples of silver music. At the sound, the shadow jumped, heart leaping, and ran up the staircase, only to stop short. Footsteps were coming. Footsteps and the merry sound of a few bars of whistled music. Across the eager face, half-hidden by the dark hood, a smile flashed for a moment, before the cloaked one leapt forward to disappear into the shadow of another flight of stairs just ahead.
He is coming!
The footsteps drew closer.
In the dark of the stairwell, the cloak rippled and shifted, and there came a soft hissing, metallic sound. A bright, metallic gleam shone for a minute, straight and silver, before slipping behind the cloak again.
Now the sound of swishing cloth could be heard accompanying the footsteps.
Wait for it.
The shadow crouched down and took a silent step forward, the fingers of one hand just reaching the end of the stairwell where it met the hallway. The breathing of the approaching walker could be discerned. Under the cloak, the shadow’s heartbeat throbbed like a drum. A moment later, a young man appeared before the stairwell.
The grey-cloaked figure leapt out into the corridor, and the silver gleam flashed and hissed through the air. With a gasp, the man flung himself backwards out of the way, crashing over a carved chair and thudding against the wall behind him. Just as swiftly, the cloaked shadow jumped forward and whipped the sword point up to his chest. For a moment the young man, his green eyes wide, stared wildly, holding his breath. Then all at once his face broke into a grin, and he relaxed, laughing.
“Rheúlea! If Leiarah sees you with that, you’ll be locked in a tower for sure!”
The hood of the grey cloak slipped back, revealing a graceful girl in an embroidered nightgown and, judging by the state of the buckles, hastily pulled-on boots. The sunlight turned the girl’s golden-red hair to fire as she smiled at the man. She lowered the sword from his chest to weigh it in her hand and let the sunbeams dance along the blade.
“It’s a lovely birthday present, Valrient!”
“I’m glad, but I’d rather it not be confiscated from you the moment you get it.” Valrient flicked her snub, freckled nose. “Ambushing people and swinging it under their very noses! You’re going to get me in a lot of trouble if you don’t take better care of hiding what I’ve had the nerve to give you. This morning most of all. I’m surprised you weren’t found on your way back from the armory.”
“I knew it would be something like this. You waking me up so dreadfully early and telling me to go down to the armory gave it away. It’s beautiful! The perfect weight for me to use and everything.” Rhea held the sword closer to her face to inspect the elegant, scrolled hilt, where her initials were inlaid with gold. “And I know more about the castle than a few recruits do. Any idea as to why they’re in such a flurry so early? And why are there so many of them?”
“I’ve no idea, I’m afraid. It could be training that I wasn’t notified about.” Valrient shrugged as he straightened from righting the chair knocked over in his surprise of earlier, but the way he cleared his throat and pulled at his collar did not let this answer satisfy Rhea.
No matter. Rhea smiled to herself. It’s my birthday, after all. There are bound to be surprises I’m not supposed to know about.
Pretending not to have noticed anything curious, she shrugged and took her brother’s hand. But when she began walking back in the direction he had come, towards the Royal Apartments, he didn’t move. Instead, he pulled back. “Let’s not go up to your room quite yet.”
“Why not?”
“Er,” Valrient hesitated. “I-I think Leiarah is … preparing something for you. Don’t ask,” he added. “It’s your birthday, you remember.”
“Ah, yes. Then I’ll not plague you. I’m incredibly placid on my birthday, you know.”
Valrient laughed as they began strolling in the opposite way down the hallway, swinging their clasped hands between them.
“Then you’ll forgive me for waking you up so early on your birthday, hmm?”
“Of course. Waking early for such a lovely present is nothing!”
“You’ll have to keep waking early if you wish to use it. Leiarah did banish you from fencing, didn’t she?”
“Aye,” Rhea sighed, sheathing the sword. “She says ladies taking part in fencing is looked down upon in other countries. Which shouldn’t bother her, I think, as a princess being given a sword is strictly a Gemworthian tradition. ‘Every princess in the royal family of Gemworthy, since the very first king and queen, Kierfk the Swordhanded and his wife Aéna the White-Robed, sat on the throne, had been given a rapier and taught how to hold it. In the first few generations following King Kierfk, this action was necessary for protection. But soon the dangers wore off, the kingdom of Gemworthy became secure and peaceful, and the princesses wore their inlaid swords like curious jewelry instead of weapons.’” Rhea rattled off, quoting history lessons that had been pounded into her head since a young age. “Even princesses who married into our family were ceremonially given their own swords like I was four years ago, so I don’t understand why Leiarah dislikes my having one.”
“You’re the first in a long time to actually use your sword, Rhea.” Valrient smiled and then changed the subject when Rhea pouted her lip in her all-too-familiar way. “How have you been of recent? We couldn’t talk much last night when I arrived, as it was so late, and the last letter I received from you was two months ago. You’ve been well?”
“Well enough, I suppose.” The pout grew more pronounced on Rhea’s face.
“Found that being the little princess has some disadvantages mayhap?”
“If by disadvantages you mean a score of tutors, then aye, indeed.”
“Ah, so you’re becoming a scholar as well, then?”
“Not anywhere near as agreeably as you did though. You fenced and rode and had such a jolly time in the Erudithall, and now you’re off playing ambassador to all the Open World. I must sit still and embroider flowers onto a tapestry and learn pages and pages of the most dull books. Everything I get from them seems as helpful and interesting as the dust that comes off them when they are opened.”
Silence for a moment, then Valrient lifted Rhea’s chin with his finger and whispered, “I know you though, little princess. You look as serious as a Centauride chieftainess, but I know under that grave face, you’re laughing, for you’ve been riding and hawking and aiming at the archery butts, now haven’t you?”
Rhea’s face dimpled. “Don’t tell anybody.”
“You little shieldmaiden! How Lady Leiarah would flutter and cry aloud to see us now. And now you’ve got a sword.”
He chuckled, and Rhea looked up into his face. It was flushed, and yet he grinned broadly.
“I’ll just blame you if she scolds me for having it,” she laughed. “I know you’re glad you’ve given it to me.”
“I confess I am. I see nothing wrong with a lady fencing, for it’s a good thing for one to know how to protect herself,” Valrient said, frowning slightly.
“Lady Leiarah won’t take that as an excuse. I’ve nothing to protect myself from!”
“Hmm,” Valrient grunted.
He’d stopped as they reached the end of the wide hallway, carpeted in sun-bathed red and blue, leading up to the rooms of the royal family. Directly opposite stood a large window, one of many along the hall, and through it they could see down into the innermost of the three courtyards of the castle. Though the hour was early, already a large number of people moved through the paved area, some on horseback, some in carriages, and many with entourages dressed in armor that glittered in the morning light. There were many more guards on the walls and towers than normal, though, and they were moving about the courtyard. Overhead flew Griffins of various kinds – broad-winged Hirrietas, mottle-coated Aequires, and wiry Lawtirrin – who swept through arched doorways and over rooftops. They too wore armor that caught the sunlight, but many also bore leather packs like saddlebags, bearing important messages and items from all over Gemworthy.
As Rhea watched, four burly Griffins carried between them a large bundle over the northwestern wall and deposited it among a knot of soldiers and officers on the embattlement. She wondered if this fact was connected to the disturbance earlier, then put it from her mind with another knowing smile, a shiver of excitement tingling through her. Lately, she had seen little else but people, who arrived in the courtyard and moved slowly but steadily towards the great arched doorway leading into the castle itself, and many mysterious packages arrived with them. Avoiding the temptation to spy on what she assumed were her birthday presents, she turned to her brother. To her surprise, he was frowning at the courtyard like a testy thundercloud.
“Whatever’s the matter, Valrient?”
He started as if from deep thought and ran a hand through his hair, which was the same color as Rhea’s, but darker. “What? No, nothing’s wrong.”
“I am not convinced.” Rhea put her hands on her hips and tossed her curls. “You could never trick even the simplest kitchen maid that you hadn’t taken a tart when we were little, Valrient. Tell me what’s wrong!”
Valrient shoved his hands into his pockets and sighed. “No, I’d rather not tell. It would spoil your pleasure in your birthday.”
“You’re spoiling my pleasure anyway.” Rhea frowned up at her brother. “Tell me.”
She tugged at his sleeve. “I’m the princess, and I’m ordering you to tell me!”
Valrient shook his head. “And I’m the prince who is both older than you and the second in line to the crown, and I’m ordering you to stop asking me. You don’t want to have a tiff on the morning of your birthday, do you?”
“We won’t if you tell me.”
“I’m not going to, and that’s final.”
“Very final?” Rhea tilted her head to one side and smiled so sweetly that honey was vinegar in comparison.
“Absolutely. And don’t you start seething!” he added, throwing up one hand.
“I won’t,” Rhea sighed, smoothing her cloak over her nightgown. “After all, it probably is just something about that last present that arrived, and I don’t want to ruin any more surprises you might have for me,” she added on a whim.
But her hope of rattling her brother’s defenses struck a deeper blow than she’d expected. At mention of “the present,” he stiffened so suddenly it startled her, but she pounced upon the action with vigor.
“Hah! So it is about the present! What is it? Is it another thindring? I’ve wanted a white one for a while,” she pressed, thinking wistfully of a new addition to her small pet herd of the delicately built, single-horned, deer-like creatures from which the legends of unicorns had sprung.
“Ah, no.”
“It needed four Griffins to carry it. So it’s something either heavy or fragile. And it’s precious enough to need to be guarded.” Rhea pushed her hands into her curls, blue eyes bright with the challenge of guessing, then frowned thinking of all the officers gathered to receive the mysterious package. “It’s what this fuss among the centrinels and guards is about, isn’t it?”
Valrient didn’t look at her.
“It is!” she crowed, bouncing so that one unbuckled boot flew off her foot.
Her brother bent to pick it up, but she knelt with him, slipped her arm through his and nuzzled him affectionately. “Come on, Rie, tell me!” she begged, using the pet name she’d given him for extra persuasion. “Please! I’ll pretend to be surprised when I get it later, I promise!”
Valrient put his free hand over his eyes and moaned. “I told them I wasn’t the best person to guard you!”
“Guard me? What in the Open World are you talking about?” Rhea straightened.
Valrient dropped to sit on the carpet and toyed with her boot. She sat with him, her nightdress forming a lacy circle around her. “If you don’t tell me, I shall plague you for the rest of the day.”
“I know, and that’s what I told them.”
“Told who?”
“Father and the guards. ‘She’ll listen to you,’ Father said. Aye, you listened when I told you to go down to the armory to get your present, and I’ve managed to keep you safe down here so far, but you’ve got precious little respect for your older brother aside from that, don’t you?” Valrient grinned ruefully, putting his arm around Rhea, who shook her head and laughed, scooting closer to him as if he were a storyteller getting to the most gripping part of a tale.
“Why did Father send you to protect me?”
Valrient kicked at the carpeting with the heel of his boot and cleared his throat. “There was a Phoenix outside the castle.”
“A Phoenix? A Phoenix?” Rhea sat bolt upright. “But, that hasn’t even happened since … since I don’t even remember!”
“Exactly.” Valrient nodded, picking up her foot and stuffing her boot back on it. “And for good reason too. The last time they were in Gemworthy was during the Great War, and they’ve been outlawed from here since by peace treaties. Nobody knows what a Phoenix appearing so close to Cabochon now could mean.”
“What happened? When was it seen?”
“Our Griffin guard sensed it earlier this morning, about an hour ago, and tracked it down. I saw it myself from the ramparts on the eastern wall. The Griffins tried to get it to surrender, but it fought back and tried to flee. So they killed it. It had forfeited its life by coming here against the treaty’s conditions.”
“And … and you were sent to get me from my room to go downstairs?” Rhea asked after a startled pause. “To keep me from seeing any of this happening?”
“And to keep you safe – Phoenixes are dangerous. Some can burn down entire houses, and we didn’t want to chance you getting hurt. Your bedroom is one of the highest points of the castle, you remember.”
Rhea nodded, surprise and disappointment mingling inside her. I could have seen a Phoenix.
Outside the window, the tolling of the castle bell announced the half hour. Valrient tugged at his collar, cleared his throat, and slapped his knees with his hands.
“Come on. Your ladies-in-waiting will probably be going into your room to wake you soon, and it’d work better if you were actually in bed. And it’d be good if we could keep this Phoenix business quiet for a while, if possible. So let’s get you back to your room.” He stood, then held out his hands to help Rhea up.
“I’ve got to hide my sword too.” She nodded, then clutching his hands, whispered, “What did it look like, the Phoenix?”
“Oh, come on. What else?”
“Something like an a big, angry hawk, but I can’t tell you much more. It was too far away for me to see clearly.”
“Pity you aren’t an Elf, then,” Rhea pouted.
Wrinkling his nose, Valrient was about to reply to the quip when he suddenly stiffened, laying a hand on her arm. “Hush!”
“What is it?”
Valrient put up his hand and looked over his shoulder, and Rhea, holding her breath, made out the sound of footsteps and voices approaching from farther down the hallway. She recognized several of the voices and clutched her grey cloak.
“Oh dear. They’re some of my birthday guests, I think. If they see me dressed like this, Lady Leiarah will weep with disappointment for a fortnight about my impropriety!”
“And they’d be sure to find out your sword in the meantime.” Valrient bit his lip and glanced all around as the footsteps grew louder. “Well, Rhea, don’t stand about, run! If I can, I’ll stall whoever it is. Remember though, don’t tell your ladies-in-waiting about the Phoenix, if you can help it!”
