Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our hearts to yours!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Protection for Hire by Camy Tang

The latest book from Camy Tang, Protection for Hire, made my heart beat faster, my body giggle, and my stomach growl. Her writing is so much fun. I love her inner dialogue and the way she can make even the most serious scenes amusing. This new series promises to be exciting! It reminded me of a Bones episode, but Christian. The main character is 1/2 Japanese and 1/2 Irish, so you know she has a temper. Born into a Japanese mafia family, she becomes a Christian while in prison. When she gets out, she wants to stay away from her old life (and habits), but you know what they say about habits, don't you? She gets into lots of awkward spots, but with the help of a very cute lawyer, she is able to wiggle free. As always, Camy has lots of tantalizing food in her books. I inevitably end up  eating some Asian food while reading. I give this book 5 stars...go out and buy it today! You'll have a lot of fun reading.

A Heart Renewed (Prescott Pioneers 2) by Karen Baney

My 2 Cents: Although I am not a fan of historical fiction especially, prairie stuff, I have heard a lot of good things about this series. You may want to check out the first book in this series first. I have the first chapter for it on the FIRST blog here: A Dream Unfolding. The second book's chapter is below. Hope you enjoy!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Karen Baney (April 17, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karen Baney for sending me a review copy.***


Karen Baney, in addition to writing Christian historical fiction and contemporary novels, works as a Software Engineer.  Her faith plays an important role both in her life and in her writing.  Karen and her husband make their home in Gilbert, Arizona, with their two dogs.  She also holds a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University.

Visit the author's website.


Headstrong.  Unconventional.  Until life turns upside down…

Julia Colter struggles to accept life under her controlling brother’s greed.  The suitors he selects would benefit him, but are far from the ideal husband for her.  When her rebellion against her brother puts her life at risk, she turns to her friend for help.

Adam Larson longs to train horses and plans to head west to the Arizona Territory to see his dreams fulfilled.  When his sister’s best friend shows up in the middle of the night, he agrees to help her flee.  The decision changes his life, in more ways than he expected.

Can Julia forget the pain from her past and open her heart to love?

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Karen Baney (April 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983548625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983548621


