Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Winter of Candy Canes by Debbie Viguié

What I Thought:
I adore this series. My husband and son both stole this from me, one after the other, so I haven't been able to read it yet. They both LOVED it...so if a 13 year old boy and a forty-something man enjoyed it...and it is chick-lit...that says more than anything I could say! I highly recommend the Sweet Season Novels. A lot of fun for the entire family! :-D

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Winter of Candy Canes

Zondervan (October 1, 2008)


Debbie Viguié has been writing for most of her life. She has experimented with poetry and nonfiction, but her true passion lies in writing novels.

She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing from UC Davis. While at Davis she met her husband, Scott, at auditions for a play. It was love at first sight.

Debbie and Scott now live on the island of Kauai. When Debbie is not writing and Scott has time off they love to indulge their passion for theme parks.

The Sweet Seasons Novels:

The Summer of Cotton Candy
The Fall of Candy Corn
The Winter of Candy Canes
The Spring of Candy Apples

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310717523
ISBN-13: 978-0310717522


Candace Thompson was once again eye-to-eye with Lloyd Peterson, hiring manager for The Zone theme park. This time, though, she felt far more confident. She had already spent her summer working as a cotton candy vendor, and she had worked one of the mazes for the annual Halloween event. She had even saved the park from saboteurs.

Now she was back, and this time she was interviewing for a job working the Christmas events at the park. Surely after everything she had done for the Scare event, she had nothing to worry about. She tucked a strand of red hair back behind her ear as she gazed intently at the man across from her.

“So you want to work Holly Daze?” he asked.

She nodded. Christmas at The Zone was a big deal, and the park began its official celebrations the day after Thanksgiving.

“You keep hiring on for short bursts of time and then leaving. Do you have some sort of problem committing to things?” he asked, staring hard at her.

She was stunned, but answered, “I don’t have any problem with commitment. I signed on to do specific things, and the jobs ended. That’s not my fault. I didn’t quit.”

“So, you plan on making a habit of this?” he demanded. “Are you going to show up here again in a -couple of months expecting me to give you some kind of job for spring break?”

“No, I — ”

“I know your type,” he said, standing up abruptly. “You’re just a party girl. No commitments . . . no cares . . . just grab some quick cash and get out. You think you can handle Holly Daze? Well, you can’t! You’re weak and a quitter. You’re going to bail on me as soon as your school vacation starts, and then what? Well, let me tell you, missy. You aren’t wanted here. So just pack your bags and get out!”

By the end of his tirade, he was shouting, eyes bulging behind his glasses and tie swinging wildly as he shook his finger under her nose. Candace recoiled, sure that he had finally flipped out. I’m going to end up as a headline: Girl Murdered by Stressed-Out Recruiter, she thought wildly. Well, I’m not going down without a fight! She jumped to her feet and put some distance between her and the wildly wagging finger.

“You need to calm down!” she said, projecting her voice like her drama teacher had taught her. Her voice seemed to boom in the tiny office. “Pull yourself together. You’re a representative of this theme park, and there is no call to insult me. Furthermore, I’m not a quitter. I’ll work for the entire Christmas season. Then the next time I come in here, I’ll expect you to treat me with some respect. Do you even realize what I’ve done for this park so far? Seriously. Take a chill pill.”

She stopped speaking when she realized that he had gone completely quiet. She held her breath, wondering when the next explosion was going to come. Instead, he sat down abruptly and waved her back to her chair.

“Very good. You passed the test,” he said, picking up a pen.

“What test?” she asked, edging her way back into the chair.

“The ultimate test. You’re going to be one of Santa’s elves.”

“Doesn’t Santa, you know, have his own elves?” she asked, still not sure that he was completely in charge of his senses.

“Of course Santa has his own elves. However, when he’s here at The Zone we supply him with courtesy elves so that they can continue making toys at the North Pole,” Mr. Peterson told her.

“So, I’m going to be a courtesy elf?” she asked.

He nodded and handed her a single sheet of paper. “Sign this.”

She took it. “What? Just one thing to sign?” She had expected another huge stack of forms that would leave her hand cramped for hours afterward.

He nodded curtly. “You’re now in our system as a regular seasonal employee. All of your other paperwork transfers.”

“Regular seasonal” sounded like some kind of contradiction to her, but she was still not entirely convinced his outburst had been a test. She scanned it, signed her name, and then handed it back to him.

“Good. Report to wardrobe on Saturday for your costume fitting,” he said.

“Okay, thank you,” she said, standing up and backing toward the door.

“Welcome back, Candy,” he said, smiling faintly.

“Thanks,” she said, before bolting out the door.

As soon as she was outside the building, she whipped out her cell phone and called her friend Josh, a fellow employee of The Zone.

“Well?” he asked when he picked up.

“I think Mr. Peterson has seriously lost it,” she said. “He totally flipped out on me.”

Josh laughed. “Let me guess. You’re going to be an elf.”

“So he was serious? That was some whacked-out test?”

“Yeah. Elves are considered a class-one stress position, and it can get pretty intense.”

“How hard can it be to be an elf?” she asked.

She was rewarded by a burst of laughter on the other end.

“Josh, what is it you’re not telling me?”

He just kept laughing.

“Okay, seriously. You were the one who convinced me to work Holly Daze. I think it’s only fair you tell me whatever it is I need to know.”

“Sorry!” he gasped. She wasn’t sure if he was apologizing or refusing to tell her.

A girl bounced around the corner and slammed into Candace.

“Josh, I’ll call you later,” she said, hanging up.

“Sorry,” Becca apologized.

Becca was one of Candace’s other friends from the park, one who had some sort of bizarre allergy to sugar that made her uncontrollably hyper. Candace looked suspiciously at Becca. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes were glistening, and she was hopping from one foot to the other.

“You didn’t have sugar, did you?” Candace asked, fear ripping through her.

“No! Promise,” Becca said.

“Then what gives?”

“Roger made me laugh really hard,” Becca explained.

Roger had a crush on Becca and had wanted to ask her out since Halloween. It hadn’t happened yet.

“Oh,” was all Candace could think to say.

“So, are you working Holly Daze?” Becca asked.

“Yeah. I’m going to be an elf.”

Suddenly, Becca went completely still, and the smile left her face. “I’m sorry,” she said.

“Why?” Candace asked.

Becca just shook her head. “I’ve gotta get back to the Muffin Mansion. I’ll catch you later.”

She hurried off, and Candace watched her go. Okay, now I know there’s something -people aren’t telling me.

She debated about following Becca and forcing her to spill, but instead she headed for the parking lot where her best friend Tamara was waiting. She walked through the Exploration Zone, one of the several themed areas in the park.

The Zone theme park was created and owned by John
Hanson, a former professional quarterback who believed in healthy competition at work and play. His theme park had several areas, or zones, where -people could compete with each other and themselves at just about anything. Almost everyone who worked at The Zone was called a referee. The exceptions were the costumed characters called mascots. Most of them, including Candace’s boyfriend, Kurt, were to be found in the History Zone. -People visiting the park were called players, and the areas of the park they could reach were called on field. Only refs could go off field.

Candace cut through an off field area to get to the referee parking lot. She waved at a few other -people she recognized from her time spent working there. Finally, she slid into her friend’s waiting car.

“So are you going to be the Christmas queen?” Tamara asked.

“What am I, Lucy VanPelt? There’s no Christmas queen in Charlie Brown’s Christmas play, and there’s no Christmas queen in The Zone,” Candace said.

Tamara fake pouted. “Are you sure? I think I’d make a beautiful Christmas queen.”

Candace laughed. Tamara was gorgeous, rich, and fun. Her whole family practically redefined the word wealthy, and, with her dark hair and olive skin, Tamara was usually the prettiest girl in any room. She didn’t let it go to her head, though. Anybody who knew Tamara would vote for her as Christmas queen.

“Although I think you would, they’re only hiring elves.”

“You’re going to be an elf?” Tamara smirked.

“Hey, it beats being a food cart vendor,” Candace said.

“But you’re so good at it. Cotton candy, candy corn . . . you can sell it all.”

“Thanks, I think. So, what are we doing tonight? Kurt’s going to swing by at six to pick us up.” Just mentioning her boyfriend’s name was enough to make Candace smile. She closed her eyes for just a minute and pictured him as she had first seen him — wearing a Lone Ranger costume. With his charm and piercing blue eyes, she had fallen for him right away.

“You told him my house, right?” Tamara said, interrupting her thoughts.

“Yeah. So, who’s this guy you’re taking?”

Tamara sighed. “Mark.”

“Uh-huh. And?”

“Remember my cousin Tina?”


“Well, she broke up with him over the summer, and he’s been all shattered since then. He won’t date other girls; he just mopes over her.”

“Attractive,” Candace said sarcastically.

“Tell me about it. Well, Tina asked me if I could help him get his confidence back and get over her or something.”

“A pity date? Are you kidding me? You want Kurt and I to double date with you on a pity date?”

“You don’t think I’m about to go by myself, do you? No way. That’s the best-friend creed. When you’re happy, I’m happy. When I’m miserable, you have to be too.”

“Great,” Candace said, rolling her eyes. “So, where are we going?”

“That’s the problem. I was thinking dinner, but then we’d have to talk, and frankly, I don’t want to hear him go on about Tina. Then I thought we could see a movie.”

“You wouldn’t have to talk to him,” Candace confirmed.