Rhea stood on her tiptoes and kissed her brother’s cheek. “I won’t! The sword is lovely too and worth running about in a nightgown for.”
Then she gathered up her cloak and nightdress skirts and sprinted down the hallway, the carpeting muffling the sound of her boots. She clutched the sword in its sheath close to her, the cool weight of it pressing against her beating heart. Down one turn and then another she hurried, darting into an adjacent corridor with the confidence of familiarity, pausing only a moment at each opening of the ways to check if all was clear.
At length, she reached the last hallway leading to the Royal Chambers – she could see the bright sunshine through wide windows at the end of it. Hitching up her nightgown, she sped on towards the light. When she reached the opening of the hallway, however, she stopped again, trying to keep her labored breathing quiet, and peeped out. This was a crucial spot.
The hallway led out into one of the upper balconied floors of a large room with a painted, arched roof, and the eastern wall comprised of sweeping windows. Through these, the scene of the city of Cabochon lay, gold, brown, and white amid the tender green of spring and framed alongside the deep glittering waters of the bay, reflecting back the clear sky and the risen sun. The view, high on the hillside, was spectacular, but Rhea didn’t bother to admire it. Since this room was so large and opened to the other floors, she might be seen by anyone on the balcony above or strolling around the fountain and potted ferns below. There were several large jars of these ferns near the doorway where Rhea stood, and she crouched behind them on the carpeting and listened.
I don’t hear anything. Nobody must be coming.
She took a deep breath, jumped up, and turned sharply around the potted ferns, only to run straight into a brown-haired girl in a red dressing gown. The girl gave a little scream, as Rhea tried to thrust the sword out of sight behind her. Both of them crashed against the marble wall behind, clutching to each other to keep from falling over.
“Rhea!” The girl swung her long braids behind her back and smoothed her skirts. “Where have you been? I came with your stepmother to make sure you weren’t disturbed by all the commotion among the guard, and we found nothing but your bed left in a positive uproar!”
“Oh, Hiylienea, I’m dreadfully sorry about that! I didn’t hear you, this thick carpet, you know, and I-I was just …” Rhea slumped her shoulders, and her cloak fell down to cover her front, but not quickly enough.
“You’re wearing your fencing boots?” Two bright spots of red flushed Hiylienea’s cheeks, and she put a hand to her mouth. “What do you have behind your back?” She said it seriously, but her brown eyes were sparkling.
“Very well, I’ll tell you, since you seem to find out everything I do anyway.” Rhea pulled back the cloak to display the sword. “Valrient gave it to me!”
At the sight of the sword, Hiylienea burst into laughter, shaking her head. “It seems to me you were never meant to be a princess, Rhea!”
“I think it suits me exactly,” Rhea grinned, “because I can order you to learn to fence with me now.”
“Oh, mercy no, Rhea.” Hiylienea sobered. “Archery is enough for me, and if you tried to teach me anything more unladylike, I’m sure Lady Leiarah would put an end to it.”
“Ah, just as well.” Rhea sheathed the sword again after a last loving inspection of its glassy blade. “You’re better than I am at archery, so it’s only fair for me to be the master hand of fencing alone.”
“I’m glad you think so; it will save me a deal of trouble. Speaking of which, I think it would be best if you got to your room.”
“The wisest thing you’ve said this morning, which is saying a great deal.” Rhea nodded, and bending her head close to her friend’s ear, she whispered, “And I know what all the fuss is with the guards! It’s a Phoenix!”
Valrient might have told her not to tell her ladies-in-waiting, but he’d said nothing about not telling her companion. Arm in arm, they hurried along the balcony, Rhea whispering the news as fast as she could, the high ceilings echoing softly back the two girls’ excited gasps and giggles. Rhea had hardly finished the tale, however, when the sound of other voices interrupted Hiylienea’s surprised response.
In the short time Rhea and Hiylienea met and spoke, several people, to judge by the sound of the footsteps, had approached the open room on the floor below, and they were now almost directly underneath the two girls. With a little squeak, Rhea flattened herself against the wall away from the balcony edge and pulled Hiylienea with her.
“They can’t see my sword!”
So, squished between a pillar and a resplendent suit of armor on display, the two held their breath and listened.
“I wouldn’t worry about her, dearest,” a gruff masculine voice said, and Rhea’s eyes widened.
Papa? She peeped around the large shield of the suit of armor, half of her wanting to hurry down the stairs and run to him. He is here, not in the Great Hall, like he usually is? Ah, yes, for my birthday, of course. Dear Papa!
Then Lady Leiarah, Rhea’s stepmother, answered, “But I did so wish to start her birthday out as happily as could be managed. This rumor of a Fallen isn’t helping anything. It is always a trial, turning seventeen, and I think it would be easier for everyone if we made her as comfortable and pleased as we could. When one is happy, one is easier to be with, you know.”
“I do not think the rumor is threatening. And she knows little of these tidings, so why do you fear?”
“You never told her?” Leiarah’s voice grew higher, and Rhea felt a strange shrinking feeling deep inside, while at the same time her heart seemed to swell.
What are they talking about?
She exchanged a quick glance with Hiylienea, whose wide eyes mirrored her own surprise.
“Ah, how could I, Leiarah? When … when Alexandrite died, my daughter was the closest thing to her I had.” King Gromweill’s voice grew gruffer, and he cleared his throat. “I could not bear the thought that I would someday be required to give her away. Such a thing does not grow easier with time either. And there hasn’t been a princess born into our family in such a long time.”
“Very true. I do not blame you,” Leiarah murmured. “Rhea is a gem, a little in need of polishing, it is true – though we are all like that in some way – but there is beauty in her.”
“Then why do you worry about how she will take to the proceedings?”
“She is, as I said, in need of polishing.”
“But you told me only a fortnight ago she was coming along well.”
“She is, to be sure, but not quite as forward as I could wish. Her companion, Hiylienea, has helped. She will be with Rhea throughout the week; I have made sure of it.”
Rhea turned to Hiylienea again and nudged her, whispering, “What’s this?”
Hiylienea shook her head. “I was told by Queen Leiarah to be ever near you during the feast, but since that is what I do every day, I thought little of it.”
Down on the floor below, Gromweill appeared, pacing along with his hands behind his back and studying the floor. He was not a particularly imposing man or even an attention-demanding one, but sturdy and square, with mild blue eyes and the same stubborn nose as Rhea’s. His light brown beard, however, was streaked with grey. Beside him glided Lady Leiarah, satiny and ruffled with lace, her black hair a great coil at the back of her head, one hand resting on Gromweill’s arm. They went up to the fountain, and Leiarah sat on its wide stone edge and rested her hands on her lap, as the king stood and absently ran his hand along one of the huge ferns.
“You are worried as to how she might react then, dear?” he asked.
“Yes, I am. Of course, it will be affected by who it is, but I think even you must admit she is strong willed.” Leiarah smiled, her oval face dimpling. “I remember being like that.”
“Who it is, you say? And who do you think it will most likely be?”
Leiarah opened the embroidered purse she carried with her at all times and procured from it a small book. Opening to a place marked with a ribbon, she studied the page. As she did so, Gromweill sat down beside her and looked over her shoulder. After a moment, Leiarah touched the page with her finger.
“Him. I believe he will be the one.”
“Crown Prince Ohnferead Randerrin Leovarne of the Avrinn Isles,” Gromweill read aloud after fishing his spectacles from his pocket and putting them on.
At her elbow, Rhea heard Hiylienea whisper, “Prince Ohnferead? Who is he?”
“The Crown Prince of the Avrinn Isles, apparently,” Rhea muttered. “And I wonder what they want with him.”
“What? Why?”
“I met him once … when I was four.”
“What was he like?”
“Stiff as a spear and a rival of one’s friendliness.” Rhea wrinkled her nose as she remembered the tall, lanky boy with fair hair and blue eyes that had looked down at her with nothing more than extreme boredom.
“Oh come, Rhea, he is bound to have changed in thirteen years.”
Rhea shrugged and held up one finger for silence when her father spoke again, as if coming out of a muse. “I suppose there is something in that. The Avrinn Isles are a lovely place, and the Royal Court quite lively enough in a genteel way. Ohnferead may do, yes.”
“That may be, but Rhea’s conduct will, without doubt, affect the turnout,” Leiarah sighed, packing away her book in her purse again.
“Surely she knows how to present herself at a feast!” Gromweill chuckled. “She has been to so many I’ve lost count.”
“Yes, no doubt of that. But this is not an ordinary feast, and if anybody finds out about all the things she used to do, it could be rather disastrous. Like my brother used to say, her actions up to a few years ago really were quite irregular.”
Rhea remembered a conversation between several of the courtiers outside the Great Hall after her sword-receiving ceremony years ago and pursed her lips. A heavy sensation of dread was beginning to grow in her, but why she could not exactly tell.
“I don’t see how those things will affect the turnout of this feast.” Gromweill stroked his beard.
“Mayhap they won’t at first, but given time they will. It will be helpful for her own good, for her to learn to outgrow those childish, flighty pastimes and become the young woman she now is. Sometimes I shudder to think of what you allowed her to do, Gromweill, even if they were kindly meant: fencing and riding astride …” Leiarah made a noise as if the mere thought of what Rhea used to do (and still secretly did) was as overwhelming as lifting a hundred stone weight.
“It wasn’t laudable, I realize that now.” Gromweill shook his head, but he was smiling slightly.
“Well, marriage always helps people settle down.” Leiarah patted his arm. “And if everything goes well at this feast, I’m sure Rhea will be on the way to becoming a real credit to you.”
Rhea blinked hard, shock tingling through her, and she dimly heard Hiylienea beside her gasp, “Oh my goodness!”
She didn’t wait to hear another word. She didn’t want to hear another word. Grabbing Hiylienea’s hand, she sprang from behind the suit of armor’s shield and made a run for it. A surprised cry from Leiarah made her heart try to leap out of her body, but she ran the faster, clattering up the stairs and down the hallway beyond, pulling Hiylienea with her. The sword banged against her legs, and Hiylienea tripped on the train of her nightdress, but she didn’t stop. The words spoken by her father and stepmother rang in her mind so much like those she had heard before in that same wide room years ago. She didn’t like to remember that discussion, and what she had heard.
Rhea had finished her fencing lesson and was trotting back to her bedroom to change when she heard angry voices in the room below and stopped short, staring out the wide window at the city spread on the hillside, and listened hard. Her brothers always collapsed with laughter when she mimicked any of the courtiers, and this heated conversation held the promise of many good applause-catching lines.
“This won’t do!” The broad, nasal voice was none other than the chamberlain’s, the big man who could as much fill a room with words as his body could a doorway.
Rhea dropped to her knees, crawled across the carpet, and stopped behind a pot of ferns to peep through the carved railing at the cluster of noblemen below.
“Look at the princesses in the Avrinn Isles or of Marrien, and remember the ones who married our princes!” the minister for foreign affairs moaned. “None of them ever used a sword … this conduct is most irregular.”
Rhea stuck her tongue out at the minister.
“Swordmaidens have long been a large part of our history.” The royal recorder gathered his fur-lined robes about himself and sat down to stroke his short, grey beard. Rhea smiled at him from behind the ferns.
“Of our history, aye, indeed they have, but not of the present. Things are no longer the way they were long ago.” The blustering chamberlain strode up to him. “Great evil was present in the time of Kierfk and Aéna.”
“Great evil is always present, my lord,” the royal recorder sighed. “One always lives in danger of it.”
“Aye, aye. But you understand my meaning. In the time of the First Order of Knights, the evil Fallens outnumbered our kinsfolk, the Fey, by great numbers. It was a time of war. Now there is peace in Gemworthy. There is no need of swordmaidens!”
“That is true.” The recorder shrugged. “But if the king sees no harm in our Princess Rhea’s actions, why should we? We must all agree that he found having his daughter involved in the same activities as his sons and even himself to be a bonding feature.”
Rhea began to feel that this conversation wasn’t quite as amusing as she’d hoped it would be.
“Because, as mentioned before, it is most irregular!” The chamberlain now looked very red in the face and sat down, breathing heavily. “The princess is fast approaching the age where she shall become eligible for matrimony. A royal engagement is hard enough to happily arrange without adding the complications of a very untraditional princess to it.”
“Uncommonly close to the truth, you are.” The minister for foreign affairs blanched at the mention of royal engagements.
“What are we to do, then?” The lord chancellor rubbed his forehead.
“We must stop the princess’s irregularity.” The chamberlain threw up his hands adding, “Though, good Iridiris, twill be hard work.”
“How would you propose we do that?” The recorder folded his hands. “The king does not appreciate our meddling in his private family affairs.”
“He is the king, not a private person. To bring his daughter up properly is his duty to his country. I know he’s tried his best, but the queen’s death, Empyrean bless her, so soon after our princess was born did complicate things. Not having a mother, a queen, to raise a princess is a great loss.” The chamberlain shook his head, then stopped and lifted it to look at the minister for foreign affairs with a smile spreading across his ruddy face. “And if the king will not listen to us in this matter, we must find someone to whom he will pay heed.”
Rhea never did mimic that conversation for her brothers’ amusement. She never told anybody about it. And a year later, the marriage of King Gromweill to Lady Leiarah, sister of the minister for foreign affairs, took place at last. For quite a while, Rhea and her brothers had suspected the wedding would occur. Leiarah was the soft-faced woman with dark hair who laughed heartily, delighted in feasts, dressed more richly than any other lady in the court, and several years after the death of Queen Alexandrite, had begun to catch the eye of the lonely king. Rhea didn’t mind having Leiarah about.