Star C Ranch, Texas

July 4, 1864

   “You cannot be serious, Reuben!” Julia Colter shouted, not caring that she might wake her niece and nephew from their afternoon nap.  Pacing back and forth across the length of the kitchen, she stopped in front of her older brother, her temper flaring almost as hot as the stove.  “He is balding and fat and twice my age!”
   “You will marry who I say!” Reuben thundered.  “I expect you to treat Mr. Hiram Norton with the upmost respect this evening.  He has shown great interest in you and the least you can do is be civil with the man.”
   “But, I could never love him!”
   As Reuben shoved her violently up against the wall, Julia’s breath left her lungs in a rush.  Digging his fingers into her arms, she could feel the bruises starting to form.  His brown eyes darkened with unrestrained anger as he glared down at her.  She swallowed in fear, stunned by his abrupt action.
   “Stop, you’re hurting me,” she said, trying to break free from his vice like grip.
   He raised his hand as if he meant to strike her—something he had never done before.  The action startled her to silence.  Instead of hitting her across the face, as she thought he might, Reuben returned his hands to her upper arms squeezing even harder.
   Leaning so close the heat of his breath warmed her cheeks, he said, “You have no idea what hurt is, Julia.  You are an insolent little whelp.  You will paste a smile on that tart little face of yours.  And you will do your best to win his affections or,” his voice menacing, “you will suffer my wrath, the likes of which you have yet to see.”
   Releasing his hold, he pushed her so that she tumbled to the floor in a heap.  As he turned to walk away, he added in a sinister tone, “It would be best if you get used to the idea of Hiram Norton and give up fanciful notions of love, dear sister.  You will not have that luxury.  The sooner you come to accept that, the better it will go for you.”
   She sat in stunned silence as Reuben stalked to his office down the hall.  Tears streaming down her face, Julia bolted to her feet, running out the front door of the ranch house to the nearby stables, still frightened by her brother’s brutal behavior.
   The smell of hay and horse assaulted her delicate senses as she selected a gentle mare.  Throwing her saddle on the horse’s back, she led her from the barn.  Once under the open blue skies, she shoved one foot into the stirrup, swinging her other leg over the mare, riding astride.  Nudging the mare into a full gallop, Julia fled to the one place she would always feel free—the back of a horse in the wide open pastures.
   Reuben may be her guardian now, but she had only to endure a few more years of this before she would be of age and in control of her life.  If only she could stop him from marrying her off before then.
   At seventeen, she considered herself too young to get married, though many women her age and younger married.  She wasn’t ready.  She didn’t pine for the responsibilities marriage entailed.  She liked her freedom.  But, when she was ready to marry, she would marry for love and not because Reuben wished it.
   Certainly, she would never marry Hiram Norton.  The thirty-seven year old rancher was the exact opposite of what Julia wanted for a husband.  His short stature and fading hairline made him look even older.  He had a reputation for loving excess.  When it came to food, his waistline showed the results of that love.  There were other unsavory aspects to his reputation as well which included rumors that he frequented the saloon and brothel.
   No, the man for Julia would be young and handsome.  His character would be impeccable, his honor undeniable.  Land, money, and wealth held no importance to her.  She only cared that her dream man would be able to provide for her and their family.
   As the wind tangled her long, sandy brown curls, she continued to press the horse for more speed—needing it to soothe her fear and anger.  In the distance she saw the herd of longhorns kicking up dust.  The sight sparked a memory of Will, the kinder, more honorable of the Colter brothers, sending her mind racing in another direction.  So many times he’d taken Julia out to the pasture, teaching her how to rope, ride, and work with the cattle.  Some thought such behavior unacceptable for a lady.  She was glad to learn these skills.  Should her handsome young dream man end up being a rancher, he might appreciate her ability to work the ranch by his side.
   Why hasn’t Will written?  The thought of Will brought fresh tears as memories of his hasty departure flooded her mind.  Not only had she buried her father, but she also lost the brother she was close to—all within a few short weeks.  Almost a year ago, following her father’s death, Reuben forced Will to leave the ranch when he had been deeded the house and ranch.  While Will and Reuben both received half of the herd and the financial holdings, Will was left with no home or land.  Unable to find anything close, Will moved to the Arizona Territory, leaving Julia behind.  Alone.
   The only time she heard from him was in November 1863.  Will wrote that he, his men, and his cattle arrived safely and set up their new home near the Granite Creek settlement in the Arizona Territory—wherever that was.  No other letters came.
   Despite the thirteen year age difference between Will and Julia, they adored each other.  She followed him everywhere, never far from his side even when he worked with the herd.  When she needed protecting, it was Will who came to her defense.
   Oh, how she could use his protection now.  If he were here, he would stop Reuben from forcing her to marry that awful Hiram Norton.
   But, he wasn’t here.  He was in a distant territory, far from Texas, far from her aid.  Her father left her in Reuben’s care—not Will’s—even though Will would have been the better choice as far as Julia was concerned.
   Their father never saw the evil that clouded Reuben’s heart and he knew nothing of his manipulative ways.  In her father’s eyes, Reuben was as good of a son as Will.  If her father knew of Reuben’s late nights in town or of his forceful tactics for bankrupting other ranchers and taking over their lands, he turned a blind eye.  She found it hard to fathom that father could have missed such thinly concealed behavior.
   As the mare started to struggle for breath, sides heaving with great effort, Julia eased up the pace.  She was so torn.  She had thought more than once to runaway to Arizona, but was afraid Reuben would find her and drag her back.  Now he wanted her to flirt with Hiram Norton and get him to marry her.  She had no desire to do what Reuben was asking.  Mr. Norton may be wealthy, but he was twenty years older than her.  There was something indecent in that alone.  Nothing about him or his character appealed to her.
   Realizing she was nearing the outer pasture, Julia turned the mare around to head back to the ranch house.  She did not want to risk angering Reuben further by being unprepared for their dinner guests.  Lord, please don’t make me have to marry that repulsive man.  Will always said you could work things together for good.  I am not seeing much good right now.  Please give me the strength to make it through this evening meal.
   As she pulled the mare to a stop in front of the stables, she slid off the horse.  One of the young cowboys, Bates, took the reins from her hand.
   “Miss Colter, you best hurry,” he said, nodding toward the lane leading to the ranch house.
   A cloud of dust at the far end of the lane indicated their guests were already arriving.  Julia shot a quick word of thanks to the friendly cowboy before picking up her skirts and running to the house.  As she threw the door open, panting for breath, she caught Reuben’s seething look.
   Rushing down the hall she slammed her bedroom door shut.  She splashed some water on her face, wiping away the dust from her ride.
   “Where have you been?” Mary’s panicked voice preceded her entrance into Julia’s room.  Reuben’s normally calm, quiet wife seemed rather anxious as she picked up the corset she laid out.
   “Whatever for?” came the squeaky, agitated response.
   Julia tore off her day dress, tossing it over a chair.  As Mary came to assist her with the corset, Julia took her last deep breath of the evening.  She hated the confining contraption.  Once the stays were tightened, she lifted her arms as Mary helped settle the lovely yellow silk down over her shoulders.
   “You should have been in here an hour ago,” Mary lamented.  “Now there is no possible way we can fashion your hair into ringlets.  The other women will think you don’t care about your appearance.”
   They would be correct, Julia thought.  “You fret, too much,” she replied, brushing out her tangled curls.  She would be content with twisting her unruly hair into a chignon, despite how much it fought against the pins.
   “Go on.  I’ll finish,” she instructed Mary, hoping to have a quiet moment to compose herself before entering the fray.
   Mary hesitated for a brief moment before softly exiting the room.  Taking as deep a breath as she could, Julia let it out in a heavy sigh.  Undoubtedly, Hiram Norton was already here, waiting for her in the other room.  Pasting a smile on her face, she squared her shoulders and left the solitude of her room.
    “Hiram,” Reuben said as Julia approached, “I do not believe you have met my sister, Julia.”
   It took every ounce of courage to hold her smile steady and extend her hand towards Mr. Norton’s rotund frame.  Taking her hand, he placed a sloppy kiss on top, before asking, “Reuben, where have you been hiding this lovely filly?”
   Filly?  The distasteful comment sickened her.
   “Mr. Norton, a pleasure to meet you,” Julia said with more decorum than she thought she possessed.  As soon as his hold lifted, she discretely wiped the back of her hand on her dress.
   “Miss Colter, you are absolutely stunning,” he replied, allowing his lustful gaze to rove over her neckline, down her curvy figure, making overtly inappropriate stops along the way.
   She fought to tamp down her mounting abhorrence.  As the guests were seated around the table, she eagerly helped Mary set out the food. 
   Still irritated by Mr. Norton’s uncouth comment, she decided to fight back as she took her seat.  “Mr. Norton, my brother tells me you have been very successful with your ranch, despite the Union’s blockade.  Tell me, how do you do it?”
   Reuben’s eyes narrowed slightly, letting her know he caught her barely hidden sarcasm.
   “My lovely Miss Colter, such matters are too complicated for your simple mind to understand.”
   Another mark against Mr. Norton—condescension towards women, she thought, keeping the sweet smile firmly in place.  Lobbing a spoonful of potatoes on her plate she waited for him to continue.
   “However, I shall endeavor to enlighten you,” he said with an air of superiority, snatching the potatoes from her hand.  “While the Union may have blockaded our route to drive cattle to the New Orleans market, they have made no such effort to stop us from driving to points north or west.  It seems that as long as we aren’t supplying the Confederate Army, they care little where we sell our cattle.  We have simply changed our route north to the railways in Missouri.  While I don’t care for the Union and their imposing ways, a profit is a profit.  And I have made significant gains by being one of the first Texans to sell to eastern markets by way of Missouri.”
   “Mr. Norton.”  As her irritation rose, Julia retorted, “If a large profit is to your liking, why not drive the cattle west towards the California market where prices are more than triple that of the eastern markets?”
   Reuben shifted in his chair uncomfortably.  His darkening eyes warned her to hold her tongue.  Julia knew she should have heeded the warning, but she preferred being forthright.  Let Mr. Norton find that out now.
   Mr. Norton laughed off her question, causing her to dislike the man even more.  “You are a spirited little woman, I will give you that.  But your comment shows your youth and your naivety.”
   Taking not one, but two large pork chops from the platter she handed him, he said, “While the prices west are much higher, so is the cost to drive the cattle such a great distance.  The length of time it takes to drive the cattle to California is almost three times as long as the northern route.  It is also much more dangerous.  There are many more Indians and cattle thieves westward.  It would simply not be profitable to drive the herd west.”
   His snooty tone grated on her nerves.  When she opened her mouth to speak, Reuben interrupted.  “Perhaps, dear sister, you should leave the business matters to men.  I’m sure you would be much more interested in knowing how Mrs. Withers’ new baby is faring.”
   Mrs. Withers quickly picked up the conversation, monopolizing both Julia and Mary’s time.  While Julia was surprised Reuben even knew the woman had a child, she was thankful for the opportunity to ignore Mr. Norton.
   As the conversation continued, she felt something brush against her knee then move away.  She kept her focus on Mrs. Withers’ overlong description of her young son and on eating the meal, until she felt the unmistakable presence of a man’s hand move above her knee.  She stole a glance and confirmed Mr. Norton’s hand rested most inappropriately on her thigh.  Angling her legs further away from him as discreetly as possible, Julia’s stomach churned.  When Mr. Norton pressed closer, she thought she might lose her dinner.  The man appeared to have no limits.
   Standing abruptly, she said, “If you’ll excuse me.  I’m not feeling quite myself.”  Without waiting for a reply she hurried to her room.

Your browser may not support display of this image.