“Yeah, but what if — ”

“He tries to grab a hand or put his arm around you.”

“Exactly, and I don’t think me giving him a black eye was what Tina had in mind.”

“I guess that also rules out any kind of concert possibilities?” Candace asked wistfully.

“Yup. Sorry.”

“So, what did you come up with?”

“I was thinking . . . theme park?”

“No way. Kurt doesn’t like to spend his downtime there.”

“I thought he took you to that romantic dinner there over the summer.”

“It was the nicest restaurant he knew, and he got an employee discount.”

“Charming,” Tamara said.

“Plus, ever since we got trapped in there overnight, he’s been even more adamant about avoiding it when he’s off work.”

“I can’t believe you two get to be the stuff of urban legend, and you don’t even appreciate it.”

Candace sighed. It was true that she and Kurt had spent one of the most miserable nights of their relationship trapped inside the theme park. Urban legend, though, had since transformed the story so that they were supposedly chased through the park by a psycho killer. It was still embarrassing to have -people point at her and say that she was the one. Around Halloween she had given up trying to correct -people. They were going to believe what they wanted.

“Earth to Candace. Helloooo?”

“Sorry. So, what does that leave us with? Shopping?”

“No need to torture both our dates,” Tamara said.

“Then what?”

“I don’t — miniature golf!” Tamara suddenly shrieked, so loudly that Candace jumped and slammed her head into the roof of the car.

“Tam! Don’t scare me like that.”

“Sorry. Miniature golf. What do you think? Built-in talking points, lots of movement, and zero grabby potential.”

“I like it. I’ll have to borrow one of your jackets though.”

“At least you’ll have an actual excuse this time,” Tamara teased.

A few minutes later they were at Tamara’s house and upstairs raiding her wardrobe. As Tamara considered and discarded a fifth outfit, Candace threw up her hands.

“Maybe if you’d tell me what you’re looking for, I could help.”

“I’m looking for something, you know, nunlike.”

Candace stared at her friend for a moment before she burst out laughing. She fell to the floor, clutching her stomach as tears streamed down her face. Tamara crossed her arms and tapped her foot, and Candace just laughed harder.

“I don’t know why you think that’s so funny. You know I don’t go past kissing.”

“Tam, nuns can’t even do that. And if you’re looking for something that will completely hide your body, then you’re going to have to go to the mall instead of the closet. You don’t own anything that doesn’t say ‘look at me.’ I’m sorry, but it’s true.”

“Really? Maybe we should go to your house. Think I could find what I’m looking for in your closet?”

“Not since I started dating and mom made me throw out all my old camp T-shirts,” Candace said with a grin.

“Then hello, you’ve got no call to laugh.”

Candace stood up, stomach still aching from laughing so hard. “Tam, I’m not criticizing. I’m just telling you, you’re not going to find what you’re looking for.”

Tam reached into the closet. “Oh, yeah, what about this?” she asked, producing jeans and a black turtleneck.

“If you’re going for the secret agent look, it’s a good choice.”

Tamara threw the jeans at her, and Candace ducked.

“I could wear some black pants with this. Would that be too funereal?

“For a pity date? Go for it.”

Candace opted to borrow Tamara’s discarded jeans instead of wearing the skirt she had brought with her. They turned out to be slightly tighter on her than they were on Tam, and she had to admit when she paired them with her red scoop-neck top that she looked really good.

When Kurt arrived a few minutes later, he whistled when he saw her.

“Keep the jeans,” Tamara whispered to her. “Obviously, they work for you.”

Kurt then looked at Tamara and frowned slightly. “Did you just come from a funeral?”

“No, but thank you for thinking so,” Tamara said with a smirk.

“I don’t — ”

Candace put her finger over his lips. “Don’t ask,” she advised him.

He smiled and kissed her finger, which made her giggle.

The doorbell rang again, and Candace turned, eager to see the infamous Mark.

Tamara opened the door, and Candace sucked in her breath. Mark was gorgeous. He had auburn hair, piercing green eyes, and model-perfect features. He was almost as tall as Kurt, and he was stunning in khaki Dockers and a green Polo shirt.

“Hi,” he said, smiling.

Tamara glanced at her and rolled her eyes.

“Hi, Mark.”

Kurt drove, and Candace was quick to slide into the front seat with him, leaving Tamara and Mark to the back. She shook her head. Mark was not her idea of a pity date in any sense of the word. Maybe Tamara would come around if she actually talked to him.

They made it to the miniature golf course and were soon on the green. Candace got a hole in one on the first time up to putt, and Kurt gave her a huge reward kiss.

When they moved on to the next hole, Tamara whispered in her ear, “Thanks a lot. This is supposed to be a no grabby zone. Now Mark will be getting ideas.”

“Tam, you really need to relax a little.”

They made it through the course in record time, and Kurt gave Candace another kiss for winning by one stroke. After turning in their clubs, the guys headed inside to order pizza while Candace and Tamara went to the restroom.

“This date is the worst,” Tamara groaned once they were alone.

“What’s wrong with you? He’s gorgeous.”

“Really? I guess I just can’t see past the Tina mope.”

“What mope? He hasn’t even mentioned her, and he’s done nothing but smile all night. You should totally take him to Winter Formal.”

“No way. This is a one-date-only kind of thing. I’m not taking him to Winter Formal.”

“Fine. Suit yourself. I’m just telling you that if it weren’t for Kurt, I’d be taking him to Winter Formal.”

Tamara laughed.

“As if. There’s no way you’d ask a guy out.”

“I don’t know. You might be surprised.”

“It’s a moot point anyway. I’ll find someone to take.”

“You could always take Josh,” Candace suggested.

“You’re not setting me up with Josh, so just forget it.”


“Find out for me, though, if Santa needs a Mrs. Claus,” Tamara said.

“You’re going to find some way to be the Christmas queen, aren’t you?” Candace asked.

“Even if I have to marry old Saint Nick.”

They both laughed.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Before the Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard

What I Thought:

I am a HUGE Jane Austen fan, so when I heard about Linore's book, I had to read it! She really has the language of Jane down pat. She even has Jane's humor, which is tougher to do than the language. I laughed and giggled with and at her characters throughout the book. This is an inspirational Regency book, so it has a lot more God stuff than Jane did, but all in all, it was the closest thing to Jane Austen I've ever read. I give it four out of five stars! I will be sure to read all of the books that Linore writes. SUCH FUN!

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Before the Season Ends

Harvest House Publishers (December 1, 2008)


Linore Rose Burkard lives with her husband, five children, and ninety-year-old grandmother in southeastern Ohio. She homeschooled her children for ten years. Raised in New York, she graduated magna cum laude from the City University of New York (Queens College) with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. Ms. Burkard wrote Before the Season Ends because she could not find a book like it anywhere. "There are Christian books that approach this genre," she says, "but they fall short of being a genuine Regency. I finally gave up looking and wrote the book myself." She has begun four other works of fiction in the category.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 12.99
Paperback: 348 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (December 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736925511
ISBN-13: 978-0736925518


Chesterton, Hertfordshire



Something would have to be done about Ariana.

All winter Miss Ariana Forsythe, aged nineteen, had been going about the house sighing.

“Mr. Hathaway is my lot in life!”

She spoke as though the prospect of that life was a great burden to bear, but one which she had properly reconciled herself to. When her declarations met with exasperation or reproach from her family—for no one else was convinced Mr. Hathaway, the rector, was her lot—she usually responded in a perplexed manner. Hadn't they understood for an age that her calling was to wed a man of the cloth? Was there another man of God, other than their rector, available to her? No. It only stood to reason, therefore, that Mr. Hathaway was her lot in life. Their cold reception to the thought of the marriage was unfathomable.

When she was seventeen, (a perfectly respectable marrying age) she had romantic hopes about a young and brilliant assistant to the rector, one Mr. Stresham. It was shortly after meeting him, in fact, that she had formed the opinion the Almighty was calling her to marry a man of God. Mr. Stresham even had the approval of her parents. But the man took a situation in another parish without asking Ariana to accompany him as his wife. She was disappointed, but not one to give up easily, continued to speak of “the calling,” waiting in hope for another Mr. Stresham of sorts. But no man came. And now she had reached the conclusion that Mr. Hathaway--Mr. Hathaway, the rector, (approaching the age of sixty!) would have to do.

Her parents, Charles and Julia Forsythe, were sitting in their comfortably furnished morning room, Julia with a cup of tea before her, and Charles with his newspaper. A steady warmth was emanating from the hearth.

“What shall we do about Ariana?” Mrs. Forsythe, being an observant mama, had been growing in her conviction that the situation called for some action.

“What do you suggest, my dear?” Her husband reluctantly folded his paper; he knew his wife wanted a discussion of the matter and that he would get precious little reading done until she had got it.

She held up a folded piece of foolscap: the annual letter from Agatha Bentley, Charles’s sister, asking for Alberta, the eldest Forsythe daughter, for the season in London. It had arrived the day before.

Aunt Bentley was a childless wealthy widow and a hopeless socialite. For the past three years she had written annually to tell her brother and his wife why they ought to let her sponsor their eldest daughter for a London season. She owned a house in Mayfair (could anything be more respectable than that?) and knew a great deal of the big-wigs in society. She had, in fact, that most important of commodities which the Forsythes completely lacked: connexions. And as Charles’s family were her only living relatives, she was prepared--even anxious--to serve as chaperon for her niece.