“I’m not going to try to be your mother,” Leiarah had said to her just before the wedding. “But I do want to be your friend.”
And that was fine with Rhea – she’d never had a mother she could remember, and life had been enjoyable anyway. But the courtiers had other ideas.
“There,” Rhea heard the chamberlain whisper pointedly to the royal recorder, as they left the Great Hall after the wedding. “Now our Princess Rhea shall be properly brought up.”
But they forgot one thing as they rubbed their hands with contentment when Lady Leiarah ended the princess’s lessons in fencing, archery and riding, and replaced them with dancing, deportment, and sewing. They forgot the tapestries in their princess’s bedroom, where she saw them every morning when she woke and every evening as she fell asleep. They forgot the single great tapestry over the fireplace opposite her bed, where a woman with flaming hair tumbling about her shoulders stood tall and graceful with a gleaming sword, a real sword, a tool, a weapon, at her side.
They had named the little princess Rheúlea, gallant one like the ones of old, and they had forgotten it.
And now, Rhea shoved open the door and staggered into the middle of her tower bedroom. Panting, she stared up at the tapestry over her fireplace.
“Oh no …” she moaned, flinging off her cloak and sinking down onto her featherbed, which was still a tangle of counterpane from when she left it earlier that morning to search the armory for her present.
“Crown Prince Ohnferead!” was all Hiylienea could gasp out, and she repeated it several times, fanning at herself with one hand.
Rhea lay back on the bed and covered her face with her hands, the image of the young prince rising in her memory again. What would he be like now, thirteen years later?
“Oh, Lienea, I do hope people can change in thirteen years, like you said!”
“I’m sure he has.” Hiylienea wrung her hands. “How old was he when you met him?”
Rhea buried her hands among her red curls and screwed her eyes shut, thinking hard.
“Fourteen, I believe, or fifteen.”
“Well,” Hiylienea began feebly, “boys always seem very intolerable at that age.” Rhea glared at her, and Hiylienea stopped.
“Lienea, he’s twenty-seven now. That is ten years older than I am. He’s quite a man, and I’m… I’m just a girl!” Tears started up in Rhea’s eyes.
“Rhea, you’re seventeen today. Seventeen is a woman.”
“I don’t want to be!” Rhea scrubbed at her tears with her sleeve. “I don’t want to be a woman, if being a woman means being packed off to a prince like a piece of high-importance correspondence! It’s not right. In all the stories, the men go off and do marvelous things like saving people and getting knighted. They become heroes, and the ladies do nothing but sit about and get married, as if that was all we were fit for.”
“Rhea! Did your father and Leiarah sound as if they were doing anything of the sort? Didn’t you hear your father? He doesn’t want to give you away to anyone!”
“Then why doesn’t he stick to that, instead of breaking both our hearts? I want to stay here, at home, and be with you and all my things. I mean, I’ll get married someday, of course, but why now? And why him?”
As she said this, Rhea looked about her round tower room, rich and bright with the sunlight shining through the eastern window. Carved chairs stood before the fireplace and the marble bath with its embroidered curtains around on one side. The polished reading desk sat by the western window, groaning under its load of manuscripts, baskets of sewing, and trinkets. The tapestry representing one of her favorite stories, Aéna the warrior-princess of old, hung opposite her bed above the fire that now lay reduced to dead coals in the grate. For a moment, Rhea admired the tapestry. She relished how the tall, graceful woman depicted on it did not have, like most lovely ladies in tales, a faultless complexion or yellow streams of hair cascading down to her feet. Tied back from her face, pale red-gold hair fell over the shoulders of the woman in the tapestry, and her noble face bore, with a regal air, freckles. Rhea rubbed her nose, equally blessed, and smiled before sighing once more and sniffing.
What good is it? What good is it to be the first princess born to Gemworthy’s royal house in centuries, if all you do is leave and be wedded to a prince of a far-off country?
“Oh, Rhea, don’t fret about it, please.” Hiylienea sat down beside her on the rumpled bed. “It won’t help anything, and as you saw, your parents are already in a great deal of worry about it.”
“Hiylienea, I’m going to be engaged.”
Hiylienea twisted her hands together. “Well, it isn’t certain yet. There’s scores of people invited to this feast. There’s no guarantee that out of all of them Ohnferead is going to be the one you’re going to marry. If you even marry any of them,” she added quickly, when Rhea started up at her words.
“How would you like it, if your parents decided to pledge you to a man you know nothing about?”
“Well, I’m sure I wouldn’t like it. It is a frightening thought. But Rhea, your father loves you dearly, and when has he ever done something unwise or rash? If he does choose someone for you to marry, I’m quite sure it will be a good, honest man, for he’d never give you to anyone who would neglect you.”
“And your meaning is …” Rhea frowned.
“It’s been thirteen years since you met Prince Ohnferead. Just give him a chance. It doesn’t do any good at all to decide what you think of someone before you even meet him.”
“I have met him.” Rhea crossed her arms over her chest. “And that one time gave me enough to think of him for the rest of my life, thank you.”
“Oh come, Rhea.”
The princess did not say a word, but gave Hiylienea a hard look through her tumbled hair.
“Er, well, then you can distract yourself with your other suitors.” Hiylienea shrugged.
“Other suitors?” Rhea threw up her hands. “Hiylienea, it should be you getting courted, for with your romantic head and heart, they’d find a willing recipient of all the roses, ballads, and serenades they could supply!”
Hiylienea’s face flushed. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. You’re simply what a lady is supposed to be – sweet, gentle, and quiet. Which I’m not.” Kicking off her boots, Rhea unbuckled her sword belt and laid it across her lap, gazing at it ruefully. “You know, I have a bad feeling this feast will not go well.”
“Well, at least you can try and make it start well.” Hiylienea rose and moved across the room to where Rhea’s clothes were laid out and ready. “Why don’t you put your sword away, and I’ll help you dress. It will probably ease the shock of seeing you in your nightgown outside of your bedroom for Lady Leiarah, if she finds you dressed and decent.”
“She already saw me in my cloak and nightgown.” Rhea crossed her arms over her chest and glared jealously at the garb of Aéna the White-Robed in the tapestry; her attirewas elegant, yet entirely functional for a much-moving and sword-wielding young woman.
“Oh, come, Rhea.” Hiylienea tilted her head to one side and gave the sweet smile that dimpled her face. “If you don’t get dressed, you shan’t see the present I’ve got for you.”
Rhea leapt from the bed, almost dropping her new sword. “What is it?”
“Hide the sword, then you’ll see,” Hiylienea said as she poured rose water into the washbasin and set out towels and lavender soap.
Crouching down on the thick carpet, Rhea pulled from under her large white bed a battered wooden trunk enforced with gold-detailed metal bands and unlocked it with the key from the bedside table drawer. Inside, neatly folded, lay a variety of boy’s garments, from wide-sleeved shirts and tailored breeches to leather jerkins and a fur-trimmed cloak. Rhea tucked her pair of buckled boots into one corner of the chest, then laid the sword with its sheath and belt on top of the cloak. Giving it one last caress, she locked the trunk up and returned it to its hiding place.
“Nobody’s found your cache yet, I see.” Hiylienea looked up as Rhea finished this.
“No.” Rhea shook her head and smiled. “You’re still the only one – besides Valrient – who knows about it. I can’t fence in dresses, and I would be in a tight place if Leiarah found my uniforms of action.”
“Speaking of Lady Leiarah and dressing …” Hiylienea cleared her throat.
Rhea sighed and submitted herself to being laced into her silk gown, though she brightened when Hiylienea gave her the promised gift – a string of small pearls with a sparkling white gem set in gold in the middle. And despite her dark predictions, the day moved on to become better.
King Gromweill let the kingdom take care of itself for a few hours and ate breakfast in the royal sitting room with the rest of the family in honor of the day. And the entire family was there for once: Vair on holiday from his studies at the Erudithall in northeastern Gemworthy, the twins Saltire and Martlet home from their adventuring as errant-knights throughout the country, Valrient returned from an embassy to Marrien, and Crown Prince Reglann setting matters of state aside for a while, as their father did. Rhea was seated at her Papa’s side, and they all laughed and talked of everything that occurred while the two travelers were away, and Leiarah took the head of the breakfast table and served out the mulled wine.
Rhea began to feel turning seventeen wasn’t quite so trying when her father, stepmother, and brothers lavished her with presents. Gifts came pouring in from the guests of the upcoming feast as well: blue and red parrots and gold-threaded silk scarves from Marrien, delicate ivory carvings and silver jewelry from Theltain, jeweled trinkets from all the regions of Gemworthy, and even a pearl, almost as large as Rhea’s fist, from the Thalassic ambassadors who gathered in the waters of the bay below.
But then Leiarah noticed the castle bell ringing the time, and her hands flew to her face. “Just listen to how late it’s grown! My goodness, and there’s so much to prepare for tonight. Hurry now, Rhea, back up to your room. You’ll not be fit to be seen in the Great Hall if you don’t get started now!”
Rhea had never dreaded feasts before; dressing in her finest silk and brocade and jewels, dancing, and meeting new people had been a joy. But now, on the way back to her room for the long process of preparation, she stopped at the same window where Valrient had glared down upon the unwelcome arrival of the Phoenix and stuck her tongue out at the crowds below like a wild goose girl.
“Suitors! Suits me if they’d all go back where they came from! And without a bride!”
All afternoon Rhea was surrounded by ladies-in-waiting, who prepared her bath, dressed her hair with perfumed oils, and at last, as the sun began to redden in the western sky, began to dress her. They laced her into a sea-blue gown embroidered with jewels like stars and adorned her curls with an intricate electrum caul and crown – reserved for the very highest occasions – which glittered with opals and diamonds. Hiylienea, having undergone similar treatments in her chamber across the corridor, appeared in a red and ivory dress and accompanied Rhea down to the Great Hall.
“Please don’t be worrisome.”
“What makes you think I will be?” Rhea could hear music coming up from the lower levels of the castle, and excitement began to tingle through her.
“You know why … this feast …”
“Well, worrying doesn’t help anything.” Rhea shrugged. “And since this feast is all about my birthday, it’s bound to be good, and I don’t want to spoil it by worrying.”
Hiylienea sighed and straightened. “Good. I wonder who’s there already!”
The two girls bustled up their skirts and hurried to one of the balconies overlooking the Great Hall. The ponderous tasseled curtains provided a perfect hiding place for them to crouch behind and whisper their opinions on everything as the hall below began to fill with guests.
The hall was fascinatingly decorated, with the crystal chandeliers and wall candelabras all sparkling and shining, the light gleaming on the tapestries, the royal arms on display, and the gold and silver and cut glass on the tables. Dressed in rich brocade of every imaginable hue, lords, ladies, knights, and Fey sat or stood at the long tables, their laughing voices rising to the high, painted ceiling. To the left of the dais, where Rhea, her family, and a few select guests would dine, a group of minstrels garbed in the royal colors created a pleasing backdrop to the hubbub of conversation. Piquing her curiosity, there were also more of the Royal Centrinels than normal present, standing in their rigid military way about the hall. She accredited this to it being her birthday feast, but then remembered the commotion that morning among the guards and the Phoenix. This worried her only a moment, however, for the flow of arriving guests was much more amusing to observe. Every now and then the herald at the doors opposite the dais would bellow out the arrival of some preeminence.
There were the dukes of the eight regions of Gemworthy and their families, lords of the major cities, and knights of the high-ranking Gemstar order. Chieftains and chieftainesses of the Centaur tribes of the Gemworthian plains, tall and giant-like, and their smaller cousins from the Varshan hills entered next. Following were the Griffin captains from the National Guard and from the great Griffin colony-outpost in the mountains of the far northern border, Ternum Cataract. They strode along silently, big as horses but as graceful and silken-coated as giant cats with their great wings arched over their backs. Next came the Elf-regents from the tree-covered hills of the Korrwood and the southern shores, fair-haired and dressed in blue and silver and green. Guests were not limited to those from Gemworthy, however. Hailing from the north, across the Thuork sea, were Fían Headman and his wife. They took their seats beside the dusky-skinned Epari and Eparina of Marrien, who had travelled long from their far southern homeland to attend the occasion. Last of all came the guests from the Avrinn Isles. But before Rhea and Hiylienea could catch a glimpse of the people belonging to the names the herald shouted, they heard a cry behind them and turned to see a herald hurrying towards them.
“Ah, Your Highness!” He bowed, turning his plumed hat in his hands. “We have been looking for you everywhere … your royal father requests you to come to the doors of the Great Hall to enter with His Majesty and the rest of Your Highness’s family.”
As Rhea departed down the hallway, she caught the words of the herald’s announcement of the next guest.
“His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Ohnferead Randerrin Iltumír Leovarne of the Avrinn Isles.”
She felt Hiylienea reach out and give her hand a quick grasp. She glanced over to see her brown eyes fixed on her.
“Regal and sedate!” Hiylienea whispered as they reached the wide, arched doorway leading into the Great Hall, where King Gromweill, Queen Leiarah, and Rhea’s five brothers stood waiting. “It’s been thirteen years since you last saw him. Give him a chance!”