   Reuben scowled after his sister.  Her behavior had been completely unacceptable, despite his attempt earlier in the day to reason with her.  This silly idea of marrying for love must have worked its way into her thinking from the stories their father told of their mother.  No one married for love.
   He certainly hadn’t.  While Mary was pleasant looking enough and easy to control, he did not love his wife.  He had married her to increase his social standing among the area ranchers—something his father never seemed to care about.  Her father had been one of the wealthier men in the area and he was easy to win over.  In fact, Reuben thought, most everyone he met was easy to manipulate—except Will and Julia.
   It didn’t matter.  Will was gone and out of the picture.  He was no longer a nuisance, even though it was Will’s fault that he was in such a financial mess.  The timing of Will leaving with half the herd and half the financial holdings was disastrous, leaving him unable to pay debts to some very powerful men—a situation he was desperately trying to resolve.
   The last bite of his pork chop churned in his stomach as fear gained a foothold.  He needed Hiram’s money from the marriage arrangement to Julia.  It was his only hope of turning things around.
   As his guests finished the meal, Reuben stood.  “Gentlemen, shall we retire to the front porch for some refreshments and cigars?”
   The men eagerly nodded, obviously wanting to be away from the women as quickly as he did.  As Hiram stood, Reuben pulled him aside.  Speaking loud enough for the others to hear, he said, “We’ll join you in a moment.  Hiram and I have a few business matters to discuss.”
   Leading Hiram back towards his office, Reuben hoped Hiram would still be amiable to the agreement they discussed several days ago at the saloon, despite Julia’s less than enthusiastic attitude this evening.
   Before he offered a seat, Hiram took one, starting the conversation on his terms.  “Julia is quite lovely, Reuben.  You’ve been holding out on me.  When you asked for such a large sum, I assumed she must be dreadful to look at.”
   “So you are pleased?”
   “To a point,” Hiram admitted.  “While she’ll keep me entertained well, she needs to learn to control her tongue, especially in front of guests.  I’m surprised you haven’t dealt with this already.”
   Reuben frowned.  If only Hiram knew what he was up against.  With any luck, he wouldn’t find out until after his wedding day.  “Well, father has only been gone a short time.  He doted on her, so it will take some time to get her to properly respect a man.”
   “Ah, there’s the catch.  I’ll have to train her myself then.”  Hiram laughed.  “It will be a fun challenge—breaking her.  Too bad you didn’t have more time to do the job yourself.  You could get a much higher price for her, as beautiful as she is.”
   The price he was asking was enough.  Normally prone to greediness, when it came to selling his sister’s hand in marriage, he felt it prudent not to get too greedy.  He was running out of time and needed to pay his debts soon.  Once that pressure slackened, he could focus his energy on rebuilding his wealth.
   A brief hint of remorse came over Reuben.  Had he stooped so low that he was selling his sister for money?  But, it was not as if he were selling her to a brothel.  No, he was just selling her to a wealthy rancher.  She would live in luxury.  What could be bad about that?
   He knew living with Hiram Norton would not be pleasant.  The man had a reputation for being ruthless to his business associates, to his women, and even to his mother.  He had no limits.  He made Reuben look like a saint.  Julia would undoubtedly be miserable married to him until she learned her place.
   Chiding himself, he refocused his attention back to what Hiram was saying.  He needed this man’s money, not a sudden case of conscience.
   “After we have our cigars,” Hiram was saying, “then, I will take Julia for a walk.  See if I still fancy her.  When I return, we will announce our engagement.  It will be short.  No longer than a month.”
   Reuben held back a gasp.  He hadn’t expected Norton to want a short engagement.  “You know what the townsfolk will say with such a hurried wedding.  They will think my sister has been compromised.”
   Pulling a large stack of bills from his coat pocket, Hiram slammed it down on the desk.  “I don’t think you will care too much what is said about your sister’s reputation.  Who knows, what they say may end up being true anyway.”
   The dark look on Hiram’s face sent shivers down Reuben’s spine.  Ruthless seemed rather inadequate of a word to describe the man before him.  He had to make sure Julia did not ruin this deal, for he did not want the added pressure of Norton’s anger.

Your browser may not support display of this image.

   Mary knocked on Julia’s door not more than ten minutes after she left the meal.  Her voice was timid when she spoke, “The men have retired to the front porch for cigars.  Reuben requested that you return to the parlor with the women.”
   Sighing, Julia did as instructed.  She listened to the gossip of the rancher’s wives and wished her friend Caroline Larson was in attendance, so she might actually be able to enjoy the evening.  The Larsons owned a ranch to the east of the Star C and they had been long-time family friends.  Up until last year, before father passed away, the Larsons were always invited for every social gathering—sometimes they were the only guests.  Since then, Reuben saw little use for Mr. Larson’s moral ways and only included them on rare occasions to pacify her or his wife.
   Not paying attention to the boring conversation, Julia missed seeing the men return from the outdoors.  Mr. Norton’s hand on her forearm jolted her from her thoughts.  “Miss Colter, I was hoping you might take a walk with me.”
   “And who will be acting as chaperone?” she replied curtly, not wanting to be alone in his presence.
   Mr. Norton laughed, a sound she was beginning to detest.  “Silly girl, I am much too old for a chaperone.  I assure you, your reputation will be safe with me.  I simply want to stroll for a few moments with a beautiful woman on my arm.”
   Julia thought a stroll might be too much for the man.  He was sweating profusely and seemed to have difficulty walking the distance to the door, as his breath came in short, heavy bursts.  She looked to Mary for support.  She smiled and nodded her approval, oblivious to Mr. Norton’s reprehensible behavior.  As Reuben stood next to Mary, his eyes narrowed with a silent warning.  Heeding the unspoken message, she stood and accepted Mr. Norton’s arm.
   Outside, the air barely cooled in the waning sunlight, causing Julia to grow warm in a matter of seconds.  She wished she thought to grab her fan when a sour odor wafted from the man at her side.  Averting her face, she tried to catch an untainted breath of air.  Unsuccessful, she decided parting her lips to breathe through her mouth might be preferable.
   Nearing the stables, Mr. Norton stopped abruptly, turning towards Julia.  The quick motion—seemingly impossible coming from the man who seemed to struggle walking much of a distance—frightened her.  Sucking in air quickly through her mouth, a slight tickle lingered in the back of her throat, almost bringing on a cough.
   When he spoke, his voice took on a sinister edge.  Even in the dimming light she could see the contempt in his eyes.  “Miss Colter, while I admire your feisty spirit,” he said as he grabbed her wrists, “It would serve you not to embarrass me again, especially by questioning my business practices in a room full of my peers.  I can make your life most unbearable if you cross me.”  Without warning he pulled her close and crushed his mouth down on hers as his hands took great liberty in exploring her body.
   The shock of his action took a moment to register.  Once it did, Julia brought her booted heel down hard on the top center of his foot, just as Will showed her.  He dropped his hold instantly, crying out in pain.  As he limped toward her, she ran for the front of the house to put some distance between them.  Tripping over something, she stumbled, giving Mr. Norton time to catch up.  He grabbed her bruised upper arms with surprising strength.
   “Do not ever do that again,” he said in a hostile tone.  “Do you not know that Reuben has promised you to me?  Make no mistake, Miss Colter, I am a powerful man.  If you want to live a decent, peaceful life under my roof, you best lose some of your haughtiness… Or, I will take whatever measures necessary to force it out of you.”
   Julia blinked, trying to absorb all that he said.  Was he saying that Reuben already agreed to her marrying this loathsome man?  An ominous chill swept over her as he continued his intense stare.  Her heart beat rapidly within her chest as her panic rose.  She could not—would not—marry this dreadful man.
   Dropping his hold on her, Mr. Norton extended his arm and placed her hand in the crook.  “Smile,” he commanded as he limped to open the front door.
   While her smile came insincerely, his seemed quite pleased.  He crossed the room slowly, still favoring his injured foot, before stopping in front of Reuben and Mary.  “Reuben, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Julia has eagerly agreed to accept my offer of marriage,” he said smugly.  “She was so delighted that she agreed to a short engagement.  We will be married in a month.”  His fingernails dug into her arm daring her to speak otherwise.
   The smirk on Reuben’s face told her this had been their plan all along.  Such a public announcement, even though it was completely false, would be difficult to break.  Lord, help me.  I cannot marry that man.