Much to the lady's frustration, Julia and Charles had annually extinguished her hopes, replying to her letters graciously but with the inevitable, “We cannot countenance a separation from our child at this time,” and so on. Charles was unflinching on this point, never doubting his girls would reap a greater benefit by remaining beneath his own roof. They knew full well, moreover, that Aunt Agatha could not hope, with all her money and connexions to find as suitable a husband for their offspring as was possible right in Chesterton.

Why not? For the profound reason that Aunt Bentley had no religion whatsoever.

And yet, due to the distressing state of affairs with Ariana, Julia wished to consider her latest offer. With the letter waving in her hand she said, “I think we ought to oblige your sister this year. She must be lonely, poor thing, and besides removing Ariana from the parish, a visit to the city could prove beneficial for her education.”

Ariana’s father silently considered the matter. His eldest daughter Alberta was as good as wed, having recently accepted an offer of marriage--to no one’s surprise--from John Norledge. Ariana, his second eldest, had been irksome in regard to the rector, but to pack her off to London? Surely the situation was not so dire as to warrant such a move.

“I think there is nothing else for it,” Mrs. Forsythe said emphatically. “Ariana is determined about Mr. Hathaway and, even though we can forbid her to speak to the man, she will pine and sigh and like as not drive me to distraction!”

Taking a pipe out of his waistcoat pocket (though he never smoked), Mr. Forsythe absently rubbed the polished wood in his fingers.

“I recall other fanciful notions of our daughter’s,” he said finally, “and they slipped away in time. Recall, if you will, when she was above certain her destiny was to be a missionary--to America. That desire faded. She fancies this, she fancies that; soon she will fancy another thing entirely, and we shan’t hear another word about the ‘wonderful rector’ again.”

Mrs. Forsythe’s countenance, still attractive in her forties, became fretful.

“I grant that she has had strong…affections before. But this time, my dear, it is a complicated affection for in this case it is the heart of the ah, affected, which we must consider. It has ideas of its own.”

“Of its own?”

Mrs. Forsythe looked about the room to be certain no one else had entered. The servants were so practiced at coming and going quietly, their presence might not be marked. But no, there was only the two of them. She lowered her voice anyway.

“The rector! I do not think he intends to lose her! What could delight him more than a young, healthy wife who might fill his table with offspring?”

Mr. Forsythe shook his head.”Our rector is not the man to think only of himself; he must agree with us on the obvious unsuitability of the match.”

The rector was Thaddeus Admonicus Hathaway, of the Church in the Village Square. Mr. Hathaway was a good man. His sermons were grounded in sound religion, which meant they were based on orthodox Christian teaching. He was clever, and a popular dinner guest of the gentry, including the Forsythes. If these had not been true of him, Mr. Forsythe might have been as concerned as his wife. Knowing Mr. Hathaway, however, Charles Forsythe did not think a drastic action such as sending his daughter to the bustling metropolis of London, was necessary.

Mrs. Forsythe chose not to argue with her spouse. She would simply commit the matter to prayer. If the Almighty decided that Ariana must be removed to Agatha’s house, then He would make it clear to her husband. In her years of marriage she had discovered that God was the Great Communicator, and she had no right to try and usurp that power. Her part was to pray, sincerely and earnestly.

Mr. Forsythe gave his judgment: “I fear that rather than exerting a godly influence upon her aunt, Ariana would be drawn astray by the ungodliness of London society.”

“Do you doubt her so much, Charles? This infatuation with Mr. Hathaway merely results from her youth, her admiration for his superior learning, and especially,” she said, leaning forward and giving him a meaningful look, “for lack of a young man who has your approval! Have you not frowned upon every male who has approached her in the past? Why, Mr. Hathaway is the first whom you have failed to frighten off and only because he is our rector! 'Tis little wonder a young girl takes a fanciful notion into her head!”

When he made no answer, she added, while adjusting the frilly morning cap on her head, “Mr. Hathaway causes me concern!”

Mr. Forsythe’s countenance was sober. “’Tis my sister who warrants the concern. She will wish to make a match for our daughter--and she will not be content with just any mister I assure you. In addition to which, a girl as pretty as our daughter will undoubtedly attract attention of the wrong sort.”

Julia was flustered for a second, but countered, “Agatha is no threat to our child. We shall say we are sending Ariana to see the sights, take in the museums and so forth. Surely there is no harm in that. A dinner party here or there should not be of concern. And Ariana is too intelligent to allow herself to be foisted upon an unsuitable man for a fortune or title.”

Too intelligent? He thought of the aging minister that no one had had to “foist” her upon. Aloud he merely said, “I shall speak with her tonight. She shall be brought to reason, depend upon it. There will be no need to pack her off to London.”

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Sword and the Flute (Matterhorn the Brave Series #1) by Mike Hamel

What I Thought: I totally enjoyed this book. It has lots of fun fantastical creatures as well as a great hero. Boys 9-12 especially will find the Matterhorn series engaging.

I've emailed several times with Mike Hamel. He really has a heart for kids. 6 out of 8 of the series has been published. Unfortunately, Amg has decided not to publish the last two! Please join with me to pray that Mike finds a wonderful publisher who will recognize his gift. THANKS!

It's the 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour! This is the very last Teen FIRST tour as Teen FIRST has merged with FIRST Wild Card Tours. If you wish to learn more about FIRST Wild Card, please go HERE.

and his book:

Amg Publishers (January 22, 2007)


Mike Hamel is a seasoned storyteller who has honed his skill over theyears by telling tall tales to his four children. He is the author of several non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles.

Mike and his wife, Susan, live in Colorado Springs, CO. Their four children are now grown and their two grand children will soon be old enough for stories of their own.

From His Blog's About Me:

I am a professional writer with sixteen books to my credit, including a trilogy of titles dealing with faith and business: The Entrepreneur’s Creed (Broadman, 2001), Executive Influence (NavPress, 2003), and Giving Back (NavPress, 2003). I also edited Serving Two Masters: Reflections on God and Profit, by Bill Pollard (Collins, 2006).

My most enjoyable project to date has been an eight-volume juvenile fiction series called Matterhorn the Brave. It’s based on variegated yarns I used to spin for my four children. They are now grown and my two grandchildren will soon be old enough for stories of their own.

I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado with my bride of 34 years, Susan.

As you read this blog, remember that I’m a professional. Don’t try this level of writing at home. You might suffer a dangling participle or accidentally split an infinitive and the grammarians will be all over you like shoe salesmen on a centipede.

BTW – I have been diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, an aggressive but treatable form of cancer.

Mike's Blog, Cells Behaving Badly, is an online diary about Wrestling with Lymphoma Cancer.

To order a signed edition of any of the 6 Matterhorn the Brave books, please visit the Matterhorn the Brave Website!

Product Details

List Price: 9.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 181 pages
Publisher: Amg Publishers (January 22, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0899578330
ISBN-13: 978-0899578330


Emerald Isle

Aaron the Baron hit the ground like a paratrooper, bending his knees, keeping his balance.

Matterhorn landed like a 210-pound sack of dirt.

His stomach arrived a few seconds later.

He straightened his six-foot-four frame into a sitting position. In the noonday sun he saw they were near the edge of a sloping meadow. The velvet grass was dotted with purple and yellow flowers. Azaleas bloomed in rainbows around the green expanse. The black-faced sheep mowing the far end of the field paid no attention to the new arrivals.

“Are you okay?” the Baron asked. He looked as if he’d just stepped out of a Marines’ recruiting poster. “We’ll have to work on your landing technique.”

“How about warning me when we’re going somewhere,” Matterhorn grumbled.

The Baron helped him up and checked his pack to make sure nothing was damaged. He scanned the landscape in all directions from beneath the brim of his red corduroy baseball cap. “It makes no difference which way we go,” he said at last. “The horses will find us.”

“What horses?”

“The horses that will take us to the one we came to see,” the Baron answered.

“Are you always this vague or do you just not know what you’re doing?”

“I don’t know much, but I suspect this is somebody’s field. We don’t want to be caught trespassing. Let’s go.”

They left the meadow, walking single file through the tall azaleas up a narrow valley. Thorny bushes with loud yellow blossoms crowded the trail next to a clear brook. Pushing one of the prickly plants away, Matterhorn asked, “Do you know what these are?”

“Gorse, of course,” the Baron said without turning.

“Never heard of it.”

“Then I guess you haven’t been to Ireland before.”

“Ireland,” Matterhorn repeated. “My great-grandfather came from Ireland.”

“Your great-grandfather won’t be born for centuries yet.”

Matterhorn stepped over a tangle of exposed roots and said, “What do you mean?”

“I mean we’re in medieval Ireland, not modern Ireland.”

“How can that be!” Matterhorn cried, stopping in his tracks. “How can I be alive before my great-grandfather?”

The Baron shrugged. “That’s one of the paradoxes of time travel. No one’s been able to figure them all out. You’re welcome to try, but while you’re at it, keep a lookout for the horses.”

Matterhorn soon gave up on paradoxes and became absorbed in the paradise around him. The colors were so alive they hurt his eyes. He wished for a pair of sunglasses. Above the garish gorse he saw broom bushes and pine trees growing to the ridge where spectacular golden oaks crowned the slopes. Birdsongs whistled from their massive branches into the warm air. Small animals whispered in the underbrush while larger game watched the strangers from a distance.

The country flattened out and, at times, they glimpsed stone houses over the tops of hedgerows. They steered clear of these and any other signs of civilization. In a few hours, they reached the spring that fed the brook they had been following. They stopped to rest and wash up.