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Juice Lady's Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies by Cherie Calbom

What I Thought: I love the Juice Lady, Cherie Calbom. She has such great recipes, and she is such a great motivator. What a witness! I want to get healthy again, and Cherie has wonderful ideas on how to do so. Check out some of the juice recipes below. Make sure to click the photos to see the recipes better!

  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:

Siloam (January 8, 2013)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson for sending me a review copy.***


Cherie Calbom, MS, is the author of The Juice Lady’s Turbo Diet, The Juice Lady’s Living Foods Revolution, and Juicing for Life, which has nearly two million books in print in the United States. Known as “The Juice Lady” for her work with juicing and health, Cherie has taped HealthWatch for CNN and scores of TV and radio shows and has appeared in Shape, First for Women, Women’s World, Men’s Journal,Vogue, Quick & Simple, Marie Claire, and Elle Canada. Cherie earned a master’s degree in nutrition from Bastyr University, where she now serves on the Board of Regents, and has practiced as a clinical nutritionist at St. Luke Medical Center in Bellevue, Washington.

Visit the author's website.


Juice and smoothies are sweeping the nation! Why? They’re fruity, delicious, easy to make, and packed with powerful nutrition. It’s no wonder everyone is enjoying the convenience and great taste of these healthy meal and snack alternatives. Bring your blender or juicing machine into the twenty-first century with the most updated versions of Cherie’s recipes to be found anywhere—more than just refreshment, these recipes enhance your energy and boost your mental and physical health.

Product Details:
List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Siloam (January 8, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 162136030X
ISBN-13: 978-1621360308


The Juice Lady’s Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies


MORE AND MORE celebrities, athletes, and people of all ages and walks of life are turning to juicing and green smoothies to lose weight and to improve their overall health. Why? Because they have found that juicing is changing their lives—giving them more energy, better sleep, stronger immune systems, brighter skin, and a younger appearance. It’s even helping their bodies heal from a variety of ailments. Below is a testimony I received recently from someone who has read my books and come to me for counseling.

It’s been about a month since you last spoke with me. You may not remember me because you talk with so many people. But I will never forget you. I told you about the more than fifty pounds of fluid I had retained. Using both natural and medical prescriptions, I had not been able to get rid of that fluid. I have also not been absorbing my food. You told me not to worry about my diet because I already had a healthy one but to add a green juice drink with every meal. About three weeks before I spoke with you I started drinking pure cranberry juice every day, and that was helping with the fluid. Over the three weeks I lost fifteen pounds, but I would bounce back and forth with my weight. When I added the green juice drinks, it put my body in high gear. I have lost thirty pounds. The water weight is literally just falling off of me.

You have no idea how much better I am feeling. I have energy and can physically work. I have not had energy or felt good since my last baby was born twenty-five years ago. I have not been able to push my body to work for the last five years. Now I am splitting firewood and stacking it. I  shoveled rock for our drainage system in our yard. I can  clean my own house again. Yesterday I cleaned house and stacked two cords of firewood. If you haven’t stacked  firewood, let me tell you, that’s a lot of wood. And I can walk again. For the last two years I have been fighting just to walk up and down my short driveway, feeling totally exhausted  and in pain afterward. Now I am easily walking a mile and have energy to burn. I feel great and have no pain when I’m  finished. And my fibromyalgia pain is almost gone.
For the last five years I have been fighting to stay alive.
 Now for the first time in years I feel alive. I am no longer on Lasix and have cut back most of my nutritional  supplements. I was taking over $500 worth of supplements a month, and it was bankrupting us. Last year my doctor told  me to apply for disability because my body was dying. I  could no longer function. The naturopathic physician I used  to work for told me that my husband and I needed to accept  the fact that my body was dying. He told us to purchase  better health insurance and prepare for the worst. I wish he  could see me now.

Long story short, Cherie, I am so grateful to you for taking  the time to talk with me. I know you probably hear stories  like mine all the time, but for me it’s new and life saving.  Thanks for pointing me to the path of life. You have been  one of God’s blessings and a lifesaver in the most literal  sense of the word.

 I hope her story encourages you to juice every day. With more than four hundred delicious recipes, The Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies can help you change your life, just as juicing has changed the lives of thousands of people who have adopted this plan for themselves—people just like me. My life changed years ago when I discovered the healing, vitality-producing power of freshly made juices and raw and whole foods.

Sick, Tired, and Completely Toxic

I sat by the window in my father’s home in Colorado staring at the snow-topped mountains in the distance, imagining that people were enjoying the hiking trails; perhaps someone was climbing the mountain that day. It was early June and a beautiful, sunny Colorado day. I wished I had the strength to just walk around the block. But I was too sick and tired—I could barely walk around the house. I had been sick for a couple of years and just kept getting worse. “Would I ever be well again?” I wondered.

I had to quit my job when I turned thirty. I had chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia that made me so sick I couldn’t work. I felt as though I had a flu that just wouldn’t go away. I was lethargic and constantly feverish with swollen glands. I was also in nonstop pain. My body ached as though I’d been bounced around in a washing machine.

 I had moved back to my father’s home in Colorado to try and recover, but not one doctor could tell me what I should do to improve my health. So I browsed around some health food stores, talked with employees, and read a few books. I decided that everything I’d been doing was tearing down my health rather than healing my body. When I read about juicing and whole foods, it made sense. So I bought a juicer and designed a program I could follow.

I began my health program with a five-day vegetable juice fast. On the fifth day my body expelled a tumor the size of a golf ball. I was totally surprised that in five days this amazing result could take place. I never did have the tumor tested because I was too taken back and overwhelmed by the event. I just flushed it away.

I then continued to juice every day and ate a nearly perfect diet of live and whole foods for three months. There were ups and downs throughout. On some days I felt encouraged that I was making some progress, but on other days I felt worse. Those days made me wonder if good health was an elusive dream. I didn’t realize I was experiencing detox reactions—no one had told me about them. I was very toxic, and my body was cleansing away all the stuff that had made me sick.

But one morning I woke up around 8:00 a.m., which was early for me, without an alarm sounding off. I felt like someone had given me a new body in the night. I had so much energy I actually wanted to
exercise. What had happened? This new feeling of good health and vitality had just appeared with the morning sun. Actually, my body had been healing all along; it just had not manifested fully until that day. I felt such a wonderful sense of being alive! I looked and felt completely renewed.

With my juicer in tow and a new lifestyle fully embraced, I returned to Southern California and my friends a couple weeks later to finish writing my first book. For nearly a year it was “ten steps forward” with great health and more energy and stamina than I’d ever remembered. Then all of a sudden I took a giant step back.

The Night I’ll Never Forget

The Fourth of July was a beautiful day like so many others in Southern California. I celebrated the holiday with friends at a backyard barbecue. That evening we put on jackets to insulate against the cool evening air and watched fireworks light up the night sky. I returned just before midnight to the house I was sitting for vacationing friends, who lived in a lovely neighborhood not far from some of my family members. After such a full day I was in bed shortly after I arrived at the house.

I woke up shivering some time later wondering why it was so cold. I rolled over to see the clock. It was 3:00 a.m. That’s when I noticed that the door was open to the backyard. “How did that happen?” I thought as I was about to get up to close and lock the door. That’s when I saw him. Crouched in the shadows of the corner of the room was a shirtless young man in shorts. I blinked twice, trying to deny what I was seeing.

Instead of running out the open door, he leaped off the floor and ran toward me. He pulled a pipe from his shorts and began beating me repeatedly over the head and yelling, “Now you are dead!” We fought, or I should say, I tried to defend myself and grab the pipe.

Finally it flew out of his hands. That’s when he choked me to unconsciousness. I felt all life leaving my body. In those last few seconds I knew I was dying. “This is it, the end of my life,” I thought. I felt sad for the people who loved me. Then I felt my spirit leave. It felt as though it just popped out of my body and floated upward. Suddenly everything was peaceful and still. I sensed I was traveling through black space at what seemed like the speed of light. I saw what looked like lights twinkling in the distance.

But all of a sudden I was back in my body, outside the house, clinging to a fence at the end of the dog run. I don’t know how I got there. I screamed for help with all the energy I had. It was my third scream that took all my strength. I felt it would be my last breath. Each time I screamed, I passed out and landed on the cement. I then had to pull myself up again. But this time a neighbor heard me and sent her husband to help. Before long I was on my way to the hospital.

Lying on a cold gurney at 4:30 a.m., chilled to the bone, in and out of consciousness, I tried to assess my injuries, which was virtually impossible. When I looked at my right hand, I almost passed out again. My ring finger was hanging on by a small piece of skin. My hand was split open, and I could see deep inside. The next thing I knew I was being wheeled off to surgery. Later I learned that I had suffered serious injuries to my head, neck, back, and right hand, with multiple head wounds and part of my scalp torn from my head. I also incurred numerous cracked teeth, which led to several root canals and crowns months later.

My right hand sustained the most severe injuries. Two of my knuckles were crushed to mere bone fragments and had to be held together with three metal pins. Several months after the attack I still couldn’t use my hand. The cast I wore, which had bands holding up the ring finger that had almost been torn from my hand and various odd-shaped molded parts, looked like something from a science fiction movie. I felt and looked worse than hopeless. The top of my head was shaved, and my eyes were totally red and swollen. I had a gash on my face, a weird-looking right hand, terrorizing fear, and barely enough energy to get dressed in the morning.

I was an emotional wreck. I couldn’t sleep at night—not even a minute. It was torturous. I was staying with a cousin and his family, so there was no need to worry about safety from a practical point of view, but that made no difference to me emotionally. I’d lie in bed all night and stare at the ceiling or the bedroom door. I had five lights that I kept on all night. I’d try to read, but my eyes would sting. I could sleep only for a little while during the day.

But the worst part was the pain in my soul that nearly took my breath away. All the emotional pain of the attack joined with the pain and trauma of my past to create an emotional tsunami. My past had been riddled with loss, trauma, and anxiety. My brother died when I was two. My mother died of cancer when I was six. I couldn’t remember much about her death—the memories seemed blocked. But my cousin said I fainted at her funeral. That told me a lot.

I lived for the next three years with my maternal grandparents and father. But Grandpa John, the love of my life, died when I was nine. That loss was very hard. Four years later my father was involved in a very tragic situation that would take far too long to discuss here, but to sum it up—it was horrific. He was no longer in my daily life. I felt terrified about my future. My grandmother was eighty-six. I had no idea how much longer she would live. The next year I moved to Oregon to live with an aunt and uncle until I graduated from high school.

As you can probably imagine, wrapped in my soul was a huge amount of anguish and pain—it felt like gaping holes in my heart. It took every ounce of my will, faith, and trust in God; deep spiritual work; alternative medical help; extra vitamins and minerals; vegetable juicing; emotional release; healing prayer; and numerous detox programs to heal physically, mentally, and emotionally. I met a nutritionally minded physician who had healed his own slow-mending broken bones with lots of vitamin-mineral IVs. He gave me similar IVs. Juicing, cleansing, nutritional supplements, a nearly perfect diet, prayer, and physical therapy helped my bones and other injuries heal.

After following this regimen for about six months, what my hand surgeon said would be impossible became real. My hand was fully restored and fully functional. He had told me I’d never use my right hand again, and that it wasn’t even possible to implant plastic knuckles because of its poor condition. But my knuckles did indeed re-form primarily through prayer, and my hand function returned. A day came when the surgeon told me I was completely healed, and though he admitted he didn’t believe in miracles, he said, “You’re the closest thing I’ve seen to one.”

It was a miracle! I had a useful right hand again, and my career in writing was not over as I thought it would be. In the end it seemed my inner wounds were the most severe and the hardest to heal. Nevertheless, they mended too. I experienced healing from the painful memories and trauma of the attack and the wounds from the past through prayer, laying-on of hands, and deep emotional healing work.

I call them the kitchen angels—the ladies who prayed for me around their kitchen tables week after week until my soul was restored. It seemed I cried endless buckets of tears that had been pent up in my soul. It all needed release. Forgiveness and letting go came in stages and was an integral part of my total healing. I had to be honest about what I really felt and be willing to face the pain and toxic emotions confined inside, and then let them go. Finally, one day after a long, long journey—I felt free. A time came when I could celebrate the Fourth of July without fear.

A New Beginning

When I look back to that first day in the hospital after many hours of surgery, it’s amazing to me that I made it. My hand was resting in a sling hanging above my head. It was wrapped with so much stuff it looked like George Foreman’s boxing glove. My face had a big cut running down the left side, and my eyes were red—very little whites. A maintenance man came into my room for a repair and did a double take. He asked if I’d been hit by a truck! He was serious. I felt like I had. As I lay there alone with tears streaming down my face, I asked God if He could bring something good out of this horror. I needed something to hang on to.

 My prayer was answered. Eventually I knew my purpose was to love people to life through my writing, juicing, and nutritional information— to help them find their way to health and healing. If I could recover from all that had happened to me, they could too. No matter what anyone faced, there was hope.

Juice Recipes for Health and Healing

In the pages that follow, you’ll discover a wide variety of juices for every possible need and occasion. I have basic juice recipes for those who are getting started and want something simple. There are yummy fruit juice recipes for those with picky palates who want the sweet taste of fruit. Green juices are my favorite and offer the most nutrition; you’ll find a big selection of green juice recipes to choose from.

Check out the chapter on juice remedies and rejuvenators for juice combos that address what ails you. And I think you’ll really like the gourmet juice chapter that has a lot of unique combinations and delicious drinks. There’s also the green smoothie chapter with one hundred smoothie recipes and great combinations. And I also included my old favorites from The Juice Lady’s Turbo Diet and The Juice Lady’s Living Foods Revolution. Have fun trying some new and unusual combinations. There’s a lot to choose from with more than four hundred recipes.

And if you’re struggling with your health, there is hope for you, no matter what health challenges you face. Never, ever give up. There’s a purpose for your life, just as there was for mine. You need to be healthy and strong to complete your purpose. To that end, The Juice Lady’s Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies can help you live your life to the fullest. My hope is that this book of delicious recipes will truly inspire you to juice each and every day and that you will experience firsthand the healing, rejuvenating power of fresh juice and green smoothies.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

FREE Kindle Book of FAIRIES! Act Now!!!

In celebration of my book, F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire, winning the Bronze Medal for Readers Favorites in the Christian Fantasy category, I am offering free downloads for Kindle for THREE days!

Starting at midnight on Dec. 6th and going through Dec. 8th, 2012 you can download F.A.I.R.I.E.S. for FREE!