Anessia's Quest by Karen Arnpriester

My Thoughts: Although I haven't been able to read this book yet, it totally appeals to me. Having been a foster parent in a children's home, I have seen so many with similar stories as Pagne's story. So many people have no idea what foster kids have to go through. This looks like an excellent book about one of these kids, but it also looks to have a wonderful healing story about God and his destiny for Pagne.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

CreateSpace (January 18, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karen Arnpriester for sending me a review copy.***


Karen Slimick Arnpriester is a creative, passionate and adventuresome woman. She raised her two children, adores her seven grandchildren and is now a foster mom of two young ladies. She has been a self-taught graphic designer for twenty five years and started her own business twenty years ago. Her faith in God is strong and she believes that we are Christ's hands, feet, arms and wallet. This translates into her involvement in youth ministries, local women's shelter, street ministry, the elderly, as well as many other outreaches over the years. Her home has been available to single moms and their children, allowing them to get a fresh start.

Visit the author's website.


Anessia’s Quest follows the life of a woman born into dysfunction and neglect. The story takes you on her journey. A journey that begins with abandonment, abuse, and physical injury. Pagne (Pain) believes she is all alone, thrown away, but soon discovers that she is protected and guided by her guardian angel. A powerful relationship develops between this lost child and her loving protector that manifests as a unique method of communication.

 Pagne encounters other broken people that become her family, friends and community. Her grace and compassion alter their destructive paths. She moves through her life unaware of the impact she creates, her purpose on Earth.

 Her life is filled with tears, laughter, joy and heartbreak. She faces challenges that include ultimate betrayal, loss and shame. Challenges that are only bearable due to her trust and faith in heaven’s love and value for her. Love that is reinforced by her angel. She discovers the events that led to her mother’s indifference and neglect, and must decide how much grace she can extend to a woman she has hated for most of her life. The ultimate test of forgiveness.

 When she faces her death, Pagne discovers the true value and power of forgiveness and love. She is shown how her life created ripples that spread into waves of glorious influence. She was not an accident, she was placed on Earth with divine intent.

Product Details:

List Price: $11.95
Paperback: 302 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (January 18, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1456504363
ISBN-13: 978-1456504366


Psalms 91:11
“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;”

      Draken walked swiftly through the marble passageway, which was only lit by a warm, golden glow that’s source was undefinable. The excitement was building, as he weaved his way through the network of stone halls, intricate stained glass panels, and vines with incredible cobalt and purple blossoms. Each flower’s center had a spray of tendrils that shimmered and flickered with light. They pushed their way in through small openings and cracks, covering the ancient stone walls with their winding tendrils. He had the ability to instantly think himself to her, but instead he savored the journey through the tabernacle. As Draken entered the great hall, he sent groups of colorful butterflies
scattering. Some of the butterflies were tiny and flashed bright yellow and orange light, while others were massive and moved almost as in slow motion. Their deep-purple and metallic gold wings didn’t shine brightly like the others, but had a velvety luster that picked up the room’s light with each flutter. The spaces in between were filled with every size and color of these delicate creatures. This room never failed to take Draken’s breath away. There were sculptures in exquisite detail, cast or carved from every precious metal and stone, encrusted with jewels and pearls. Above him were strings of glowing orbs that didn’t appear to be connected in any way, glistening shades of pink, lavender, blue and green. Beautiful birds of every description dove and soared in the upper dome. Draken would spend hours in this room, simply appreciating its beauty.
      As he came upon an area of comfortable chairs, he saw Anessia sitting on the hard floor in her usual position, both legs folded under her with feet twisted out to the sides. She would sit this way for hours.
      “When will you ever discover the comfort of these lush chairs?” he teased her.
      She just grinned and said, “Probably never.” Draken just shook his head. She liked the coolness of the stone floor on her skin.
      Draken sat down in his favorite chair, a opulent purple satin with three times the stuffing most chairs would contain. He waited for her to speak, but silence. After a few anxious minutes, he could wait no longer.
      “Well, Anessia. You summoned me here. You said you were ready.” 
      She hesitated, she seemed unsure for a moment and then handed him the delicate gold scroll. Draken, a regal man with long white hair and a full beard,  took the scroll and fingered it gently, knowing the importance of its content. He took a deep breath and looked into Anessia’s eyes. He loved her eyes, so large, so engulfing.
      “I am ready,” is all she said. Draken felt the contradiction of relief and dread. This would be a difficult quest, filled with many hardships and pain.
      “You will have a lot of sadness to deal with, but you were selected with the
knowledge that you are capable. You have a strong sense of justice and love.” 
      “Oh, Draken, I want to make a difference, to be part of these miracles!”
      “Once you leave, you realize you will not be able to change your mind. The quest will not be recalled,” he reminded her.
      “I totally understand. I know that I can do this. I know I can make you and our Father proud. I believe I am the one to help fulfill the destiny described in the scroll.” 
      Draken truly adored Anessia and her tender heart, but she was fierce, one of the most committed wards he had responsibility for. He also knew that the quest was a journey filled with love, joy and an incredible outcome.
      “I will make the arrangements. Prepare yourself, your time here is short.” They both came to a stand, and with a hug and a kiss on her head, Draken disappeared to carry out the necessary details.
      Anessia stood alone and waited until she was sure Draken had left the chamber. She could contain herself no longer. She spun around, her hair flowing and gleaming in the light that was radiating down from above. It was wonderful to have a destiny. She giggled and hugged herself. Anessia then mentally willed her beautiful wings to engage, and she flew out of the windows near the top of the upper dome.
      She didn’t have to fly very far; there, by the glimmering pools, was Ennett. She slowly dropped down behind him, so quietly that he didn’t know she was there. Anessia crept slowly behind him and jumped back as Ennett whirled around. But not quick enough, his folded wings smacked her in the face. “Oh Ennett, I thought I got you this time,” she said, as she rubbed her cheek.
      “Do you forget that I can read your thoughts? You need to work on shutting down that brain of yours when you plan to attack,” he pouted at her, while touching her tender cheek. They both laughed and sat down on the cool grass next to the pools of crystal clear water. They slipped their feet in and giggled loudly, as the fish nibbled their toes. Anessia loved the landscape outside the main tabernacle. It had sumptuous gardens, streams, and trees that bore delicious fruits. Flowers of every size, color and scent. Some were deep shades that were fuzzy and glimmered, while others were tucked under the shade of the trees with transparent petals that glowed with pulsing light. The aromas were so delicious.
      She couldn’t count the different species of animals that roamed through the gardens. Every visit was a new discovery. These unique and exotic creatures would wander the gardens and come when beckoned, allowing her to pet and love on them.
      “Well, I am assuming that it is time?”    
      “Yes, it is,” she acknowledged.
      “Anessia, it is a different realm there,” he warned. “There is darkness,
despair and pain.” 
      “I know, I can do this. Draken and our Father do not send me to fail.”
      “I have faith in you, but please be careful!” 
      They both sat quietly for a short time. “I need to go prepare,”  whispered Anessia.
        “I love you Anessia, I will be here for you always.” They held each other for what felt like an eternity but it was only moments in another time. 