That’s where the horses found them.

There were five strikingly handsome animals. The leader of the pack was from ancient and noble stock. He stood a proud seventeen hands high—five-foot-eight-inches—at the shoulders. He had a classic Roman face with a white star on his wide forehead that matched the white socks on his forelegs. His straight back, sturdy body, and broad hindquarters suggested both power and speed. A rich coppery mane and tail complemented his sleek, chestnut coat.

The Baron held out an apple to the magnificent animal, but the horse showed no interest in the fruit or the man. Neither did the second horse. The third, a dappled stallion, took the apple and let the Baron pet his nose.

“These horses are free,” the Baron said as he stroked the stallion’s neck. “They choose their riders, which is as it should be. Grab an apple and find your mount.”

While Matterhorn searched for some fruit, the leader sauntered over and tried to stick his big nose into Matterhorn’s pack. When Matterhorn produced an apple, the horse pushed it aside and kept sniffing.

Did he want carrots, Matterhorn wondered? How about the peanut butter sandwich? Not until he produced a pocket-size Snickers bar did the horse whinny and nod his approval.

The Baron chuckled as Matterhorn peeled the bar and watched it disappear in a loud slurp. “That one’s got a sweet tooth,” he said.

The three other horses wandered off while the Baron and Matterhorn figured out how to secure their packs to the two that remained. “I take it we’re riding without saddles or bridles,” Matterhorn said. This made him nervous, as he had been on horseback only once before.

“Bridles aren’t necessary,” Aaron the Baron explained. “Just hold on to his mane and stay centered.” He boosted Matterhorn onto his mount. “The horses have been sent for us. They’ll make sure we get where we need to go.”

As they set off, Matterhorn grabbed two handfuls of long mane from the crest of the horse’s neck. He relaxed when he realized the horse was carrying him as carefully as if a carton of eggs was balanced on his back. Sitting upright, he patted the animal’s neck. “Hey, Baron; check out this birthmark.” He rubbed a dark knot of tufted hair on the chestnut’s right shoulder. “It looks like a piece of broccoli. I’m going to call him Broc.”

“Call him what you want,” the Baron said, “but you can’t name him. The Maker gives the animals their names. A name is like a label; it tells you what’s on the inside. Only the Maker knows that.”

Much later, and miles farther into the gentle hills, they made camp in a lea near a tangle of beech trees. “You get some wood,” Aaron the Baron said, “while I make a fire pit.” He loosened a piece of hollow tubing from the side of his pack and gave it a sharp twirl. Two flanges unrolled outward and clicked into place to form the blade of a short spade. Next, he pulled off the top section and stuck it back on at a ninety-degree angle to make a handle.

Matterhorn whistled. “Cool!”

“Cool is what we’ll be if you don’t get going.”

Matterhorn hurried into the forest. He was thankful to be alone for the first time since becoming an adult, something that happened in an instant earlier that day. Seizing a branch, he did a dozen chin-ups; then dropped and did fifty push-ups and a hundred sit-ups.

Afterward he rested against a tree trunk and encircled his right thigh with both hands. His fingertips didn’t touch. Reaching farther down, he squeezed a rock-hard calf muscle.

All this bulk was new to him, yet it didn’t feel strange. This was his body, grown up and fully developed. Flesh of his flesh; bone of his bone. Even hair of his hair, he thought, as he combed his fingers through the thick red ponytail.

He took the Sword hilt from his hip. The diamond blade extended and caught the late afternoon sun in a dazzling flash. This mysterious weapon was the reason he was looking for firewood in an Irish forest instead of sitting in the library at David R. Sanford Middle School.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Tag

Answer these questions and then tag a person or two. Post these questions on your blog and link back to Kim at My Book Reviews and More.

This is a short quiz since we are all so busy this time of year.

1. What is your very first Christmas memory?

Pictures speak louder than words, as the saying goes...so here is my first Christmas memory. I'm the one with the doll. I remember just LOVING that doll. Can you tell this was in the 70's? Nice pants I'm wearing, eh? The other cuties are my sisters. From left to right: Kim, Margie, and Karen.

2. Do you have a favorite Christmas gift?

My husband, then my fiance, was in Germany. My sister was getting married around Christmas, so Dave worked it out on the sly to come. He had himself 'delivered' to my house in a HUGE box with a big red bow. That was the bestest Christmas gift ever!

3. Have you ever celebrated Christmas outside of your country?

Yes. I was called up for Operation Joint Guard in 1997. I spent that Christmas on a make-shift Army base in Taszar, Hungary.
The Army actually did an awesome job of it...we had SO much food in that big Mess tent. I ate with my roommates and a few other soldiers. My husband was at home in Kansas with our then 2 year old son. It was a hard year. Here is a page from my journal/ sketchbook. Someday, I plan to put it all on a blog of its own. My scanner isn't attached to my computer right now, so I've taken some pictures of my pictures! Here's an excerpt from my journal...Hope you enjoy...

19 Dec 97

We went to visit an orphanage and celebrate Christmas with the Children.

They were so excited to see us--there was a program planned and food to eat. When we arrived, we were greeted with a chocolate swirl bread from one of the house mothers.

The children were pretty shy at first. Once we came inside, they gave us a cider drink and began the performance. An older boy about 12 years old, played a stringed instrument solo--then the next song three of the younger children sang Christmas carols for us.

I remember one of the boys especially. We were all standing in a circle around the children who were singing. One of the smaller boys was huddled by the legs of one of the house mothers. he looked so sad and afraid. We would try to smile at him, but he would shy away...so scared of all these people who didn't speak his language. When the program ended, we played with the children, made cookies, danced...then we brought in some candy.

The little boy warmed up some. He still had trouble looking at us, and he would quickly swipe out the candy from our hands.

They fed us some goulash and bread two at a time. Some of the soldiers went out to see the older children's house.

Then we brought out the presents! That boy warmed up even more. Delight began to show, and you could almost read on his face that: "Hey, these American people aren't that bad! They are just like me and like to have fun too!" He actually was sad that we had to leave. It was such a treat to see his evolution. I miss seeing that joy on children's faces--the discovery and learning that shows all over their faces.

It was wonderful to be with kids at this time of year and give them a little happiness too.

4. What is your favorite Christmas decoration?

In 7th grade I painted and sewed two stockings for an art project. They are hanging over the fireplace right now. Here's what they look like:

5. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

We have Hickory farms meat and cheese with crackers, grapes, and cookies on Christmas Eve as we watch Christmas movies! I just LOVE that! We also do an advent calendar every year...here's a picture of Evan putting up one of the days. The boys take turns.

6. Have you ever had a white Christmas?

Yes! In Kansas! What a delight that was.

7. Have you ever gone Christmas caroling?

Several times. In fact, we are going to be doing it next week with my parents. They are organizing it for the church, going to members who cannot make it to church due to illness.

8. What is your favorite Christmas movie or story?

A Christmas Story...I want a Red Rider B-B Gun with a stock on the shoot and a thing which tells time! I love that movie so much. Daddy's gonna kill Ralphie! LOL.

Do you have a Christmas link you would like to share?


Now for the tagging:

Camy Tang

Deena Peterson

Margaret Chind

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Jesus Who Never Lived: Exposing False Christs and Finding the Real Jesus by H. Wayne House

It's the 15th, time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Non~FIRST will be merging with FIRST Wild Card Tours on January 1, 2009...if interested in joining, click HERE!)

The feature author is:

and his book:

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2008)


H. Wayne House (ThD, JD) is a Distinguished Research Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Faith Evangelical Seminary (Tacoma, WA). and Adjunct Professor of Law, Trinity Law School of Trinity International University. He is the New Testament editor of the Nelson Study Bible and Nelson Illustrated Bible Commentary, and the General Editor of Nelson Exegetical Commentary (42 vols), Israel: the Land and the People, and Charts of Bible Prophecy, among the 30 books that he has authored, co-authored, or edited.

Dr. House has been a professor of biblical studies, theology or law for more than thirty years at such places as Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon; Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas; Simon Greenleaf School of Law, Anaheim, California; Michigan Theological Seminary, Plymouth, Michigan, and Trinity Graduate School and Trinity Law School, Santa Ana, California, California campus of Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL. Through this internet office we hope to help those who are interested in several topics within apologetics, including Christianity and culture, law, science, cultism, philosophy, theology, and biblical studies. Dr. House also leads Bible study tours to Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Rome, Greece, and Turkey.

Visit his Website:

Product Details

List Price: 13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736923217
ISBN-13: 978-0736923217


What’s It All About?

In the Broadway play and later film Jesus Christ Superstar, Mary Magdalene asks, “What’s it all about?” as she tries to figure out who this man called Jesus really is. Certainly there are aspects about the song she sings, and suggestions made in the play, contrary to what we know from the canonical Gospels about the relationship of Mary and Jesus. But she does pose some important issues. She is puzzled about how to relate to Jesus as she has with other men, and this association with Him has made major changes in her emotions, actions, and thoughts. The reason she struggles is her perception that “he’s just a man.” If Jesus is just a man, then why does He captivate her so and cause her to evaluate herself to the depths of her soul? Such questions about Jesus and the impact of His ministry, death, and resurrection have been asked for two millennia.