Please let everyone that you think may like it know. Share this on your page if you like. The more the merrier!

I also made corrections to the Kindle version: the German for the yeti's name is now correct AND the annoying question marks have been removed. Yay!

Go HERE at midnight to download it for FREE!

Devotions for a Revolutionary Year by Lynn Cowell

What I Thought: 

I work with pre-teens and teens for my church's youth group...and I write for young adults. I highly recommend this devotional. What a great variety of subjects this deals with! Not only does this have awesome daily devotions, it also has daily challenges, or as Lynn calls them, "Start the Revolution". For example: "Here's a reading project. Read all the words spoken by Jesus in the book of John." I just love those extra tid-bits. She also has short prayers for the reader to say at the end of each devotion. This would make a great Christmas gift for the young adult in your life.

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:

Standard Publishing; First Edition, None edition (September 4, 2012)

***Special thanks to Blythe Daniel for sending me a review copy.***


Lynn Cowell is a Proverbs 31 Speaker and Author. Her passion is empowering women to become wise and in turn, raise wiser daughters. She does this through her website at, writing articles for publications such as Focus on the Family's Thriving Family and Susie Mag, and devotions for Proverbs 31 Ministries, which has over a half a million subscribers. She loves investing in teens and adults by speaking at conferences across the country.

Visit the author's website.


Devotions for a Revolutionary Year expands on the themes of Lynn Cowell’s first book, His Revolutionary Love. In short, easy-to-read daily devotions, Lynn chats to girls about the challenges of growing up as a girl: identity and acceptance, rejection and rebellion, and self-control and surrender. Through Scripture and stories any girl can relate to, Lynn Cowell encourages girls to remember that Jesus loves them and is pursuing them every day—and that knowing his love day by day can make for one revolutionary year.

Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Standard Publishing; First Edition, None edition (September 4, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0784735700
ISBN-13: 978-0784735701



Revolutionary Love

Infatuation is a powerful thing. It has the power to make your mind, body, and heart soar. Then, faster than you can say your ex-boyfriend’s name, it can drop you, leaving you sick to your stomach.

There is something more powerful—revolutionary love. Love that is perfect, unconditional, stable. Love that is not based on what you did for it yesterday or what you can do for it in the future. This love is unlike any you’ve encountered. This love forgives and forgets the past while promising an amazing future. This love is Jesus.

If you are a girl who wants more—more confidence, more security, more hope—this is the perfect book for you.

This book isn’t going to radically change you. Only one book can do that—the Bible. My book simply gives you a diving board to help spring you into the pool of God’s Word, where you can swim by yourself!

I hope you’ve already read His Revolutionary Love: Jesus’ Radical Pursuit of You—that’s what we’re building on. But even if you haven’t, you can dive in with us now. For the next 365 days, we’re going to dig deeper into Jesus’ love letters to us. Don’t just read the devotions—I want you to get out your Bible; read the key verse each day, and read the verses before and after it. Take some time to figure out exactly what God is saying to you.

This year, we’re going to let God start the revolution in our hearts, making us radical girls who can change our world for his honor.

So glad to be on this journey with you!

Jesus, thank you for choosing us. Your love is what our hearts have always craved—the only love that can fill them. Change us. Make us radical so we can share your love with others. In your powerful name, amen.

1: How Much?

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

—John 3:16 (The Message)

What was at the top of your Christmas list last year? The newest boots? Apple’s hottest phone?

If you could ask for something that money can’t buy, what would that be? Your parents reunited? Your sister back home?

What extreme measures would you be willing to take to get your heart’s desire? Move to a new city and have your family start over? Sell everything to put your sister in rehab?

Would you die?

Would you die to see their lives changed?

Jesus’ answer was yes. He thought of you and what it would take for you to have new life in him. “Yes, I’ll die to make that happen,” was his response to his Father’s request.

Talk about love! Talk about a hero!

I responded to his yes by saying yes back. Yes to receiving forgiveness and choosing his way instead of mine. Yes to having him revolutionize the way I think, act, and live.

When he died, he proved how much he wants us—me and you. The real question now is, how much do you want him?

Show him you want him too. Take time this year to go after him. Learn how crazy Jesus is about you. And become crazy about him!

Start the Revolution

Read John 3:16.

Ask: Am I ready to say yes to God’s love for me?

Jesus, I am ready—ready to find out just how much you love me and to really love you in return. Help me
to come to you each day. I can’t wait to discover
more about you! Amen.

2: Absolutely Beautiful

Has anyone ever seen anything like this—dawn-fresh, moon-lovely, sun-radiant, ravishing as the night sky with its galaxies of stars?

—Song of Solomon 6:10 (The Message)

Have you ever heard of someone choosing his wife when he’s in sixth grade? Crazy, I know! That’s exactly what Greg did! He saw a girl singing a solo in church and wrote in his Bible, “I, Greg, will marry her—to be stopped by nobody!” If only he had known . . . she didn’t even know his name!

Sounds like the beginning of a long romance, right? Not! Greg found her number. Called a few times. After a bit, the crush burned out . . . for him. Not for her. Why? She didn’t even really know him. But she had wanted to be wanted, and he at one point wanted her. You know, it didn’t even have to be Greg. She just wanted to be wanted again.

That girl was me, and that crush crushed me. I asked myself, “What’s wrong with me? My body—my flat chest? My personality or faith?” Whatever it was, I felt ruined.

Have you ever been on the wrong end of a love equation? Guy + Me = Value?

The fact was, and still is, there was nothing wrong with me. There is nothing wrong with you.

Jesus tells me I am beautiful . . . every part of me. Maybe at that time I wasn’t Greg’s type. But in Song of Solomon, a book that is often used as a metaphor for God’s love for us, we read these words: “The feelings I get when I see the high mountain ranges . . .
remind me of you, and I’m spoiled for anyone else! Your beauty, within and without, is absolute, dear lover, close companion” (7:5, 6, The Message). Jesus loves my outsides and insides! (Sounds like Greg was the one missing out!)

Don’t let any guy define you. Don’t let his rejection or acceptance determine whether or not you think you are beautiful. The Perfect Love says you are absolutely beautiful; listen closely to that truth.

Start the Revolution

Look in the mirror and say: “Jesus thinks I’m beautiful.”

Jesus, you and your love are all I want
to define me. Amen.

3: Priceless

I paid a huge price for you. . . . That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to
get you back, trade the creation just for you.

—Isaiah 43:3, 4 (The Message)

When Prince William and Kate got married, it was like watching a Disney fairytale movie in real life. Except, perhaps, for all the press. Reporters commented on the price tag of everything—Kate’s gown, shoes, ring, flowers, etc. Until they came to the tiara.


That’s how they described her gorgeous headpiece. Given to Queen Elizabeth as a gift for her eighteenth birthday, this diamond tiara was on loan to the princess-to-be. No price tag could be put on the brilliant crown; it was impossible to replace. If it should somehow disappear, Scotland Yard would be all over London in a heartbeat.

In the end though, the tiara is still just a super fancy hat. A thing that can be lost or stolen.

That’s so very different from you. Why? Because
Jesus gave his everything, his very life, to make you his.

The girl who understands just how much she is wanted is a girl who can be fully confident—empowered to make every decision a wise one, because she knows her decisions matter. A girl who knows that she is priceless is a girl who will never settle for anything short of the best from the one who loves her the most. A girl who is sure that she is cherished and adored is a girl who no longer worries about herself; her focus is on sharing this radical love with all those she comes in contact with. You can be that girl.

Start the Revolution

Look up the price of the biggest diamond. You’re worth more than that!

Jesus—help me to get this message. Help me to
appreciate the price you paid for me. Amen.

4: You Belong

And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News
that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people.
He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

—Ephesians 1:13, 14 (NLT )

I couldn’t care less if Greg’s ring on my finger looked ridiculous. It made the statement: “I belong to him.”  That’s what mattered.

Have you ever wanted something that said you belonged? The softball team sweatshirt? The personalized chamber music folder? Your new dad’s last name?

You do belong. Just as Greg’s class ring was my identity marker, the Holy Spirit in you can be your identity marker. His presence says you belong to the one who is perfect and who loves perfectly too!

“How does the Holy Spirit do that?” you ask.

Here’s how I think it happens. Have you ever had a sense of the right thing to do? The Holy Spirit was leading. Ever had strength for something scary? The Holy Spirit brought his peace. Ever ready to explode, yet somehow you kept your cool? The Holy Spirit brought self-control.

Sometimes we don’t recognize him; we think it’s us. Just because we don’t recognize his voice and direction, that doesn’t make it any less him.

Most things in life we belong to come to an end. You and your boyfriend break up, cross-country season wraps up, and the curtains close on the play.

Not so with the Holy Spirit. He is one who never leaves, a season without end, and a play acted out eternally. Once you receive the Holy Spirit, you are forever his.

Start the Revolution

Design an infinity symbol sticker with the words “Holy Spirit”  in it.

Holy Spirit, today I’ll need something: an answer, or hope, or direction. Help me look to you and see your presence as my identity marker. I belong to you. Amen.

5: Treasured

“On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him.”

—Malachi 3:17

The tornado ruined everything. As Kim and Brenda approached the place that had once been their parents’ home, nothing was there. No front door. No furniture. . . . No parents. Everything was destroyed.

In the days ahead, possessions of their parents began to slowly surface. Papers in a field. A quilt in a tree. Each one was a treasure to my friends because each item represented what my friends no longer had.

I wonder if God ever feels that way about his creation. When he looks at the earth where selfishness and sin rule, does he ever feel brokenhearted over the destruction that lies where beauty once was?

On that day when Christ returns to the earth, we, his followers, will be his treasured possession. When he returns to the earth, the sight of us will bring him joy and comfort. The King James Version of Malachi 3:17 calls us God’s “jewels.”

Does your life reflect that you are God’s treasured possession? When God’s eyes roam the earth, does it bring his heart so much joy to see you—the jewel among the wreckage?

Once, I would have said no. A tornado of a broken relationship left a hole in my heart. I let my problems define who I was. Learning that God treasured me brought me hope, causing me to shine like the jewel he says I am.

You are his treasured possession. Today, look at your world through the eyes of someone who is deeply cherished.

Start the Revolution

Think of someone you treasure. Tell them about it today!

Spy on your life for the next twenty-four hours. How is God telling you “You are my treasured possession”? Make these revelations your prayer of thanks to him.

6: Real Peace

The tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and
in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.

—Luke 1:78, 79

Having just left my dying father’s hospital room, I searched in vain for my car in the parking deck. Twenty-four hours of visitation left me exhausted, both mentally and physically. It was my birthday, yet there wasn’t anything happy about it.

There is no way I could have prepared for that day; it’s a strange sensation to take care of your dad. Feelings of being robbed overwhelmed me. I was too young not to have a dad.

Climbing into my car, I felt tears streaming down my face. As soon as I turned the key, lyrics from the radio spoke of a day when going to Heaven would bring our new bodies—ultimate healing.

Jesus came into my car that day. He reached down into my pit of despair. He made it clear to me that he was real and Heaven is real too.

That peace stayed through the day Dad died, the day of his funeral, and every day since. His perfect love flowing down to imperfect me quiets the fear of the future and the pain of the past.

I know there are days when you feel that life is not fair, maybe even hopeless. At times like these, when we don’t feel Jesus’  love for us, our faith can be built stronger. We can learn to depend on him no matter how we feel.

Start the Revolution

What song brings you peace? Sing it today.

Jesus, no matter how I feel, help me to remember the peace you want to give me through your perfect love. Amen.

7: Eyes on You

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.

—Psalm 33:18

Isn’t it a strange feeling when someone is staring at you? Sometimes you can’t tell why. Is there something in your hair or on your shirt? You start to wonder, What’s wrong with me?

Today, my friend was staring at my mouth. Finally she said, “You have something green in between your teeth.” Ugh! How embarrassing!

Jesus stares at me too, but not like my friend! He is looking at me as one who fears him and hopes in his unfailing love. Fear in today’s verse is a good thing; it means “worship.” He looks at me because I worship him.

Verse 19 of this Psalm says his eyes are on his people “to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.”  His eyes are on me because he wants to take care of me and keep me from harm.

Jesus is looking at you today. He is fully aware of the situation you are in. He sees you feeling so alone in school. He knows you want so much to live for him.
He knows you struggle.

But even if you completely mess up today and make everyone mad and upset, his eyes are still on you. Not eyes of disgust at your shortcomings. Not eyes rolling as he thinks, She did it again?! His eyes are eyes of love. He wants to help you. He wants to keep you alive, not just in body, but in mind and spirit too.

Start the Revolution

Have a staring contest with a friend. Jesus can keep his eyes on you forever!

Let the truth that Jesus is looking at you with eyes of love give you strength. Thank him for having
his eyes on you.

8: Perfection

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

—1 John 4:18

“There is no way he could love me.” Allison had done a lot of stuff—bad stuff. Stuff she had grown up learning was wrong, and yet she had done it anyway.

Now her friend Lindsay was trying to tell her that Jesus loved her and still wanted a relationship with her. Allison just couldn’t believe that could be true. She knew what her parents would do if they found out; they’d kick her out. If her parents would respond that way, how could she expect anything else from a perfect God?

I’ll be the first to admit it: it’s hard to understand a love that loves no matter what. We fear coming to him in all of our mess. He is perfect and holy. We are not. It’s hard to fathom that no matter what we do, he will still love us and want to have a relationship with us.

That is why his love is so revolutionary. Nothing can taint it, because it originates from the one who is perfect. Knowing he loves us this way, because of what he has done and in spite of what we have done, gives us the confidence to come to him, even when we are messed up.