      Leah thought she could bear it no longer … why didn’t this baby come out?  She had been pushing and writhing here for hours, hurting so bad that she wanted to die. Finally, the nurse came in and said she was ready to have the baby. Leah knew that she would have feelings for this kid eventually,  but right now, she almost hated it. They wheeled her into delivery, and after thirty more minutes, the miracle of birth happened. A little, white skinned, red-haired girl with blue eyes. She looked at her and felt numb. She may have connected better if the baby had looked like her. If she had gotten her golden skin, dark, curly hair and chestnut brown eyes. This baby looked like a stray, not her kid.
      Leah had endured a difficult life and tried to bury it with alcohol, drugs and sex. During her drunken months of pregnancy, she thought it would be funny to name her baby girl Champagne, after her favorite beverage. Champagne Marie Crenshaw. Champagne would carry her mother’s last name since Leah didn’t know which John was the proud papa. Leah had considered having another abortion, but this time was different. This baby would change her life, she just knew it. Leah wanted to be loved and wanted someone to love. She convinced  herself that she could be a mom. When Leah was in her seventh month, she had stopped hooking and left Los Angeles. She moved north for
a fresh start. Champagne was to find out quickly that her mom would fail miserably at being a mother. She also would find out that there was someone watching over her, protecting her.
      When the hospital determined that Leah was ready to be released, she was indignant and annoyed. Three days was not nearly long enough if you asked Leah. She figured she deserved and could use at least another week of leisure and strong pain meds while the nurses cared for Champagne. Upon leaving the hospital, she brought the baby back to the disgusting motel room that Leah managed to rent with her assistance checks. Leah figured they would do okay since the amount written on those checks would increase with the birth of Champagne. She might have been able to afford a nicer place, but the majority of her money went for her alcohol and drugs. How was she going to take care of a baby all by herself?, she thought. Looking around the room, Leah realized that she should have prepared a little more for the baby. She pulled out a drawer, dumped it, and laid Champagne in it. The strong pain meds were wearing off, and they had only prescribed glorified aspirin as far as Leah was concerned. Luckily she had stopped on the way home to pick up a big bottle of cheap wine.
      “Well brat, guess the closest I’ll come to champagne for awhile is changing your crappy diapers.” She laughed to herself, “That was a good one Leah … you haven’t lost your dazzling wit yet.”
      Several years crawled by, and somehow, Champagne had survived her mother’s indifference. On one summer evening, Leah finally could not take it any longer, the pounding on the door was killing her head. What a hang-over she had. When she jerked the door open, she looked into the chest of a police officer. Behind him stood her neighbor, Miss Nose Up My Butt. She could tell this wasn’t good by the smirk on Miss Butt’s face.
      “We got a call that you have a toddler playing unattended on the landing,” said the officer.
      “Well, I don’t see no kid out here, do you?” shot back Leah.
      “Not at the moment, but your neighbor called quite concerned. She said that it is not unusual to see your front door wide open and your small daughter playing out here by the stairs. Do you understand how dangerous that is?” 
      “Well yes, Officer, I do. I’m not an idiot. I am always just inside the door, watching her every move. The kid has gotta have some fresh air and sunshine right?”
      “Ma’am, unless you use better judgment and find a safer place for your daughter to play, we will be back out with Child Services,” threatened the Officer.
      “Okay. I will figure out something.”
The officer filled out his paperwork and handed Leah her copy. “This call will be documented.” He held the paper for a delayed moment, while making eye contact with Leah.
      “Thank you Officer,” Leah said sarcastically as she snatched it from his hand.
      As the officer moved down the stairs, Leah looked over at Miss Butt as she was turning to head back to her door. Leah smiled a big smile at her and then flipped her off with both hands, followed by slamming the door as loud as possible.
      “Thanks Pagne, just what I needed.”  She glared at her sweet face and grumbled, “Worthless brat.” Leah had decided that when Champagne was a year old, she did not deserve the name Champagne. She hadn’t improved Leah’s life, but complicated it. Leah called her Pagne, which was pronounced as “Pain.” The fact that she was showing signs of freckles to go with the red hair from her nameless father didn’t help either. Leah hated freckles with a passion. Leah plopped down on the ratty couch that folded out to their bed, and turned on the TV as she filled a tumbler with wine.
      Leah’s lust for drinking would not allow her to survive on the meager assistance she received, so she began hooking again shortly after Pagne was born. Pagne’s childhood was a whirlwind of her mother’s customers, late nights, and the consequences of being the child of an alcoholic. One thing was consistent, an anchor that Pagne could rely on, her mother’s total disregard for her. Pagne was forced to be self-sufficient. She kept herself clean, got herself ready for school, and made sure the trash in the room didn’t pile up too high.
      When Pagne was eight years old, Adam Williams was her mother’s new flavor of the month … good looking, funny and he actually had a job. Nice change for Leah. Adam always brought a bottle of quality champagne for her and Jack Daniels for him. A few drinks, some laughs and then …. “Good lovin’,” as her mother would say. Leah considered him a boyfriend, so she didn’t charge him for her company. Pagne learned to keep out of the way when Adam or other men were there. The close quarters of the motel room made it difficult, but Pagne would lock the bathroom door and climb into the tub, pretending she was in a boat heading to a strange new land.
      Pagne would also read with a passion. She loved stories about fairies, far away places, or brave characters who saved the day. She read whatever she could bring home from school. Her mom certainly wouldn’t take the time to take her to the library or buy a book. When the tub was too disgusting to get into, Pagne would pile up any dirty laundry on the floor and make a nest. The width of the floor space fit her and the nest perfectly. She wished the walls were more sound proof though. The loud laughing and the noises they made when her mother had sex with the men made it hard for her to read, pretend or sleep. Pagne wasn’t sure what they were doing, but she felt uncomfortable hearing them. Sometimes, the men that Leah brought home would hit her. Pagne knew to stay very quiet. She didn’t want them to know she was there. Some mornings, Leah’s face would be swollen and bruised. When Pagne would look at her with concern, Leah would shrug and say, “Comes with the territory.”  
      Adam never hit her mom. He would always bring Pagne a toy or candy when he came over. He was nice enough but something made her uneasy about him. He didn’t do anything bad, but he always wanted Pagne to sit on his lap. She didn’t like it, and she wasn’t sure why. Even her mom didn’t like it. Leah would jerk Pagne up off of him and plop herself down on his lap, while giving Pagne the evil eye. Leah didn’t realize how grateful Pagne was for removing her from the awkward situation.
      Even at the age of eight, Pagne was independent. She could get her own breakfast and lunch, toaster pastries or cold cereal. It wasn’t so bad when the milk hadn’t soured, but usually she ate the cereal dry. She did get free hot lunches at school when she started first grade. Leah wasn’t hungry until late evening, since she drank her meals during the day. She would throw something together for dinner, but in her drunken stupor, usually burnt it. Pagne didn’t eat much. She didn’t talk much either, and doctors thought it was because of Leah’s frequent drinking during her pregnancy. But, according to Pagne, she just didn’t have anything much to say.
      One hot summer evening, Leah had drank herself into a stupor and passed out on the bathroom floor, leaving Pagne alone with Adam. He grinned at her and turned on cartoons. Their TV only had three channels. Luckily, one was cartoons ... most of the time. Pagne loved cartoons. She could watch them all day and just pretend she lived in the TV with them where she could fly like a super hero. Adam sat down in the old recliner and motioned for Pagne to come over to him. When she came close, he reached out and grabbed her by the waist and pulled her up on his lap.
      “Your mommy is outta service, so maybe Adam and Pagne will have some fun? You wanna play with me, sweetheart?”  Her instincts told her that this was not good. Adam’s breath stunk so bad from the liquor. She felt his arms tighten around her. Pagne began to whimper and tried to pull away. Adam was whispering and sputtering spit into her ear.
      “Be quiet. I’m not going to hurt you. Trust me, you’ll like it ... well, I will.”  She felt one hand slipping between her thighs and the other sliding up her belly, lifting up her t-shirt. Pagne brought her leg up and slammed down hard, kicking him in the shin with her heel. He grabbed onto her even tighter, squeezing her painfully. She kicked his shin again, and this time he let go. As he grabbed at his leg, Pagne was able to slip off his lap and headed to the front door. Adam came up out of the chair and lunged at her, screaming out with anger and pain. He was behind her and grabbed onto her arms. It hurt terribly. She was kicking and screaming. Pagne’s screams woke up Leah, and she came stumbling into the room, yelling for Adam to shut the brat up. She was confused when she saw Adam and Pagne struggling by the door.
      “What the hell is going on?”  She bellowed.
      Adam released Pagne and spun around to Leah. “Nuthin, kid just went nuts on me, she tried to run away.” It took a few minutes for Leah’s drunken brain to absorb the situation.  “So my little Pagne didn’t wanna play with you huh?”  Leah showed no reaction while she tried to remain standing. She managed to focus on Pagne’s face and gave her the most hateful glare Pagne had seen her manage. Pagne pulled open the front door and ran out, tears filling her eyes and clouding her vision. Through her tears, Pagne thought she saw white wings fluttering around her. Then black.