Every year around Christmas and Easter the news media show an interest in Jesus. Rarely do they speak to people who believe in the Jesus who has been worshipped by the church since its earliest period until now. Rather, the fascination is with a Jesus re-imaged by people who have little interest in the historical record preserved in the New Testament.

This interest in Jesus, unconnected to the earliest tradition and history we have of Him, is not a new phenomenon. Toward the end of the first century of the Christian era, perceptions of Jesus began to arise that were different from what He said about Himself as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and proclaimed by the apostle Paul. Jesus has become the favorite of ancient heretics, founders of various world religions, modern novelists, Hollywood and documentary filmmakers, New Age teachers, adherents of popular religion, and over-the-edge liberal scholars. He is by far the most popular, and possibly most distorted, figure of history.

When Christianity was less than a hundred years old, we find two groups at different ends of the spectrum in their views of Jesus. One Jewish group, known as the Ebionites (late first century), accepted Jesus as the Messiah from God, acknowledged His humanity, but rejected His deity. On the other side were the Gnostics (early second century), who accepted Jesus as a divine figure but denied His true humanity. This rise of Gnosticism coincides with the demise, though not extinction, of Jewish Christianity, toward the end of the first century and beginning of the second century. Such views of the Christ were rejected by the apostolic church, and the view supported by the New Testament was finally put in creedal form, in a number of creeds, by the end of the fifth century.

Since those early centuries various religions have been enamored of Jesus. Eastern religions see Jesus as one of the avatars, or manifestations of God, and Islam considers Him a prophet (see chapter 8 for both topics). In the former, Jesus is an Eastern mystic, sometimes even viewed as having been trained in India, and in the latter as one who promoted Islam.

Muhammad was a pagan who had contact with Jews and Christians from Arabia and finally became monotheistic, in the first quarter of the seventh century after Christ embracing one of the over 300 Arabian deities: Allah, the moon god. In his limited investigation into Christianity, he came to believe, as is recorded in the Qur’an, that Jesus was born of a virgin, was sinless throughout His life, performed miracles, ascended to God, and will come again in judgment. He acknowledged all of these things about Jesus, considering none of these to be true of himself. Nonetheless, Jesus is never considered more than one of the prophets of Islam; He is not God in the flesh. Inside the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, the walls are inscribed with statements that God does not have a Son, specifically addressed against the Christian doctrines of the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity. As we shall see in a later chapter, Muhammad and his followers misunderstood the Christian doctrine of God.

In the eighteenth century, with the Enlightenment came skepticism about Christianity and absolute truth in religion. Biblical scholars and philosophers began to scrutinize claims that Jesus was more than human, and for over 200 years a search, or “quest,” for the historical Jesus has been pursued. We have now entered the third quest. While many within the second quest remain skeptical, there is growing support among some in the third quest for the credibility of the Jesus portrayed in the New Testament. In contrast to those who have little regard for biblical and extrabiblical history, scholars of both liberal and conservative persuasion now agree that within a couple of years following the death of Christ, the church preached a consistent message about His death and resurrection. Christ’s followers considered Him both God and man, Lord and Savior. And those who became believers in the latter part of the first century and early second century continued to accept Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels. The church’s belief in Jesus’ deity and humanity did not begin with the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, as encouraged by the Emperor Constantine; that belief was present from the church’s very beginning.

The Importance of Jesus

Though contemporary novelists and media sensationalists never tire of trying to find some new angle on Jesus to attract an audience, most serious historians and biblical scholars are impressed with the evidence in the Gospels for the Jesus who lived, taught, performed miracles, died, was buried, and rose again from the dead. An early twentieth-century composition by a devoted believer captures the wonder of Jesus:

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn’t go to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself.

He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.

While He was dying, His executioners gambled for His garments, the only property He had on earth. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one solitary life.

But believers in the divine Jesus aren’t the only ones who admire Him. Marcus Borg, a member of the Jesus Seminar and distinguished professor emeritus of philosophy and religion at Oregon State University, speaks as a skeptical historian about the significance and uniqueness of Jesus:

The historical Jesus is of interest for many reasons. Not least of these is his towering cultural significance in the nearly two thousand years since his death. No other figure in the history of the West has ever been accorded such extraordinary status. Within a few decades of his death, stories were told about his miraculous birth. By the end of the first century, he was extolled with the most exalted titles known within the religious tradition out of which he came: Son of God, one with the Father, the Word become flesh, the bread of life, the light of the world, the one who would come again as cosmic judge and Lord. Within a few centuries he had become Lord of the empire that had crucified him.

For over a thousand years, thereafter, he dominated the culture of the West: its religion and devotion, its art, music, and architecture, its intellectual thought and ethical norms, even its politics. Our calendar affirms his life as a dividing point in world history. On historical grounds alone, with no convictions of faith shaping the verdict, Jesus is the most important figure in Western (and perhaps human) history.

These words of exuberant praise from a historian who does not accept Jesus as God in the flesh further indicates the amazing manner in which a human being was able to draw devoted followers by the magnetism of His life and teachings. Jaroslav Pelikan, noted historian of Yale University, has said of Jesus,

Regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western culture for almost twenty centuries. If it were possible, with some sort of supermagnet, to pull up of that history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, how much would be left? It is from his birth that most of the human race dates its calendars, it is by his name that millions curse and in his name that millions pray.

The world would be a considerably different place, with far less progress, peace, and hope than we possess today, had He not lived.

Liking Jesus Without Knowing Him

Just about everyone likes Jesus. How could they not, in view of the outstanding reception He has received throughout history, right? Not really. Much of the fascination with Jesus comes from those who really don’t know much about Him. Were He to confront them with His teachings and call them to a life of obedience to His will, they might be part of the recalcitrant crowd crying out, “Crucify, crucify him!” (Luke 23:21).

Today a large number of people say they are attracted to Jesus but dislike His church. They see within the church people who are inconsistent in their practice of Christian ethics and fail to follow what they understand to be the teachings of Jesus. The church is viewed as judgmental, whereas Jesus said not to judge. The church speaks against sins such as homosexual relationships, whereas Jesus loved all people regardless of their sin, such as the woman caught in adultery. The church has interest in political matters, but Jesus did not involve Himself in politics and worked only to ease people’s burdens. (Whether these notions are true or not will be briefly discussed in chapter 12.)

This attempt to understand Jesus is often done without any reference to what we really know about Him. We simply guess who He is and how He acted—most often, how we think He ought to be and act to be acceptable to the twenty-first-century mind. Apart from the appeal to divine revelation, this is the manner in which He has been viewed over the centuries, including the century in which He lived on earth.

“Who Do People Say That I Am?”

As Jesus traveled with His disciples to Caesarea Philippi, He posed an important question: “Who do people say that I am?” (Mark 8:27). The response to this question divides light and darkness, death and life. The disciples said that some believed Him to be an important prophet, but the apostles—specifically Peter—proclaimed His deity, a truth revealed to him by the Father. It is this authentic Christ, based on credible biblical and extrabiblical sources, whom we must encounter.

Each of us is confronted with important questions and priorities in this life. Some are of minor importance, but others have lasting, even eternal significance. The most important issue we must squarely confront is our relationship with God and, consequently, our final destiny. This is true not only for people today, it was also important in the first century when Jesus the Messiah came to earth. This is evident in the words of Christ that if people did not believe that He was “from above” (heaven), they would die in their sins (John 8:21-24).

Jesus the Prophet of God

In general, people liked Jesus Christ, as is true even today. The Scripture says that “the common people heard him gladly” (Mark 12:37). Saying this, however, does not mean they always understood His message (Matthew 13:10-17) or understood who He was:

When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:13-17).

The people during that time enjoyed what so many of us greatly desire—personal communication with the Son of God—yet they failed to understand Him. Many of them were miraculously fed and healed by Him. They heard His word with their own ears and saw Him with their own eyes. No doubt many also touched Him with their hands. To have the opportunity these people enjoyed seems too wonderful to imagine.

But when Jesus asked the disciples who the people thought He was, they cited many important figures of Jewish history, from John the Baptist (apparently thought to have been raised from the dead) to Elijah, who was to be forerunner of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5), to Jeremiah, who confronted the Northern Kingdom of Israel for its sins, or to some other prophet, as seen below:

John the Baptist. John the Baptist would have been a natural choice for the identification of Jesus, particularly by those who had not encountered John personally and maybe hadn’t heard the news of his death. John spent his ministry in the desert, baptizing in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, whereas the people in view here are in Galilee or maybe the Golan. Otherwise it seems unlikely they would have made such a connection, unless they believed that Jesus was the resurrected John, which is what Herod Antipas thought: “At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus and said to his servants, ‘This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him’” (Matthew 14:1-2). In the words of D.A. Carson:

His conclusion, that this was John the Baptist, risen from the dead (v. 2), is of great interest. It reflects an eclectic set of beliefs, one of them the Pharisaic understanding of resurrection. During his ministry John had performed no miracles (John 10:41); therefore Herod ascribes the miracles in Jesus’ ministry, not to John, but to John “risen from the dead.” Herod’s guilty conscience apparently combined with a superstitious view of miracles to generate this theory.

Though Herod’s superstition may be the cause for his comments, such a view is not unheard of in literature that precedes the New Testament. Albright and Mann say, “)The reappearance of dead heroes was a well-known theme in contemporary Jewish thought…[Second Maccabees 15:12-16] speaks of Jeremiah and Onias appearing to Judas Maccabaeus, and [2 Esdras 2:18-19] refers to the coming of Isaiah and Jeremiah.”