It is here, living in his love, that we are forgiven, given another chance, and eventually perfected. Yes, you heard me—I said perfected. That is exactly what the Father wants to do with you. He doesn’t want to make you just OK. He wants to take away your sin—those things that drive you from him—and perfect you, drawing you to him.

Start the Revolution

Try to draw a perfect circle. Write in the circle what to do to get closer to Jesus.

Jesus, I want to be rid of __________.
(Name the thing that separates you from him.)
Please forgive me and perfect me! Amen.

9: Poor in Spirit, Rich in Love

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

—Matthew 5:3

Poor in spirit. That sure doesn’t sound like something I want to be! I want to be confident and have great self-esteem. I want to feel good about how I look, be proud of what I do, and be surrounded by people who like me. Doesn’t everybody?

Michelle shared with me on Facebook: “Society wants us to be flawless. We compare ourselves to models. Now I know that Jesus thinks I am flawless. He knows me very well. . . . I don’t need to try to be perfect for anybody here on earth, because my heavenly Father has an unconditional love that can forgive anything. That’s what I love about Jesus. He loves me no matter what. It’s hard to try to live without noticing my ‘imperfections’ . . . I want Jesus to be my everything.”

Michelle was “poor in spirit,” but this was a great place to be! Why? It caused her to reach out to Jesus. Now what does she have? Confidence and a positive outlook that cannot be taken from her. Her hope is not based on her appearance, accomplishments, or attributes. Her confidence is in Jesus’ view of her as flawless (Song of Solomon 4:7).

Let’s get this straight—we all have flaws. (Yes, even those supermodels in the magazines.) We all make mistakes. We all sin. But when Jesus looks at us with his kingdom perspective, he sees who we really are and what we can be—what we are made to be. And that is flawless.

When we are helpless to feel good about ourselves, that is the perfect time for Jesus to come in with his truth. We can move from being girls whose lives are based on this passing world to girls who are focused on what lasts forever, the kingdom of Heaven. We can go from being poor imitations to experiencing the richness Jesus has to offer. This is when we truly become radical girls!

Start the Revolution

Avoid looking in the mirror today. Just be confident in Jesus’  view of you!

Jesus, I struggle a lot with my self-esteem. I want to believe the truth—that you see me as flawless. Amen.

10: Near

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been
brought near by the blood of Christ.

—Ephesians 2:13

Sad. No explanation. Just sad. There are times when I have wanted to climb back in bed, pull the covers up over my head, and just stay there. Because I have soaked my heart in God’s Word, it begins to talk to me: “Why are you sad? You have so much to be thankful for!” I know this is true. Yet sometimes it’s easier said than felt.

On hard days, I remind myself that although I change—my heart and mind swinging back and forth—Jesus’ love for me doesn’t. It is constant and stable.

Christ has already done all that needs to be done to draw me close to him. Whether my feelings tell me today that I am loved and Jesus is with me, or whether they lie and tell me I’m on my own and have no hope, it doesn’t change Jesus’ location. My feelings cannot move him away from me.

Paul told the Ephesians that all of us were “dead in transgressions” at one time. Another version puts it this way: “You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2, 3, The Message). But even when we were filled with sin, God took us in and, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, made us alive and drew us close to him again. We didn’t do anything to get God to do this for us, and nothing we do can change it. All we have to do is accept it. And if we do that, as Paul also wrote, then we are members of God’s household (2:19): “You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone.”

So on the hard days, when my emotions threaten to rock my world, I can cling to Jesus who is near and tell my feelings to quit lying. I belong with him.

Start the Revolution

Use a dry-erase marker to write on your mirror: “People in this mirror may be closer to Jesus than they appear.”

Jesus, no matter how I feel, please remind me
that you are near. Amen.

11: What He Sees

You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.

—Song of Solomon 4:7

“Is it true that guys are only attracted to you because of your looks? If so, I don’t have a chance.” My heart breaks as I listen to Carly’s words. She wants so badly to have a boyfriend, to have someone she likes, like her back.

I don’t really know how to answer Carly. After all, I’m a girl too. Yes, it is common knowledge that a guy is attracted by what he sees. The question is, how’s his vision? That is, is he able to see the real value of things, or does he just see what’s on the surface? It takes some training and some maturity to be able to see properly.

There is a guy who sees with perfect vision. Maybe you have never thought of Jesus in this way before, but he is a guy who sees you as you are and knows your worth.

What does he see? We’re given a glimpse of this in Song of Solomon 4:7. “You are beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless” (The Message). In another version, these words are “You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way” (NLT).

When he looks at you, Jesus sees the girl he created—his work of art! He sees the girl he died for—the girl he is passionate about! You may not feel perfect, but Jesus says you are to die for! Speak this truth every day! I know it may not help all the time (like when that guy you like walks right by you and asks someone else to dance), but if you get used to hearing the truth about yourself, you’ll believe it. And then you’ll act like a person who knows she is truly valuable—and that is attractive.

And while we’re on this topic, check your own vision. How do you look at guys? Can you see beyond face value? Practice looking at the world through Jesus’ eyes.

Start the Revolution

Check your eyes today. Are you seeing beyond the surface?

Jesus, thank you that you saw in me a beauty that
was to die for. Help me see that beauty too! Amen.

12: Let Him In

I slept but my heart was awake. Listen! My beloved is knocking:
“Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my flawless one.”

—Song of Solomon 5:2

“I feel invisible. Like I’m walking down the hall every day, seeing all the people and potential in their lives, but does anyone see me?”

Can you relate to my friend? I know you want others to see you; you want to be wanted. I can’t promise you that, someday, the group of friends you long to be a part of will let you in. I don’t know if one day the guy you’re crushing on will see you and text you.

What I do know is there is one who is doing all he can to get your attention. He hasn’t passed you by—he’s calling you every day, sending you messages, knocking on your heart’s door.

You might wonder, Why doesn’t he just come in? He could barge right through—I mean, he’s God!

Unlike some guys you may know, Jesus is a gentleman. He doesn’t barge his way into anyone’s life. Forced love is not love at all. Love is only valuable when it is offered freely and accepted freely.

Revelation 3:20 says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.” That’s pretty personal, at least at my house. We don’t let just any person come in and eat with us.

There is someone who sees you—someone who sees all your potential, all you were created to be. Say yes to his knocking. Stop wasting your time, thoughts, and talents worrying about people who haven’t noticed you. Focus your love energy on the one who loves perfectly in return.

Start the Revolution

Open the door to your room.

Imagine Jesus walking right in.

What do you do now?

Jesus, thank you for paying attention to me. Please come into my life and help me be all I can be. Amen.

13: For Us

What, then, shall we say in response to these things?
If God is for us, who can be against us?

—Romans 8:31

Math and I have always been archenemies. That’s no surprise; writers and numbers often don’t mix. The problem was, I had to have geometry to graduate. None of it made sense to me; I failed my first test. Handing me the paper with the red F, my teacher moved me to the back of the room. “Obviously you don’t get it, so that is where you belong.” I thought teachers were supposed to help you!

Are there days when you feel like everyone is against you? Even when you’re trying your hardest?

Been there. I’ve felt like a Tilt-A-Whirl at the fair, always spinning, spinning, spinning—trying to make (or keep) everybody happy. It was so exhausting! And worst of all, I wasn’t even sure who was the real me.

Until . . . I really got that God was for me. He wanted me, mess-ups and all. You know what happened when I got that he was for me? I stopped caring so much what others thought of me! At first, it was weird. I was so used to the anxiety of pleasing people. It didn’t take long, though, for me to enjoy the new peace!

Now, when I sense those old feelings coming up, I remind myself, “If God is for me, who can be against me?” I focus on pleasing the one who loves me perfectly, and let the Lord figure out the rest!

Start the Revolution

Say this out loud:

“If God is for me, who can be against me?”

Thank you that YOU are for me, Jesus! Amen.

14: Ugly Words

Whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye.

—Zechariah 2:8

The words on Facebook glared back at her. “You are so ugly! You are fat, annoying, and I hate you!”

Lindsay just sat there, staring at the screen, baffled. What did I say? What did I do?

Maybe this has happened to you, or in some way you’ve faced this same type of painful rejection. I recently spotted a T-shirt at the mall that read, “You’re no one until someone talks about you.” How sad! In a world where gossip fuels most of the popular TV shows, it comes as no surprise that mean defines many girls today.

How can we guard our hearts when someone makes us feel ugly?

Feeling unaccepted is nothing new. If you read through the whole Bible, you’ll find several characters who felt unloved or rejected. Even Jesus was “despised and rejected by mankind” (Isaiah 53:3).

Remembering who we are in God’s eyes counteracts the poison of meanness. When I know that I am accepted by God, I can deal with insults. How do you know what God says about you? Read it in his Word:

“My beloved is mine and I am his” (Song of Solomon 2:16).

“You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless” (Song of Solomon 4:7, The Message).

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9).

I put truth everywhere, so I can read it over and over again. When we feel rejected, these words remind us that we are accepted. But not just accepted—we are the “apple of his eye.”

Start the Revolution

Print out some of the verses mentioned here or save them in your phone. Put them where you can see and read them every day.

Thank you, Jesus, that you are mine and I am yours. Amen.

15: Crazy Love

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant
of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

—Isaiah 54:10

“Hurry! Hurry! You’ll be too late!” I shouted at the screen. You’d think I’d never seen this movie before. In fact, I’ve watched it over and over. I know the hero will come right at the last second, risking his life to save hers.

Like the girl in the movie, we want to be desired, fought for, pursued. And we are.

Our Creator pursues us. He gave up his life, paying a great price to come and rescue us.

There were times in my life when I saw Jesus as my Savior, Shepherd, and friend. But it wasn’t until I read the following verses and realized the magnitude and depth of his love for me that I saw how valuable I am to him:

Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for
you. . . . That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you. (Isaiah 43:1-4, The Message)

He’d give up everything just for me? The whole world? That’s crazy! This truth satisfied a deep longing in my heart, a longing I didn’t even know I had. This is the love that fills the love gaps in my wanting heart and answers the question: Am I valuable enough to be pursued?

Yes, I am. And so are you, my friend.

Start the Revolution

Watch your favorite romantic movie and remember that Jesus is pursuing you too!

Jesus, thank you for giving up everything for me! Amen.

16: Wild

Be here—the king is wild for you. Since he’s your lord, adore him.

—Psalm 45:11 (The Message)

“He loved me; but did he like me?” I grew up learning about salvation and Jesus dying for my sins, so I got that he loved me. Did he like me, though? When he looked at me, was he disappointed in me? What could I do to get him to like me more?

I wish I could understand where such warped thinking came from. Maybe it’s the fake society we live in. We have “friends”  who “like” us in front of us, but behind us, they are quick to tell all the ways we annoy them. Could the same be true of Jesus?

Then I discovered the truth. Even knowing my deepest thoughts, my darkest deeds, and my disappointing attitudes didn’t change his loving thoughts toward me.

He didn’t die for me because he had to; he did it because he wanted to! He did it because he is wild about me! He was on the day he died; he is still today.

In the New International Version, our verse today says, “Let the king be enthralled by your beauty.” Enthralled means to be captivated or charmed. When he looks at you, not only does he like you, not only does he love you, he’s captivated by you! He can’t take his eyes off you. He’s crazy about you!

Start the Revolution

How do you feel about your most favorite things in the whole world? Jesus loves you like that!

Think of one thing that you think Jesus likes about you. Now think of one thing you like about him.
Make these into your prayer today.

17: Chosen

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.

—Ephesians 1:4, 5

“If I had known she was going to tell my secrets, I would have never become friends with her!” “If I had known he was going to dump me, I would have never gone out with him!” “If I had known that this was the way it was going to turn out, I would have never ________ !” (Fill in the blank.) Ever have these thoughts?

Just think of this: God did know exactly the way
everything was going to turn out when it came to his relationship with us—and he still created us! He knew some would reject him: “I don’t want that!” He knew others would say “Not now. Maybe after college.” He knew some would break his heart.

He also knew some would love him deeply. This is why he still chooses to put his heart out there and risk rejection. He does it again and again because he wants close, intimate relationship with us. He is willing to go through the pain of rejection from some in order to experience the joy of chosen love from others.

Why would he go through this? Because love is only valuable when love is chosen.

Jesus doesn’t need love from us; he is already complete in the relationship he has with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He does, however, want a relationship with us.

Don’t take this invitation lightly, friend. The Creator of the universe wants to interact daily and relate with you. Don’t let this opportunity for real love pass you by. Choose his deep love.

Start the Revolution

Make an invitation from God to you. Be sure to spend some extra time with him this week.

Jesus, may I never say no, or later, to what you offer me. Today I am saying yes to you! Amen.

18: Lenses

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face.

—1 Corinthians 13:12

Ever seen a girl who had no idea that a certain guy was crazy about her? Let me tell you about Abby and John.

Abby is an absolutely adorable girl. One of Abby’s best friends is John. Abby and John do everything together. One day when I was hanging out with their friend Megan, she said, “I wish I had a best friend like John.”

I thought, Best friends? No way. John has it bad for Abby.

Several months later, I was with Megan when she said, “Guess what? John told Abby he’s liked her this whole time!”

“Really?!” I replied with a grin.

Abby didn’t see herself as a girl who was wanted. When she looked in the mirror, she saw a skinny girl with braces. But that isn’t what John saw at all!

A lot of us are just like Abby. When we look at ourselves, we don’t see what Jesus sees. Mirrors can distort our vision. But someday when we see him face-to-face, we’ll see in his eyes a true reflection. Until then we need to remind ourselves of the truth that Jesus sees us as beautiful and is crazy about us. Then our confidence will be built on something that can never be taken from us.