      When Pagne woke up, she hurt all over. Every part of her was bruised and sore. Her head was pounding with pain. She could hear voices but she didn’t want to open her eyes. She would hear a sweet lady’s voice speaking to her at times. She was curious about the woman, but decided it was better to pretend that she was somewhere else. Sleep, she just wanted to sleep. It didn’t hurt so bad when she slept. In her dreams she could fly with wonderful white wings, as others flew around her. Laughing, dipping, gliding ...
      Pagne woke up to her mother’s voice close to her ear. “You gotta wake up. What am I going to do with a brain-dead kid?  I can’t deal with this Pagne. Wake up now!” Pagne opened her eyes and looked at her mother. Her face was not haggard and worn from worry, but the familiar face of someone hung over. Leah’s breath reeked of wine. “Well it’s about time. What took you so long ... sweetheart?”  Sweetheart  was thrown in for the benefit of the nurse who just walked in. “Me and Adam have been worried sick. You scared your mama something awful.” As the nurse finished her duties and left the room, Leah moved in really close, so only Pagne could hear. “Pagne, they think Adam hurt you. We both know that’s a big fat lie, right?  The police are going to talk to you. Mommy can’t lose Adam, baby. You gotta fix this.”
      Later that day, several officers and a very nervous skinny woman named Miss Lament, came into Pagne’s room. The officers tried to be friendly and had a teddy bear with them. It was very cute, and Pagne found it oddly comforting to hug. Miss Lament, who didn’t smile and had very tiny, beady eyes was trying to ask Pagne what happened with Adam. Pagne decided she didn’t have anything to say. She knew that Adam was a bad man, but even at her tender age, Pagne intuitively understood that it was her mother’s truth. Leah needed him.
      The officers and Miss Lament left very frustrated. Her mother had been waiting in the hall and slipped in. “Good girl. Now we just have to convince the judge. We’re going to move in with Adam once this whole mess is cleared up. He’s going to take care of both of us. Won’t that be nice. We’ll be a family real soon!”  Pagne didn’t respond. “We hit the jackpot, baby,” cooed Leah.
      That evening, the sweet-talking nurse was on duty. She was taking Pagne’s temperature and adjusted her tubing. While she worked, she talked softly to Pagne, assuring her that she would be fine. As she turned to leave, Pagne grabbed her hand, squeezing it tight. The nurse, who’s nametag said “Mrs. Greenly,” looked into Pagne’s eyes. She saw fear and worry in them. She asked, “What’s wrong, hon? You in pain?”  Pagne took a deep breath and spoke in a whisper for the first time since waking up.
      “What happened?” she asked.
      “Oh honey, no one has told you what’s going on?  Well, I’m not sure why, but you ran out your front door, and then you fell down three flights of cement stairs. You broke your leg, your arm, cracked your head, and have lots of bumps and bruises. You are very lucky that you didn’t hurt yourself even worse. I believe you have a guardian angel, dear. Yep, an angel that cushioned your fall. We all have an angel, you know. Talk to mine sometimes, when I’m sad or scared. You should thank your angel for protecting you. They have a thankless job!” 
      Pagne managed to ask when she would be going home. “You should be able to go home in a few days,” the nurse answered. With that news, Pagne began to weep softly. “Oh sweetheart, that’s not that far away.”  She looked into Pagne’s face and realized this was something different. “Don’t you want to go home?”  Pagne just closed her eyes and let go of the sweet nurses hand.
      After she left, Pagne whispered quietly, “Thank you.” She did see wings, she was sure of it.
      Pagne laid in her bed, a cast on right arm, a cast on her left leg, bandages here and there, and a dull headache. Her mom was filling out all the paperwork for her release. Leah looked at the prescriptions for Pagne and was grumbling that nothing was strong enough to do her much good. “The least they could do is give us Valium.” Several nurses entered the room and helped Pagne into a wheelchair, Pagne’s doctor and a police officer walked into the room. “Now Miss Crenshaw, there are some requirements you must meet to have your daughter home with you,” said the officer. “This Adam Williams is not to be within 300 yards of your daughter or your residence.” 
      “But he didn’t do anything,” Leah insisted.
      “That might be, but until the judge makes his determination, the restraining order is in effect,” the officer responded.
      “Yes, of course,” Leah said with attitude.
      Pagne’s doctor stepped toward Leah and began speaking. “Here is the treatment plan for Champagne’s after care. Her therapy is crucial if she is to have a full recovery. I also want to stress that she will need a balanced, healthy diet and a safe, clean environment. Obviously the stairs will present a safety issue, have you made arrangements for assistance?” 
      “Yes, I have taken care of everything necessary,” lied Leah.
      “Mrs. Crenshaw, a child services worker will be checking in,” reminded the officer.
      “Yes,  I know, another person up my butt. Can we leave now?”
      “Yes, you may. But remember, your court appearance is at three o’clock  today. We will remove Champagne from your care if you fail to appear.”
      “Yes, I know, I know,” replied Leah with total disrespect to the officer.
      The nurses put Pagne into a cab for the ride home while Leah had a cigarette. Once her nicotine fix was complete, she climbed into the cab next to Pagne. She shot the nurses a hard glare when their faces revealed their disapproval of her indifference. Pagne quietly sat while her mom went on and on about their new life with Adam. Leah talked about how Adam really cared about them, how happy they would all be together, and how Adam would bring money into the house. She could quit hooking, she thought to herself. Leah finally shut up and drifted into her fantasy of a wonderful future with Adam.
      Pagne considered telling her mother what Adam had done, but she was a smart girl. She knew there was no point, her mother already knew. When they got to the hotel, Leah struggled to get Pagne upstairs, cursing with each step. Once inside the room, Pagne looked around and wasn’t surprised to see that everything  the doctor had listed was not done. Pagne hopped over to the couch and sat in silence.
      “Wanna toaster pastry doll? Know how much you love them.” Pagne shook her head and turned on the TV.
      A few minutes later, there was a tap on the door. Leah opened it and Adam’s head popped in.
      “Hey, my two favorite girls. Just wanted to stop by and bring Pagne a get well gift.” It was a tin of mints from the liquor store down the street and a car air freshener in the shape of a rose.
      “What did you bring mama?” asked Leah with a little girl voice and giggle. Adam slipped a big bottle of champagne around the door.
      “Can I come in for awhile?” he asked.
      “No baby, not till the court says it’s okay. My neighbor next door has big ears and eyes. This should all be resolved this afternoon, you gotta be patient.” Leah laughed as Adam tried to grope her through the opening. “We’ll all be together soon,” assured Leah. Adam looked over at Pagne and winked with a disgusting lick of his lips.
      “Okay, but I miss you guys. Good to have you back with us, Pagne.” Pagne turned the TV volume up and turned away to look at the screen.
      “She’ll warm up to ya, baby, just give her some time. I’ll call when I get out of court.” Leah closed the door giggling. She looked over at Pagne, wanting to share the joy. Pagne could feel her eyes on her, but she didn’t respond.
      Pagne was very nervous sitting in the courtroom, waiting to find out what was expected of her. Everyone was so serious, except her mother. She was whispering insulting comments about everyone. Sticks up their you know what’s … and other such childish remarks. When it was their turn to appear before the judge, Leah bounced up, flicking her hair. Once she was at the front, she realized that Pagne was still struggling to get out of her seat. She smiled and loudly proclaimed … “It’s okay baby, Mommy is here.” She went back, and very graciously, helped Pagne into the aisle. Pagne was impressed by her performance. Once she made it to the front, Pagne sat at the table facing the judge.
      Leah began by explaining that this whole thing was a misunderstanding. She said that Pagne had been throwing a temper-tantrum, and Adam was trying to keep her from running out of the room. When the judge asked if she had been in the room at the time, she admitted that she had not because she was suffering from one of her migraines and was laying on the bathroom floor for relief. “The cool tile is soothing,” she explained.
      Pagne’s doctor was called forward, and he described the extensive bruising on Pagne’s thighs, chest and arms. Obviously, a large man’s handprints could clearly be seen in the photos they were showing. Leah did not have any explanation for the bruises. The judge looked at Pagne and asked if she had anything she wanted to say. Pagne just looked out the windows at the beautiful blue sky, wishing she could fly away.
      The lawyer, representing Pagne’s interests, made a good case that the events before her fall were clearly assault and possibly molestation. The judge agreed, and the restraining order was to stand pending further investigation. Adam had been picked up and interviewed after Pagne was admitted into the hospital. He wasn’t arrested, but did have a court date. 
      Leah went into a rage. “This is ridiculous, you are punishing a good man, my man, for something that was very innocent. This isn’t fair,”  she yelled.
      “Well, Miss Crenshaw, if you want to have your daughter in your home, you must honor the restraining order. If you disregard the order, Champagne will be placed in the care of the state until this case is resolved,” responded the judge with obvious distain.
      “Well, I don’t think me and Adam should suffer because of this brat. We have a life to start. You guys can deal with her,” Leah said as she looked at Pagne in disgust. Leah then turned and walked out of the courtroom.
      Everyone stood there in shock, not knowing what to say or do. Pagne
hobbled over to the window and allowed one tear to roll down her face, just one. Then she looked to the skies and flew far away.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Everyday Spiritual Warfare by Amy Barkman