Elijah. Identifying Jesus as Elijah may appear surprising, except that Jesus’ ability to do miracles and the expectation of Messiah’s coming might have caused the people to believe He was preparing the way for the Messiah in agreement with Malachi’s prophecy:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet

Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

—Malachi 4:5 nkjv

The disciples had similar expectations about Elijah, whom Jesus connected to John the Baptist as His forerunner (Matthew 17:10-12).

There are indeed many similarities between Elijah and Jesus. Elijah exercised control over the forces of nature, telling Ahab his land would have no precipitation for several years (1 Kings 17:1-2).

In the midst of this judgment against Israel, God sent Elijah to the Phoenician city of Zarephath of Sidon, to a widow and her son who were facing starvation. To test her faith, Elijah asked her to make him some bread from the handful of flour and the little oil she had left. After she complied with Elijah’s request, the jar of flour and the jug of oil did not become empty until the famine ended (17:14-16).

Later, the woman’s son died, and the prophet of God brought him back to life (17:17-24). These spectacular miracles performed for a non-Israelite mother and her son reveal not only the power of God but also the love of God for all people.

Those people who saw the ministry and attitude of Jesus no doubt considered Him to be like Elijah because He also controlled the forces of nature. On the mountain near the shore of the Lake of Galilee He multiplied bread and fish (Matthew 15:29-38), and He raised a widow’s son who had died (Luke 7:11-17).

Jeremiah. The last prophet to whom Jesus is likened is Jeremiah. What in the life and character of Jeremiah served as a basis for comparison with Jesus?

Donald Hagner says there are a “number of obvious parallels between Jesus and Jeremiah, such as the preaching of judgment against the people and the temple, and especially in suffering and martyrdom.” The message of Jeremiah was God’s judgment against an unfaithful people (Jeremiah 1:16). Jesus presented a similar kind of message when He pronounced woe against Chorazin and Bethsaida (Matthew 11:20-24).

Jesus offered healing and solace to the sick and downtrodden, but to the proud and rebellious, the words of this “prophet from Nazareth” (Matthew 21:11) were sharp and powerful. Another point of similarity may be Jesus’ cleansing of the temple and His indictment of those there (Matthew 21:10-13), and Jeremiah’s rebuke in his famous temple sermon (Jeremiah 7:1-15). Both texts even accuse the unfaithful of making God’s house a “den of robbers.”

One of the prophets. Even if there was disagreement among the people about Jesus’ identity, one thing is certain: They knew He was special, for He was viewed at minimum as a prophet. Just listening and watching Jesus revealed that He was powerful and insightful. This testimony—that the people identified Jesus with the prophets—demonstrates they held diverse eschatological expectations but there was no mass acknowledgment of Him as Messiah. The occasional reference to Jesus as the Son of David, found several times before Matthew 16, does not contradict the lack of recognition of Him as Messiah.

Fortunately, we also see among some non-Jews a different response. The Samaritan woman at the well first viewed Jesus as a Jewish man, then a prophet, then the Messiah, and finally the Savior (John 4:4-42).

Whether they believed He was God’s Messiah or one of the great prophets of Israel, all thought He was a person of great importance with divine authority and a powerful presence and message.

Messiah, Son of God

After the disciples responded to Jesus’ question about how the people viewed Him, He asked, “But who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29). Would the disciples have a more accurate perception of their master than the general populace? You would think that their intimate relationship with Jesus would have made His identity clear in their minds. Yet this is not what we find. Though Peter correctly says that Jesus is the Messiah (christos, Greek translation of Hebrew mashiach, “anointed one”), the Son of the living God (16:16), Jesus says that the knowledge that gave rise to this confession came from heaven rather than from human insight (Matthew 16:13-17).

Is this confession true? Or is Jesus no more than a man, as the character of Mary sings in Jesus Christ Superstar? The Jesus who came to earth 2000 years ago has spawned a myriad of ideas about who He was and is. No more important subject than this confronts us today. Even among those who do not embrace the bodily resurrection of the crucified Messiah and His claims to deity, there is considerable praise. As Borg said of Him, “On historical grounds alone, with no convictions of faith shaping the verdict, Jesus is the most important figure in Western (and perhaps human) history.”

But is He only this—or is He, as Peter confessed, the Messiah, the Son of the living God? Our crucial quest in this book is to discover the true Jesus among the various visions of Him that have been constructed since His death and resurrection.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday: Christmas

Amy's Saturday question is:

It's Christmas time and one of my favorite things to do is read Christmas themed books. Do you enjoy reading holiday themed books? Do you have any special book you read every year? Do you have a special devotional you like to use? (not fiction..I know!) Have you read any good Christmas books this year?

Believe it or not, this is the very first year that I am reading a Christmas book. I just started reading Finding Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn last night. It is really well written...I love the descriptive narrative. I feel the cold or warmth, I smell the scones, I taste the tea. So wonderful.

Also, for a devotional, my kids and I are reading The Gospel of Mark this month as well as His Upmost for My Highest. We do an advent calendar which has a scripture verse for each day and we stick on a character from the Nativity scene onto a poster. The boys really enjoy it. I'll have to take a picture when we do it tonight to show you what I mean.

I do plan on reading four more 'Christmas' books from Wild Card this month. I'm really looking forward to The Winter of Candy Canes by Debbie Viguié. The others will be O Little Town by Don Reid, Do You See What I See? by Ross Parsley (Non-Fiction), and Let Them Eat Fruitcake by Melody Carlson.

Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What Have You Done?

Hi everyone. I found this on Kim's Book Reviews and More who found it on Enroute to Life who found it on Everyday Moments. It's fun to do and I think you will like it also.

Feel free to do the same. Let's see what we have in common. :) All the things I have done I will put in bold face.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (sang)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis (we have them all over our yard in the summer!)
10. Sang a solo (at weddings)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (Yeah, that's a bright idea)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (questionable...I was in the Army you know.)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked (I'm crazy...just not stupid crazy)
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping (not sure if I can be catorgorized as 'skinny' LOL But I did in our backyard growing up!)
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise ( I took a day cruise in Hawaii...to Lanai)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke (I did this in an Army beer tent in Tazar, Hungary...yes, we really needed to be entertained. I sang the backup for that song that goes "In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight..." You know exactly which one I'm talking about. I was the "weembawhap" girl.)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie (Does an Army training film count?)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (It starts in April of next year! More about that soon!)
58. Taken a martial arts class (Does the US Army hand to hand combat count?)
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving (I may be crazy, but I'm not THAT crazy!)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (my husband has...but not me!)
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter (I was in one, but it didn't leave the ground...)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Seen the Lincoln Memorial in person
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt (Well, I did a crosstich piece for a quilt...)
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (Teeth count, right?...well, I also broke my pinkie toe...both of them as a matter of fact!)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (It was a mo-ped...and I didn't actually speed...I think that is impossible on a mo-ped. LOL)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (Look for it in August!)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (Does a fish count?)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (Does over the Internet count?)
92.Joined a book club (Gee...started one? Direct one? LOL)
93. Lost A Loved One
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (No, but I stuck my toe in it! It really STINKS!)
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone (not anymore)
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Totally copied a post from someone else's blog to your own (this one!)

Okay my total is 72.

There are some things on this list that I would love to do. Maybe someday. ;D Try it for yourself!
What have you done?

The Christmas Edition – first book in The Turtle Creek Edition series

I've only heard wonderful reviews about this one...and the author is a neat person. If you are looking for a good romance, I suggest you check this one out!

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Christmas Edition – first book in The Turtle Creek Edition series

The Wild Rose Press (November 21, 2008)


In Robin's words:

I am the Special Education Coordinator for Denton County Juvenile Justice Alternative Program. I work with at risk teens from fifth grade through high school. My husband and I have been married for thirty-one years and we have two grown children. The first two years of marriage, Rick and I traveled overseas as missionaries. Afterwards we served as pastors of a church in Illinois. Presently we live near Dallas, Texas. He is in business and I work for the school system. (My husband still makes yearly mission trips to India.)

To date, my literary works include approximately two hundred articles in magazines such as: Guideposts, Live, Lookout, Mennonite, Christian Reader, Decision, Breakthrough and Christianity Today. Other short stories appear in the books: A Match Made in Heaven, Stories from the Heart, The Evolving Woman, and the New York Times bestseller, In The Arms of Angels by Joan Wester-Anderson. Ann Spangler also used one of my stories in her book, Help! I Can’t Stop Laughing. Another two-dozen stories have been published in the Chicken Soup books. One story, Mom’s Last Laugh, was re-enacted for a PAX-TV program: It’s a Miracle. I co-authored a thriller, The Chase, for Revell. My second book, The Replacement, was released in June 2006. The Candidate was released July, 2007. I continue to publish short stories in magazines. Wildcard, a mystery, will be a spring 2009 release. The Christmas Edition releases Nov. 20. The Valentine Edition releases in January 2009.

Visit the author's shoutlife and website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 11.99
Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press (November 21, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601543301
ISBN-13: 978-1601543301


December 1

The usual winter blizzard blew into southern


Lucy Collins carefully maneuvered her car

through the snow that grew deeper with every gust

of wind. She parked directly in front of her family

owned business, The Turtle Creek Newspaper, just

as her brother, Mike, was making his second pass at

clearing away the snow from the drive with the

snow blower.