Today, look at your life as the girl in the know, like I was in the know about John and Abby. Look through the lenses of a girl who is being pursued and fought over. What does your world really look like through the lenses of one who is wanted?

Start the Revolution

Look through a magnifying glass. Remember: Jesus’ vision magnifies all the best in you.

Give me your lenses, Jesus. Amen.

19: How You’re Made

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your words are wonderful, I know that full well.

—Psalm 139:14

I hate the number, the one staring back at me on the scale today. I try not to care, to not let that number have power over how I feel.

But it’s hard.

I feel pressure to fit into skinny jeans, to avoid at all costs having a muffin top or flabby legs. Some of the pressure comes from society: commercials, magazines, movies, and TV shows. Hollywood makes it hard on us girls! Perfect bodies, hair, and teeth—it’s exhausting to even think of keeping up with it all.

Other days, the pressure comes from within. I look in the mirror; I see the teeth that never had braces. Would that have made me feel more beautiful? Is it too late?

It’s not just the teeth; my chest could really use some help too. And so on and so on . . .

This is where our battles take place: on the scale, in front of the mirror, in the closet. And this is where we need to fight back!

Stand on your battleground and ask Jesus for help. Consider the beauty of our Lord and Savior, and let him define for you what true beauty is. Repeat today’s verse: “I am wonderfully made!”

Start the Revolution

Arm yourself for battle. Use the sword of the Spirit—God’s Word—as you face your battle today.

Jesus, I don’t want to offend you and criticize the way you made me, but I could really use some help here. Open my eyes to show me what you see. Amen.

20: Everlasting

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with
an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

—Jeremiah 31:3

Name some things in your life that are eternal. Things that never end. Pretty short list, isn’t it?

One thing on your list should be the love of God. He’s been loving you and will love you forever: before he created you, in this short gap called life, and when you leave this earth. How incredible! You would think that, since we have this kind of unending love from God, it would be a no-brainer to invest in loving him back. Even though we receive this perfect love, though, sometimes we fail. We spend much of our efforts on things that are not eternal. And so little energy returning the love that is.

In most relationships, when we don’t call or reach out and show we care, those relationships falter or even fall apart. Ever have a best friend move away or go to a different school? Relationships that are not convenient are often hard to keep.

God’s love is not like that! He keeps reaching out to us with his everlasting love, no matter what! His is not a love we should take for granted; we need to meet with him, loving him back, every day!

It can be easy to forget God in the day-to-day details of our busy lives. We allow things, both good and bad, to crowd him out. But even then his response is to draw us back; he wants us so much!

Start the Revolution

What will you do today to put energy back into your relationship with him?

Thank you, Jesus, for such a perfect, everlasting love. Amen.

21: Lavish

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

—1 John 3:1

Whenever I read my Bible and see the word love, I just have to start digging. I guess I must be one desperate girl, because I just can’t seem to get enough.

Today’s key verse tells us that the Father has lavished his great love on us.
Lavished isn’t a word in my everyday vocabulary. says it means: “to expend or give in great amounts or without limit.”

Have you ever been squeezing someone in a giant bear hug and they squeak out “Stop!”? Maybe their love language isn’t physical touch! Possibly you’ve had a friend wish you didn’t call so much, or a guy who thought you were spending too much time with each other.

Not so with God! There is no point at which God says “OK, that’s enough,” when it comes to his love. It’s impossible for him to spoil you, so he just keeps giving and giving.

One of the ways he expresses this crazy, luxurious love is by calling us his children. YOU are the child of God! You belong to the one who owns and created everything.

Start the Revolution

Are you proud of the name “Christian”?

What does it mean to you?

Thank you for calling me your child. Thank you for adopting me and making me your own. Amen.

22: Wanted

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall
purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

—Ephesians 1:11, 12 (The Message)

If you read His Revolutionary Love, you know I was a stalker-type girl at one point. I schemed and planned about how I could spend the rest of my life with Greg. Here’s an example of how over the top I was. In my sophomore year I didn’t buy my yearbook. I figured that, since Greg was a senior at the same school, we would already have his copy when we someday got married! Can you even believe me? (Seriously, I either needed help or I had really crazy faith! Maybe both?)

This type of thinking can really tank a girl in the pit of self-pity. Daydreaming to the point of obsession can end up being just another reminder that you aren’t wanted!

I am so glad that Jesus took care of all that! Talk about feeling wanted! Today’s verse says that before I even heard of Christ, he had chosen me. He already had a plan in place for us to be together. He worked out all the details for how he was going to bring my life and his incredible plan together!

When we focus on this reality, that Jesus wants us and has an amazing future for us, it builds confidence in our hearts. This kind of confidence empowers us to be joyful—with or without that guy we’ve been stalking!

Find out whose you are and what you’re living for. Become a Jesus stalker! You know all that time you spend (or waste) thinking about that guy, cruising his Facebook page, reading his tweets? Just think how much more amazing you would become if you took this same time and energy and stalked Jesus! That wouldn’t be time wasted; it would be time invested!

Start the Revolution

Be a Jesus stalker today. Read his messages over and over again. Find out where he’s working, and join him!

Jesus, help me to become a Jesus stalker! Amen.

23: Undeserved

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. . . . It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us!

—Ephesians 2:1-5 (The Message)

Ever have someone be kind to you when you deserved the worst? I was in a hurry. (Then again, when am I not? I think I was just born stuck in high gear.) I hopped into my little black car, shoved my gearshift into reverse, floored the gas—and slammed right into a huge mulch pile. There, for the entire world to see, shone a new crack in my bumper.

You know what worried me most? Not the cost of the repair. Not the expense of my newly increased insurance bill. What really concerned me was my husband’s reaction. I just knew that he was going to be sooooo mad. If not that, he’d be really disappointed in me. I hated to have to deliver the bad news!

But when I finally did tell Greg, do you know what he did? He forgave me. He looked at the crack and said, “I know you didn’t mean to.”

I really didn’t see that coming! I thought I’d get what I deserved—yelled at! Greg had every reason to lose his temper, but he didn’t. Instead, he totally demonstrated the love of Jesus.

I deserve to be yelled at—and a lot more—by God. For the sins I’ve committed, I deserve death. But instead, Jesus forgives me and gives me a new life. He shows me mercy—a gift of love I will never deserve.

Start the Revolution

Who in your life needs love they don’t deserve?

Spill out some mercy on those around you today.

Show me who needs your love today, Jesus,
and let it pour out through me. Amen.

24: Measuring Up

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power,
together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

—Ephesians 3:17-19

What rattles your confidence and pushes your insecurity buttons? My thing is being around success. Somehow, I breathe in the lie that all people are created in the same way, so we should all be able to do the same things.

I can’t stand the insecurity coming up inside me. It’s like the last time I got the flu.

What does it for you? The look and giggle as you walk down the hall. Striking out—for the third time in a row? Having a teacher read test scores out loud? All these events have something in common: comparison. We feel as if our best is being compared to another’s, and we just don’t measure up.

This shifty thing called self-esteem can create trouble, even for the most secure. It’s a trial that won’t go away, no matter what your age. So what’s a girl to do?

Base your esteem on the one constant: Christ’s love for and in you. His perfect love never changes. Here, rooted in this solid love, we can rest secure. The more we understand how endless his love truly is, the more stable we will be—inside and out.

When bad things happen—and they will, over and over again—we can keep going back to his unshakable devotion. We can return to the truth of his radical love and have it fill our aching hearts again and again.

Start the Revolution

Read today’s passage again.

Allow the truth of the depth of his love to fill your heart’s gap.

Jesus, help me remember that whatever happens today, it isn’t anything that your powerful love and I
cannot handle together! Amen.

25: Sing It

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

—Psalm 42:8

Don’t you love when you feel strong? There have been different seasons in my life when I have been very fit. When I was fifteen, I ran my first half marathon. I loved the ability to go out and just run and run and run. It made me feel powerful—free.

There is another time when I feel strong: in the morning. During my favorite time of the day, I spend quiet moments with Jesus. Filling my heart and mind with just what I need to make it through the day—love and hope. Seriously, sometimes I actually giggle when I’m gathering my Bible and journal. I just love it.

Nighttime, though, can be really hard. As I lie in bed, my mind swirls, pulling me into a spiral focus on my troubles. Inside my heart, a war goes on between faith and fear.

Do you ever struggle at night? Maybe you have thoughts like these: “Nobody else is home alone. Other people are out together, having fun, while I’m here alone.”

We can take a cue from David. During the day, he allowed the Lord’s love for him to give him direction. Knowing he was loved gave him the strength to make the hard choices that were the best choices. Then at night he put away all the words and hard thinking and just sang praise to God.

Start the Revolution

Choose a song to sing—a song that thanks him for his deep love for you! Sing this song tonight as you lie in bed.

Today, make your prayer a song to him—
even if it isn’t night.

26: Make a List

How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from the hills of Gilead.

—Song of Solomon 4:1

“I am in love!” she tells you. Then she begins to tell you everything that is so wonderful about her guy:

• His smile when I walk into the room.

• His manners. He even opens my door!

• He only has eyes for me.

• He’s a guy’s guy, totally manly!

• I feel beautiful when I am with him.

At this point, you’ve probably heard enough and are trying to figure out some way to get her to stop.

There is one who does the same about you; he goes on and on. Throughout the Bible, God expresses his love for us. And one book in particular is said to reflect the love of God for his creation: Song of Solomon. It’s not hard to see just how wild about you he is. Here are some descriptions from Song of Solomon 4 (The Message):

• You’re so beautiful.

• Your smile is generous and full.

• You’ve captured my heart, dear friend.

• How beautiful your love, dear, dear friend.

He goes on and on, saying: “You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless” (v. 7).

Radical girl, if he has filled a whole book on how crazy he is about you, how about starting a journal about why you are wild about him? You’ll need a lot of pages to describe your amazing Lord.

Start the Revolution

Start a journal. Here’s a first line: I’m crazy about him because he’s crazy about me!

Jesus, I can’t wait to dive into your Word and learn just how amazing you are! Amen.

27: Hopefully in Love

You’ve captured my heart, dear friend. You looked at me, and I fell in love. One look my way and I was hopelessly in love!”

—Song of Solomon 4:9 (The Message)

Maybe you’re still having a hard time believing that Jesus is in love with you. Does your mind think Why? What’s so great about me? Possibly a lack of a boyfriend is what makes it hard for you to believe that you could capture the heart of anyone!

But you have. The picture painted in Song of Solomon is one of a King utterly in love with the object of his devotion. Let’s consider the image of two guys. First, there’s the typical guy at your school: young, immature, still trying to figure life out, insecure, selfish . . . need we go on? Contrast him to Jesus: perfect, all-knowing, and unconditionally loving—the very definition of unselfish.

Now who are you going to believe when it comes to your lovability level? That crush who is crushing you or the one who is flipped-out, madly in love with you?

Since you can see and hear your crush, it makes it easier to believe him. Seeing all the couples at school holding hands, going out, texting, tweeting . . . it makes it hard not to view that picture as the only kind of love. But if you’ll take some time to look a little deeper, you can see the shallowness of this type of relationship. Often it is filled with the “what can you do for me” mentality. Rarely is it unselfish and about the benefit of the other person.

The love that loves no matter what you do, the love that only wants to know you—that is real love.

Start the Revolution

If you’re stuck thinking you are unlovable—look again, through the eyes of Jesus.

Jesus, please fill that gap in my heart that wants a crush I can touch. You are all I need! Amen.

28: Unselfish Love

I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them
and that I myself may be in them.

—John 17:26

Jesus, speaking to his Father God in this verse, says he is going to continue what he started: sharing with everyone he can about his Father. Jesus wants us to get the depth of love that exists between himself and God.

It’s unfortunate that in the English language we have only one word for love. Love can have so many different meanings! You can love your parents, love the beach, and love going to church—all completely different kinds of love.

In the study notes of my Bible, it says that the word for love in this verse is agape. Agape love is so different from the types of love we usually live out. Agape isn’t just a feeling; it’s a choice that is made to value and treat as precious the one it loves. It’s isn’t about what’s in it for me; it’s all about how the one loving can benefit the one loved.

This is the perfect love that Jesus has for us. It’s rooted in unselfishness and is pure. Agape love is the love that Jesus wants us to have in us, so that his love can live out of us.

Start the Revolution

Choose to show love today—especially to someone not easy for you to love.

Jesus, the “love” I know depends on feelings. Fill me with your perfect agape love and give me the strength
to pour out your love on others. Amen.

29: He Fought for You

My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all;
no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

—John 10:29

I have never been fought over. Never. Not for a team on the playground. Not between two girls who wanted to be my best friend. For sure not between two guys. Unless you count that dream I had after watching the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Seriously though, I don’t think that counts.

There was a side of me, like Elizabeth in that movie, that wanted to be fought over! Part of me just wanted to know that someone was so crazy about me, he’d do anything for me.

When I read today’s verse, I heard Jesus saying, “That’s me, Lynn!”  Nothing is going to take me away from him, and he will always rescue me. His love compels him to do anything and everything to protect me.

Read today’s verse out loud. When I read it, I picture Jesus, on the day I gave him my life, standing up and shouting for all to hear: “This one is mine!”

I don’t have to wish that someone would fight over me, and neither do you. Jesus already did, on the cross. This was more than just a few thrown punches. Jesus fought to the death and beat Satan by a long shot!

Start the Revolution

Read today’s verse out loud, shouting it out!

Put your name in place of “them.”

Jesus, you are my rescuer! Thank you for fighting
for me then, and every day since! Amen.

30: He Got There First

We love because he first loved us.

—1 John 4:19

There is something very powerful about our first crush. I should know; mine lasted seven years . . . and then I married him!