My Thoughts: I'm always looking for great books on spiritual warfare. I believe we are in a constant battle. And as a soldier in God's army, I need instruction. What a wonderful guide, this book is. Amy is Virginia Smith's (author of the Sister-to-Sister novels and several more) mother. This is what she has to say:
"Several years before the Lord enabled me to quit my day job and write full time, I had an extremely demanding job that required me to move a thousand miles away from my family and home church. The only solid spiritual input I had was from my mother, Amy Barkman, who I've always called a Walking Concordance. When I felt depressed, I would call her and say, "I need to know the scriptures for fighting depression." When I was fearful, I'd ask, "Can you tell me about the `fear not' scriptures again?" When I had a conflict with an employee at work, I picked up the phone and asked Mom to point me toward Biblical help. Finally I told her, "I wish you'd write all this stuff down, so when I need a quick reference for a specific topic I could just pick up a book!" She started doing that, and Everyday Spiritual Warfare was the result. I think the book gives us practical spiritual help for the kind of problems we encounter all the time."

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Next Step Books (September 8, 2011)
***Special thanks to Christy Delliskave of Next Step Books for sending me a review copy.***


Amy Barkman is the Director of Voice of Joy Ministries, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and the pastor of Mortonsville United Methodist church. She and her husband Gary live in Danville, KY and together have seven children, thirteen grandchildren, and one great grandson. Amy loves to read and to travel.

Visit the author's website.


Everyday Spiritual Warfare gives practical knowledge for victorious living in a fallen world. Rev. Barkman has shared this wisdom in workshops, retreats, and sermons in several states over the past few decades. Both new and mature Christians have found the material very helpful in their walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.

“This is a helpful manual that reminds the Body of Christ of the tremendous responsibility and awesome power we have through the Holy Spirit. Enjoy this book from Amy Barkman and be empowered to step out and up in Faith.” - Dr. Stephen and Kellie Swisher, Kenneth Copeland Ministries

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 246 pages
Publisher: Next Step Books (September 8, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937671003
ISBN-13: 978-1937671006


Spiritual Warfare Principles I

Praise the Lord for His mercy endureth forever.

II Chronicles 20:21

I came up out of the baptismal waters with eager anticipation. Rising to newness of life - what a relief. But as soon as I got to the changing room it was obvious that my extra twenty pounds rose with me. And the straight auburn hair I’d longed for all my life had not replaced my curly brown tresses. Within an hour there was no question about the desire to smoke a cigarette passing away; it didn’t. By the end of the month the blood test proved that my triglyceride level was still as high as ever. “Hey God, what happened? I thought you said all things would be made new.”

There’s a story in the Bible that reminds me of the way I felt after my baptism.

The Nation of Judah settled in the land that God promised them. And most of their enemies were destroyed in battle. But one day three armies showed up to surround them.

King Jehoshaphat called a fast and they all went to God in prayer. They said, in essence, “Hey, God, what happened? Here are three armies come to destroy us. They are from the three tribes you wouldn’t let us destroy when we came into this land. We don’t have any power against them so we’re looking to you. You do something!”

One day, many years after my disappointing baptismal experience, I was reading this story and the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Look up the meaning of the names of those three armies.” So I did. The three armies are Moab, Ammon, and Mt. Seir.

Moab means “of the father,” Ammon means “tribal,” and Mt. Seir means “goat or devil.” Light dawned into my mind concerning the plight of the reborn, new creature in Christ that is the true Church.

We who accept Jesus Christ as our savior are born again. We begin a brand new life – the promised land. And just by that act of receiving Jesus as Savior, we defeat more enemies than we can imagine. But there are three enemies that are left in our promised land. Three armies that come against us to destroy.

Moab, “of the father," is symbolic of the genetic conditions we inherit in our bodies and personalities. When we are born again we do not get a new body but are stuck with the DNA given to us.