“Hey, Mike! Help me carry these inside, will

you?” Lucy called to him as she got out of her heated

car. A sharp wind sucked up her words and nearly

knocked her off balance.

Mike turned off the blower and cupped his hand

around his ear. “What did you say?” His breath

circled around his face in the frigid air.

“Help!” Lucy hollered. She popped the trunk and

pivoted her body in an exaggerated fashion-the way

models do when showcasing prizes on a game show.

She stepped to the other side and waved her hands,

palms up, along the food trays and her mother’s

crystal punch bowl set. Then she flashed her

younger brother her biggest smile.

Mike galloped up to the car just as another gust

of wind, hammered snow at them. “It’s freezing out

here! Even my nose hairs are frozen solid. You go on

in. I’ll get these as soon as I’m finished shoveling the


“Thanks.” Lucy gave him a kiss on the cheek. To

keep her balance, she gingerly walked across the

crunchy ice crystals and into the warm building.

Once inside, she tugged off one boot and then the

other, dropping them under her desk. She hung her

coat and scarf on the back of her swivel chair as she

looked around at the decorations of wreaths and

holly. A sprig of mistletoe hung over the empty desk

at the back. That would surely go to waste. Music

played loudly from her dad’s old stereo inside his


Christmas used to be her favorite holiday, but

after a disastrous end to her engagement, a couple of

years ago, this particular holiday now only served as

a dark reminder of broken promises. With prayer

and a loving family, Lucy was ready to start her life

again, which meant buying her own place right after

the first of the year. Working and living with the

same people was often stifling, especially when

they’re her parents.

Lucy’s mom was the cheerleader as well as the

gopher, making sure everyone had what they

needed, whereas Lucy’s father focused persistently

on getting the next edition out and on time.

Each year at Christmastime, however, Harold

Collins took off his publisher hat and donned

something completely different. The weeks wedged

between Thanksgiving and Christmas became about

assisting others. She loved it all and nothing could

ever take her away from this life.

The employees had finished packing up the last

of the boxes from the food drive which were now

stacked neatly, ready to be dropped off at area

shelters. Lucy wanted to acknowledge all the work

they’d done. “For a small cluster of people, we sure

accomplish a truckload of work, fast! These

donations will help many people down and out this

holiday season. Like all the other years we’ve

worked closely together and done a great job.”

Christmas was about unbridled joy but today, try as

she may, she still wasn’t feeling it. Maybe she could

fake it for everyone’s sake. Lucy lowered her head in

modesty and stated, “This is going to be a Christmas

of miracles.”

As if releasing faith into the air, everyone began

to punctuate her words with applause. Right on cue,

Harold Collins stepped out of his office wearing a hat

something like one of the elves might wear. He even

bobbed his head up and down to show off the cluster

of bells that dangled at the tip of the loopy crown.

Lucy couldn’t help but have her first laugh of the

day, along with the other employees.

“I know it’s still over a month until Christmas

but I thought you could use this now,” Harold said as

he produced a fan of festive red and green envelopes.

Squeals of delight resonated as they opened the

envelopes and saw the amount written on the checks

but none was as loud as Ulilla Langston. Lucy’s dad

had inherited her along with the paper when her

grandpa died. Ulilla was a beautiful, black woman

with hair swept close to her head in a French twist.

She carried weight around the place both literally

and figuratively.

“Harold and Margaret Collins,” she crowed, as

her hand fluttered to her chest. “No way can you

afford to give us this.”

“Nonsense!” Harold blustered, and politely

dismissed her words of protest with a wave. “It

should be three times this and you know it! You all

have worked effortlessly and clocked in many

overtime hours in order to get the newspaper out

each week. I am the one who is grateful. Merry


The bell above the front door jingled as Mike

walked in balancing the punch bowl along with the

holiday trays. “Where do you want these, sis?”

“Let me help with that.” Lucy took the top two

trays. “Take the rest into the break room. I’ll follow

you in.”

Margaret touched the sleeve of Lucy’s cardigan.

“Have you finished our Christmas cards yet?”

“I started a month ago and finally finished them

last night. Not only did I hand write each one, but

the envelopes are addressed and stamped.”

“Which of the photographs did you decide on?”

“I thought I told you that all ready. Never mind,

there’s one in my desk I’ll show you.” Lucy set down

the trays. From the desk drawer, she took a single

envelope and handed it to her mother. “Here, I was

looking for something that would embody a perfect

form of truth when it comes to Christianity.”

Margaret stared at the card. A country church

was nestled into a hillside surrounded on all sides by

fresh snowfall. Above, the sky was brilliant blue.

Lucy looked over her mother’s shoulder. She

scrunched her face, second-guessing her

photographic choice. “Does it look okay?”

“It’s a whole lot more than okay. This is simply

breathtaking and looks professionally done. Lucy,

you should have put your logo somewhere on this

card so people would be aware that you are the one

who took this photograph of our church.” Margaret’s

eyes glistened.

“Not this time. I want people to focus on the

birth of our Savior and the hope He gives for our

lives. Mom, in the past year, I have become more

appreciative of the upbringing you and Dad gave

Mike and me and how you shared your faith which

has now become mine.” Lucy choked back her tears

and touched the silver cross she always wore at her


“Those words are the best gift you could ever

give to me.” Margaret hugged her daughter. “I want

nothing more this season than to see you happy.”

Lucy hugged back tightly. “I’m working hard on


“Lucy!” Mike called from the break room. “I

thought you said you were following me in. I’m

making a mess of things trying to get the food set


“Ah, I better go rescue the food from Mike and

start the punch.” Lucy picked up the trays. “By the

way, it’s getting worse outside so could you suggest

to Dad that we better let everyone go home early.”

“I will, but right now, I want to lend you a


Lucy and Mike uncovered the trays of fruit,

cheese, and crackers. Margaret took her home baked

pastries from the refrigerator and arranged them on

top of doilies set on antique dessert plates. Mike

dumped plastic forks from the box into a basket and

then tore open the plates while Lucy poured the

punch into the bowl and added scoops of sherbet. “I

think we’re ready.”

Once everyone had gathered in the break room,

Harold asked one and all to join hands. Together

they asked for the Lord’s blessing. Then they dug in;

plates were quickly filled with condiments, the

routine appetizers, rolled pieces of meat, decorated

sugar cookies, and cinnamon rolls. That was just for

starters. Margaret kept laying out more and more


Lucy sat at the edge of her chair and sipped her

cup of punch. It was fun watching everyone enjoy

themselves. She closed her eyes and drank in their

laughter. This is what she needed, to be surrounded

by such love and acceptance.

The employees had all worked for her father for

years, so she not only knew their names but their

spouses and children. This is what she loved about

the business. It wasn’t work. It was family. At times

they even squabbled like it, too.

When there were only a few squares of

cantaloupe and crumbs of her mother’s cake left,

Lucy suggested, “Before we go home for the

weekend, let’s go around the room and name one gift

we want for Christmas. No limitations on the gift.

Miss Ulilla, would you like to start?”

The society column woman was clearly pleased

to go first. In her world, this was the correct order of

the universe and she didn’t even try to suppress her

smile. Instead she brushed crumbs from her bosom,

cleared her throat and stood to her feet. “Since Lucy

removed the limitations, what I really want for

Christmas are tickets for a Caribbean cruise under

my tree this year.”

“That’s sounds exciting. I feel pretty confident

you can talk Abe here into going along with you.”

Lucy gave the elderly custodian a wink. It was no

secret Abe had been after Ulilla for as long as she

could remember, but Ulilla always put him off.

Abe stepped right in without being asked, “The

gift I am wishing for is that I can buy those tickets

for Ulilla. One for her and one for me. Separate

cabins, of course.” He turned beet red.

After the laughter died down, Lucy went on to

ask her best friend, “What about you, Monica?”

“I’m hoping for money. Lots and lots of money.”

“Here I thought you’d ask for perfume. The

French kind,” Mike said. His lips curled into a

slow smile. For the first time, Lucy caught

something in the air between her best friend and her

brother and it wasn’t perfume. French or otherwise.

Harold set down his plastic plate with a hollow

thump. “The gift I want this year cannot be found

under my tree.”

“Harold.” Margaret touched his arm. “This isn’t

the time.”

“I think it is, Maggie. After being a family

owned business for the last fifty years, first with my

Papa and now on my own, it’s no secret I want to

keep that other newspaper from coming here. Living

in a small town like Turtle Creek, we can’t

withstand the extra competition. Heck, we can

barely make it as it is. We need to come up with

some ideas of how we’re going to generate more

sales, increase our advertisers and get more

subscribers.” He pulled off his elf hat and lowered

his eyes. His thumb rubbed a finger as he spoke “Or

this might just be the last time we stand together

like this for Christmas.” To everyone’s dismay,

Harold had spit out his worrying words. They spread

across the room.

Lucy frowned. Everything her dad said was the

truth. They all knew it.

“My turn!” Lucy picked up her father’s hat and

pulled it down over her ears. Everyone laughed. “My

Christmas gift is to hire a new editor who will knock

the socks off our readers with his fresh ideas and


“And how will you know this editor when he

comes through the front door?” Carol from

advertising asked.

“Because…” Lucy tapped her chin in thought.

“The man I have prayed for will write with heart.”

Unexpected tears gathered along the edges of her

eyes. The end of her nose tingled. “Anyone who can

move an audience with words is going to increase

circulation which will attract businesses to grab ad

space and make readers buy our paper.” She touched

her cross. I have my faith in you, Lord.