You know, when I first fell for Greg, it was kind of weird. I mean, I didn’t even know him. That first time he called, I couldn’t put his face and name together in my mind. One thing I did know. Someone—a boy someone—was calling me, and I liked it!

I hate to admit that being wanted was my reason for letting this crush even begin. But it’s the truth. There is something almost riveting about having someone like you first.

I’m sure that is what first got me about Jesus too. As embarrassed as I am to admit that, it helps knowing that I am not the only one! When John wrote a letter to the churches in Asia, he made this statement: “We love because he first loved us.”

I guess it’s just human nature: when we are loved, we find it a lot easier to return love.

So now that you know he loves you, and loves you greatly, it’s time to spread it around. Spread it first back to Jesus and then on to all those around you. Let this love fill your heart until it can’t help but spill out. Get so full with his love, there is nothing that can hold it back. Love because he first loved you.

Start the Revolution

Love someone today, because Jesus loved you first.

Jesus, you loved me before I even knew about you.
Fill me up so I can pour you out! Amen.

31: Refuge

The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes.
He is close to those who trust in him.

—Nahum 1:7 (NLT)

There’s not a ton of hugs or snuggling going on around here; I live in a house of people whose love language is not physical touch. In fact, we just might ask you to move over if you get too close on the couch. We all love each other; we just don’t show it with slobbery kisses and bear crushes.

One of the many things I love about God is that every language is his love language. Words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service—he loves them all. And it is absolutely impossible to get too close to this one who loves you so much.

Love is vulnerable; love is open. In fact, those qualities are exactly what it takes to let this radical love of Jesus revolutionize your life. Today’s verse says he is close to those who trust in him. When you know that you are loved, it is not hard to trust. You know that the person has your best at heart each time, every time.

When we make a choice to depend on his love in our hard situations, it will cause us to draw closer to him than we were before, and he wants that! The confidence we gain from giving our troubles to the one who can be trusted will be a confidence we can rely on again and again.

Start the Revolution

Memorize Nahum 1:7.

I want you close to me, Jesus! I want to run to your strength and love again and again! Amen.

32: Rescue

Who is this, robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, proclaiming victory, mighty to save.”

—Isaiah 63:1

Anyone who knows me knows I am crazy about movies set back in time, such as A Little Princess and Braveheart. Throw a little romance in there, and I am hooked!

Today’s verse reminds me of a time gone by. I picture Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, riding on a horse, rescuing those he loved from evil.

There are some days when I need someone who loves me to come to my rescue. Pressures around me threaten to pull me under. My own dumb mistakes leave my relationships in a mess. My own thoughts make me feel sad and dejected.

We don’t have to wish that we lived in a different time, with knights coming to our rescue. We live in a time when a Prince has come to our rescue, and his name is Jesus. There is no reason for us to try to pull ourselves out of our sticky situations we can’t repair. Jesus, who has all power and strength, is ready to come to our rescue. It is so simple; it just takes calling one word: Jesus.

Simply saying his name brings power into our lives. I really don’t understand it. I just know that when I feel like I can’t take any more, whispering his name brings his peace.

Start the Revolution

Say his name: Jesus.

Experience the peace of the one who rescues you.

Jesus, I can’t ever repay you for rescuing me.
Thank you for giving me your strength. Amen.

33: He Bends

I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them.

—Hosea 11:4

How could I have messed up . . . again? Falling for that same old trap? I didn’t mean to. It wasn’t like I was purposefully trying to make her look bad.

I feel awful; the weight of sin is pulling me under. I’ll just never be who I want to be. Seeking relief, I begin to pray.

Truth comes to my rescue. Coming alongside the mud pit of discouragement that I have thrown myself into, Jesus leads me. He picks me up, whispering, “I forgive you.” He opens his arms of love wide, inviting me to come and accept his forgiveness. Yes, his heart for me is obedience, but right now, he just reminds me his care isn’t based on my being perfect.

Even as we are learning just how crazy Jesus is about us, some days our own inability to get things right drags us under. God stoops to us, loving us in a way we can understand and receive. He bends down to meet me so I can accept his perfect love.

Can you picture it? Ever see a father swing his little girl up high? In Daddy’s arms she feels both thrilled with and safe in his strength. Ever watch a father feed his child, bending to give her one bite at a time? She depends on him for food, and she trusts that what he gives her will be good. We have a perfect Father, who wants to protect and nourish us, just as we are. We don’t have to become lovable; we just have to let his love in. Jesus takes care of the changing.

Start the Revolution

When you are feeling down, run to him. Tell him how you feel, then rest quietly, allowing him to tell you how much he adores you.

Jesus, I need to know your love, especially on the days when I feel down about myself. I just can’t get enough of you or your love. Amen.

34: Different

You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

—Isaiah 62:3

“I can’t stop thinking about my weight,” Mandy confessed. “Every time I eat, I feel guilty. Even the parts of my body that I know I shouldn’t worry about, I do. I feel trapped. I wish I had long skinny legs like other girls at school.”

My friend Mandy is slipping down the mountain of comparison and is about to hit bottom. If you looked at her, this conversation would make no sense. She is a gorgeous girl, but that is not what Mandy sees. She sees different. Different from the girls at school. Different from the girls on TV. She doesn’t like different.

I, too, have gotten caught by comparison. Friendships. Outfits. Success. I know that feeling of being trapped; maybe you do too.

I’ve found only one escape from the comparison prison: looking to Jesus. When I stop my mind from comparing myself to others and instead look to my Jesus, I am set free from jealousy jail.

God calls his people a crown of splendor in his hand. When I read this verse, I picture a royal crown, like the one worn by Princess Kate at the royal wedding. Full of diamonds, brilliant and gorgeous. defines splendor as: grandeur, glory, and brilliant distinction. How’s that for different?

Friend, God does want you to see yourself as different—a brilliant distinction from every other girl on the earth. It’s up to you to replace the lies in your mind with the truth of who you are.

Start the Revolution

Today, remind yourself: “I am a crown of splendor in God’s hand.”

Lord, thank you for making me different.
Help me to see my value as you see it. Amen.

35: Between Us

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? . . . I am convinced
that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the
present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

—Romans 8:35, 38, 39

Why didn’t she like me? I had only dated her son a couple of times. But she let him know often how she felt—he told me! Maybe it was one of those “no one is good enough for my boy”  deals. I would analyze myself. When I was around her, I tried not to be loud, used my best manners, and made conversation politely.

None of it worked. Her dislike of me caused us to break up. (That’s probably what she was hoping for!)

I am so glad Jesus’ love for us is so powerful—nothing can come between us—nothing! No trouble or hardship can separate us from his love. No mother, or any other person, for that matter!

There may be times when you don’t feel his love; in fact, you may feel just the opposite. Make up your mind today that you will believe this truth: nothing can separate you from Jesus’ love. When the time comes that you feel he’s as far away as he can be, you can go back to this day, when you planted deep in your heart this seed of truth.

Start the Revolution

Your bond with God is not like other relationships—nothing can separate you from his love.

Jesus, there are so many things I can’t count on. Thank you that you and your love can be counted on. Amen.

36: Surprises

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

—Proverbs 25:2

Have you ever had someone completely surprise you with a gift? One year for my birthday, Greg planned the perfect surprise! Without my knowing, he had my best friends flown to our town, hid them in a hotel, and then had them sit at our table in a restaurant before we arrived for dinner. When the restaurant hostess asked us if we would mind sharing a table with another couple, I was so mad! This was my birthday! I didn’t want to share this special day with people I didn’t know.

As we approached the table, the couple’s backs were to us. I was still fuming. When I turned to sit down, I was completely blown away! There were two of the people who meant the most to me! The fact that Greg would work so hard to surprise me was really the best gift of all! It was no easy task to keep this a secret from me. He really wanted me to know that he loved me so much!

Sometimes I feel like God does the same thing; he creates surprises just to tell me how much he loves me. Since I am a nature freak, that is where I’ve discovered a lot of my surprises. A purple and peach sunset. Fog-cloaked mountains. A turquoise-covered ocean. The first time I went snorkeling I was blown away by the gorgeous treasures hidden under the ocean’s surface. Talk about God hiding a surprise!

He wants to show you just how much he loves you too! Today, keep your eyes open for God to love on you in the most unexpected ways. Remember, nothing is a coincidence! God is speaking his love to you.

Start the Revolution

Look out for God’s surprises in your day today.

Lord, I’ve got my eyes open. Show me your love! Amen.

37: No Accident

We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.

—1 Thessalonians 1:3-5

I hated Valentine’s Day. Most of all, I hated the annual flower fund-raiser. When that day started though, I was hopeful. Maybe there was someone who would use this day to express how he really felt about me. First block of classes, second block, lunch. Nothing. Fourth block. . . . Then the “flower girl” glided into our room.

She called my name! I saw it—the pink flower. My heart began to flutter. Then I saw who it was from. Really? Him?

For a brief second, I allowed myself to get excited.

Then reality kicked in. There’s no way this can be true. He was popular; I was not. There’s no way he would want me. I shoved the flower down in my backpack. I feared it wasn’t real, so I acted like it never happened. Never knowing the truth was better than finding out it was a joke.

Since then I have discovered Jesus has chosen me—chosen a life for me. He has work for me to do, through faith and love and endurance. You too are chosen! You are not an accident, nor a mistake. You are a person of worth and purpose created by God, and through him you can have power and conviction.

Start the Revolution

Find out more about God’s chosen people in the Bible.

Lord, I’m trying to get it: you have chosen me and my value comes from you. Thank you! Amen.

38: Return to Me

“Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.

—Malachi 3:7

Your weekend with the girls got out of control, and you found yourself in the center of the gossip storm. The small disagreement with your parents escalated, ending in a grounding because you became disrespectful. That peck on the cheek became so much more, and now you feel shame.

Sin. It leaves us feeling awful—embarrassed and shameful.

When you sin, does God say “I can’t believe you! I’m so disappointed”? Does he turn away from us? His Word doesn’t lead me to believe that. In fact, he tells us exactly what to do when we are in this place: “Return to me, and I will return to you.”

In this passage, God’s people had been ripping him off. He was blessing them, and they were keeping it all to themselves, not giving any back to him. He instructs them on how to get back to serving him. “Return to me and I’ll return to you. Start bringing your tithe into the temple; do what is right. You take the first step toward me, and I’ll take the next step toward you.”

If you need to return to him, start by asking for forgiveness. Then do the right thing. Admit to your friends you were wrong to gossip. Ask your parents to forgive your disrespect. Break up with the boy. Return to Jesus. You’ll find he is right there, ready to have you back.

Start the Revolution

Have you turned away from God?

What steps do you need to take now?

Jesus, it is so easy to mess up. Thank you for making it simple, through forgiveness, to come back. Amen.

39: On Fire

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.

—Song of Solomon 8:6, 7

Love is very powerful. Wars have been started for love. Families have been betrayed for love. People have died for love. That’s the power of human love.

Multiply that by a number bigger than we can conceive, and that would represent the power of God’s love for us. Love of this kind is not hot today and moved on to somewhere else by tomorrow. It has the ability to stay no matter what comes; there is no trouble that can cause God to run.

When his love becomes the thing we live for, it creates a fire in our lives—a passion that gives our lives purpose and meaning. He becomes the reason for the decisions we make.

Radical girl, you need more to live for than the next boyfriend, the next party, or the next weekend. Jesus is that thing.

Start the Revolution

Look at the images of God’s love in these verses. Paint your own word pictures. How do you describe his love?

Jesus, set your love for me as a seal over my heart. May you be the one thing I live for. Amen.

40: His Ideas

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.

—1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT )

Have you ever prepared a surprise for someone you loved? Weren’t you just so excited to see them completely blown away by your gift?

I knew she would love it! Her favorite band was in America—all the way from England. It might possibly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; so I bought her the concert tickets.

It was all I could do to keep it a secret! I told her sister, making her take a vow of silence. (I had to tell at least one person!)

Her birthday finally came. When she opened her gift, she let out a scream! She was completely shocked! (You know, it’s possible to get someone something they want, and it’s possible to get someone a surprise, but to surprise them with something they want is a huge feat!)

Those concert tickets were nothing compared to what God says he has conceived for you! The God who has access to the best of the best prepared a plan for you, and he is just waiting to bring it all together. Our lives are like puzzle pieces, and at just the right time, God brings another piece in to create the whole picture. Our part? Just keep loving and obeying him.

Start the Revolution

Give a small gift to someone just because. Think about the joy God has in store for each of us.

Jesus, all I can say is, bring it on! I can’t wait to
see the amazing love you have prepared for me.
Empower me to stay close to you so that you can bring all the puzzle pieces together. Amen.

41: Because

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—
it is by grace you have been saved.

—Ephesians 2:4, 5

Because. There’s a word we use all the time. “I can’t pick up my bedroom, because I am doing my homework!” “I ate the last piece of cake because I wanted to!” Because.

A lot of the time when we use that word, it’s pretty empty. It’s a signal of an excuse coming up—and usually an illegitimate excuse. Or maybe just a reason without any explanation: “Because I said so.”

But in this verse, because isn’t empty. It’s full of purpose, of meaning, and of love.

Because of love. Because of love, when God looked at us, he chose to make us alive. Because of love, he chose to send Jesus. Because of love, he gave us new life. Even though there was no reason in us to do it.

It’s your turn now. Your turn to say because. Because he first loved me, I live my life for him. Because he first loved me, I choose to honor him. Because he first loved me, I choose his way and not my own.

Start the Revolution

How do you use the word because?

What will you do because of God’s love for you?

Jesus, you offer me everything.
Help me to give you my everything in return. Amen.