The front door jingled. Monica looked out into

the office. “Hey, guys, there’s an awesome looking

guy standing at the front counter. I believe Lucy’s

gift just arrived. Quick Lucy, say another prayer

while you have God’s attention.”

Lucy walked out of the break room with

shoulders squared, back straight. There he stood.

Tall, with sandy brown hair and wickedly wonderful

eyes. Cherry cheeks, too, thanks to the frosty

weather. His gray eyes were unsettling. He stood on

one foot and tapped one shoe against the other to

knock off the snow. Then he repeated the process

with the other shoe. Monica was right. He was a


“How may I help you?” Lucy folded her hands

together and placed them on the counter.

“I’m looking for Lucy Collins.” He stared her in

the eyes.

“You’ve found her.” Lucy heard laughter. She

turned around to see the doorway to the break room

was crowded with faces. All eyes were pinned on

them. Of course, she had to put on a good show for

them. Lucy turned back around and faced him.

Feeling cocky, she said, “I know why you’re here.”

“You do?” he seemed startled.

“Yes, you’re here about the ad I placed in this

week’s paper for an editor.”

His chin dropped and he was speechless for a

moment. “You’re…absolutely right. I did see it

advertised.” The man set his briefcase down and

popped it open. He started shuffling around the

inside of it. Papers rustled. Finally, he looked up

sheepishly. He had worried eyes. “I seem to have

forgotten my resume. Not a good way to start a job

interview. By the way, I’m Joe McNamara.”

Lucy shook his hand and then reached under

the counter for an application. She clamped it down

on a clipboard, slipped a pen underneath and

handed it to him. “I don’t need your resume but I do

need to know if you can write. When you’re done

filling this out, I want you to write an editorial for

me.” She slid a blank piece of paper toward him.

“On what subject?” he scratched the end of his


“You’re the editor so you get to decide.” She

slapped her hand down on the paper.

Joe nodded and then looked around for a place

to sit. He chose a chair from the waiting area. Lucy

watched him as he read the application and then

thoughtfully filled in the blanks. Every now and

then he looked up and caught her staring at him. He

smiled but she quickly looked away.

The Turtle Creek Newspaper employees began

to quickly leave. “Don’t stay too long, Lucy, or you’ll

be trapped in here for the weekend,” Abe warned her

on the way out. For the first time ever, Ulilla was on

his arm.

“I won’t be much longer. I am dreaming of a cozy

fire with hot chocolate.”

“That’s only one of the things I’m dreaming of!”

Ulilla gushed as she plunged through the doorway.

Shocked over Ulilla’s sudden change of heart, Lucy

couldn’t help but stare.

Finally Joe stood to his feet and handed the

clipboard back to her, the pen returned to the same

position as when she had handed it to him. Now it

was Joe’s turn to slide the paper across the counter

to her. Lucy looked at it. Maybe she missed

something. She flipped it over. Both sides were

blank. She looked at Joe quizzically.

“May I?” he asked nodding toward one of the


“Be my guest.” Lucy granted permission and

then caught her reflection in a window. She quickly

pulled off the Santa hat. Static electricity popped

around her head like a lightening rod. She knew she

was blushing and really hoped he wouldn’t notice.

Lucy watched as his long fingers flew across the

keyboard. Her keyboard. The tips of the fingers hit

the center of the keys with great accuracy. Tap-tap tap

the keys sank and rose again. She was close

enough to see the words without her glasses and

didn’t see any red squiggly lines. At least the fella

could spell.

“Psst!” Monica called from the break room.

Lucy turned around. “What?” she mouthed


With frantic movements, Monica motioned for

Lucy to come talk to her. When Lucy walked into the

room, everyone huddled around. “We need details.”

Lucy gave a deep sigh happy to oblige. “His

name is Joe McNamara. According to his

application, he’s from Chicago, so I guess he must be

relocating. He’s trying out for our paper by writing

an editorial for me.”

“Good idea,” Harold said while cramming the

last sugar cookie into his mouth.

“Why would he want to apply for a job with us?”

Mike asked suspiciously as he tied the top of a

plastic garbage bag closed.

“That’s easy to answer. We are the best

newspaper in the entire southern lakes region,”

Harold answered shooting bits of cookie from his

mouth like falling stars.

“Yea, right,” Mike panned as he tossed the bag

on top of the other bags.

“You have to start at a small paper and work

your way up to get into a big city paper,” Monica

explained as she slipped on her winter coat. Then

she winked at Mike. “He’s getting his start right

here with us.”

“Whoa, first I have to hire him, and once he

hears what the pay is, he may just hop back on the


“Finished,” a male voice spoke.

Everyone turned to look. Joe stood just feet

away, holding his paper out.

Lucy hoped he hadn’t heard everything. She

snatched the paper from him and furrowed her brow.

“That was fast.”

“Not when you have something burning inside

that you feel passionately about.”

She held it between her fingers and read aloud.

Saying Goodbye

by Joseph McNamara

What will I ever do without Cafe Books?

Ever since the announcement that the

independent bookseller was going out of business,

I've been a mess. The big chain stores serve a

purpose, sure, but they don't contain the atmosphere

and warmth that emulates from the owners of Cafe

Books. When I walk into their shop, it's like visiting

family. Mr. and Mrs. Myers always greet me and

everyone, with a genuine smile, and when are they

not armed with a recommendation for a new title

they know I'll enjoy? Just for me. They notice me. Me.

Cafe Books is where I first went whale hunting

with Melville and frog collecting with Steinbeck. How

can I forget all the murderous adventures I shared

with my good friend, Mike Hammer, or faced a scary,

yet Brave New World with Huxley? I’ve read more

than books on the leather sofa at Cafe Books. I've

made friends. Lived a million different lives. Cried

countless tears. And have laughed out loud so often,

and so hard, that my stomach still aches from the

memories alone.

How does one say good bye to such a place?

I started patronizing Café Books just off Kenzie

Avenue in Chicago about two years ago. And so when

the owners announced suddenly it would be going out

of business and closing its door yesterday, I made it a

point to stop by.

The room was busy with faithful shoppers who

felt this place was a stabilizing source in their

community. Lexie Jacobson, a 28-year-old hairstylist

scooped up discount novels and a couple of CDs. “I’m

sure going to miss this place,” she said with a shake

of her head. She was not alone with this feeling.

“It’s hard to find bookstores that are not part of a

national chain,” 35-year-old school teacher

Samantha Jones said with a sigh.

The sentiment was expressed again and again by

dozens of patrons.

In the never ending search for bigger and better,

give me the small and unique. Meet me at Café

Books. Help me say goodbye.

No one spoke. Lucy couldn’t take her eyes from

the page. The words evoked warmth and sentiment.

It was more than she had hoped for. He was it. This

was her Christmas gift.

It wasn’t the first sight of him that did it. It

wasn’t the endearing way he drummed his thigh

with the pen when he was nervously trying to figure

out what to write down on his application that

formed her opinion. Nor even his calm manner as he

slid his fingers across her keyboard that made the

difference. It was his words. These words. They were

simple and brilliant. Words that had taken the

breath from her soul. She looked up at him with new

eyes. He got her—yet how could that happen when

they only met minutes ago.

“Wow,” she gulped.

“Well, it was spontaneous.” Joe uneasily tugged

at his collar. “If I had more time, I could have done

much better.”

They smiled at each other as if there was more

to the words that hung in the air. Her mind was

wandering where it shouldn’t. “I need to clarify


“Clarify away, Ms. Collins.”


“Lucy,” he repeated in a sweet tone.

“Um, we can’t afford to pay you much. It’s

obvious you’re quite gifted so I’m not sure we’re what

you’re looking for in a newspaper.”

“The experience is what is valuable here.”

“How much notice do you need to give your old

place?” Harold stepped forward to ask. “The sooner

you can start the better.”

“Dad!” Lucy cut in as blood rushed to her face.

“Ah, my schedule is pretty well wide open, Sir. I

can start as soon as I’m needed, that is if I am hired.

I really don’t need much—a roof over my head

and...a new start.”

Lucy saw it in his eyes. He wasn’t kidding.

“You know, Harold, there is the small apartment

above our garage. Mr. McNamara could stay there

until he finds another place,” Margaret reminded


“I’ll take it,” Joe was quick to accept.

A gust of wind whipped through the building

when Monica opened the door. “Better get a move

on, people. I just heard on the radio that the

Interstate is closed down. The town is pretty well

socked in. It’s time for us to lock up and head for our

homes. I love you all but no way do I want to be

stuck in here with you.”

Everyone went for their coats.

“I better take you home, so I know you made it

safely,” Mike told Monica.

“If you shovel my walk too, there might be a

reward in it for you,” Monica winked as she nudged

his side with her elbow.

“I love rewards.”

“Mike, don’t be long. There are Christmas boxes

in the attic I need for you to get down for me,”

Margaret said following her son out to the parking

lot. “We’re decorating the tree tonight and you can’t

miss it.” She shut the door behind them.

“Ah, is there something you want me to sign? A

contract or something?” Joe asked, quickly looking

from Harold to Lucy.

“I never thought about a contract,” Lucy said,

wondering if they had anything the resembled a


“We don’t do contracts here. A shake of my hand

is how I operate.” Harold slid his arm down through

his winter jacket and out the opening. “You better

come along with us. You’ll never get back to the city


With a simple handshake, Lucy Collins’ day took

a new direction.