Ammon, “tribal,” is symbolic of the cultural situation into which we are born.

When we are born again, we are not transported into a perfect society but are bombarded all our lives with the evils in the world around us.

Mt. Seir, “goat or devil,” is symbolic of the forces of the devil who comes to kill, steal, and destroy. When we are born again, we are not automatically placed out of reach of the enemy.

We are born again children of God with the new life He promised but these three armies want to destroy us. And here they are – right in the promised land – genetic inheritance, cultural surroundings, and the devil with his destructive forces.

You may ask, “Why doesn’t God get rid of these enemies for us?” The answer is simple. He will. God did not leave these three enemy armies here so they could destroy us. He says to us, just as He said to His chosen people centuries ago, “… Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (II Chronicles 20:15).

His plan is to overcome them.

Paul wrote “… we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).

What does it mean to be more than a conqueror? The Greek word means preeminently victorious, or a winner before you even enter the battle. Wow! That’s good news indeed. And that is what God wants us to understand and practice.

But the way of winning battles through God is not the way of the world. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (II Cor. 10:4). There are some basic principles of spiritual warfare and we have to learn them if we are going to be winners in life. The first, and most important, principle is:


This doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do. God’s Instruction Book, the Bible, is full of exhortations such as, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7) and “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). You are to resist the devil and stand against his schemes.

But did you notice? When your battle against the devil is mentioned, your relationship with God is also mentioned. You can’t win against evil in your own strength. But God won’t win in this physical realm without your cooperation.

When the nation of Judah sought the Lord for help against the armies that came to destroy them, they were told to present themselves but not to fight. Their response was to put a group of singers in the forefront of the army. Order of presentation was a way of protection in ancient times. The strong men, who were trained and able to fight, were at the forefront when meeting an opposing force, with the women, children, elderly and weak at the rear in the place of protection.

This time, however, the strong fighting men were among those being protected and the singers and praisers, which may have included women and children, went out first. We are told that when they began to sing and to praise God for His mercy, the Lord Himself caused the three armies to be defeated.

This story illustrates several principles of spiritual warfare. The first is evident and stated above … only God can successfully defeat evil.

“Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies” (Psalm 108:13).

The second basic principle of spiritual warfare is:


This principle is illustrated in the story we just examined. When the tribe of Judah praised God for His mercy to them, He showed no mercy to their enemies but caused them to be destroyed. “And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten” (II Chronicles 20:22).

King David, from an earlier time in the history of God’s people, mentioned this principle in several of his songs. He sang, “I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence” (Psalm 9: 2, 3). When David sang praises to the name of God, He showed up in person.

What does it mean to sing praises to the Name of God? In today’s society, we have largely lost the understanding of names. When ancient men talked about the name of something or someone, they were talking about its or their essential nature or character.

God revealed Himself to Israel throughout the centuries by His Names through His actions. He revealed Himself, His essential nature, His character, as

Jehovah Jireh – the Lord your Provider

Jehovah Rapha – the Lord your Healer

Jehovah Tsidkenu- the Lord your


Jehovah Rohi – the Lord your Shepherd

Jehovah Shalom – the Lord your Peace

He revealed other aspects of Himself through names and eventually revealed Himself as Jesus – the Lord your Salvation.

When we praise His name, we are to be praising that aspect of Himself that we need to see active in our situation. Jesus quoted Psalm 8: 2, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings has thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” He quoted it on the occasion that we know as Palm Sunday when the chief priests and scribes were upset because the children were crying out, “Hosanna to the son of David” (Matthew 21: 15,16).

Hosanna is a word which means “Save.” By shouting out that word to Him, the children were recognizing Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior - and the religious people didn’t like it. Jesus then quoted Psalm 8, but instead of saying, “out of the mouths of children you have ordained strength”, He said, “out of the mouths of children you have ordained praise.” Jesus equated strength and praise, validating this principle that your battles are won by God as you praise Him for His mercy toward you in that area.

Some people say “Praise the Lord!” a lot. And there is certainly nothing wrong with saying that, but think about it. If you are going to praise a family member or friend, you don’t just say “Praise Richard!” or “Praise Tracy!” You say “Richard has a wonderful sense of humor.” Or “Tracy is very generous and kind.” So it should be with God. To truly praise Him is to announce gratitude for His specific acts and attributes. And most often it will be as the army of Judah proclaimed, “Praise the Lord for His mercy endures forever.”

One problem in our society that keeps us from understanding this principle is our picture of God as separate from us, doling out punishment or reward from outside our world. Many see God as an old man sitting on a throne pointing a finger downward toward earth and shooting lightning bolts to affect the physical realm. We can’t praise Him if we don’t really understand what He is like.

The apostle John opens his gospel by giving us the true nature of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). God is Spirit, Jesus tells us in John 4:24. He is Person who defines Himself by concepts and ideas. The very meaning of the word Word is “thought expressed.” WORD becomes flesh and has ever since God defined and spoke the physical universe into existence with the concept “Light!” Light energy is the basic component for all physical existence. God and His Word are the source of all Life. When we understand that, we can praise Him for being the ongoing Creator.

This concept of God as Spirit and Word is too big for our finite minds to understand completely all at once. But when we plant the seed of understanding and let it grow, we will one day know why Jesus told us that the parable of the sower sowing the Word was necessary for understanding all He teaches (Mark 4:13, 24). God is Spirit and He defines Himself in words. Those spoken words change our circumstances. To praise Him for specific actions and attributes is to bring those actions and attributes into the physical realm. “It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

We need to recognize that the devil and his followers are also spirit – evil spirits. They convey evil concepts - ideas and concepts that are contrary to the thoughts that God expresses to you through His Word. Just as we know God is not an old man sitting on a throne, the devil is not a man in a red suit holding a pitchfork, and evil spirits are not gargoyles. The Spirit realm, both good and evil, wants to affect the physical realm.

The more we understand God’s nature, the more we will praise Him, and the more we praise Him, the more we will see Him active in our lives.

The story of Jehoshaphat and the battle against the three armies illustrates a third principle.


We’ve already looked at those three fronts in the account described in II Chronicles 20. Remember that in the Bible, names are very important because a name designates the nature of something. We often miss a lot of information that God wants to convey to us in His Word by not discovering what a person or group or place symbolizes.

The first thing I noticed the day the Lord was teaching me from this passage was that the third army is not mentioned at the beginning. “It came to pass after this also that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle” (II Chronicles 20:1).

Moab, representing our genetic inheritance, and Ammon, representing our cultural situation are identified right away. The third army is only mentioned as “and with them, other besides.” The group that came along with the first two armies isn’t named until verse 10.

“And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom thou would not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt …” Mount Seir comes along with those things that attack us through our birth and cultural situations in life. As we saw earlier, the name Mount Seir means “goat or devil” and represents evil spirits, devils, demons, messengers of the enemy.

Spiritual enemies, evil spirits or devils, cannot just attack you physically – they have no bodies; they come in with the inherited and cultural enemies of your perfect happiness and your perfect good. When something has been established in you through your family heritage or cultural situation, then spiritual evil comes along with it to create and insure a stronghold.

My father’s family has a history of blood lipid disorder so out of balance that it was reported in medical journals. My brother and sister and I were the subjects of experimental research to develop drugs to reduce blood lipids. I inherited this disorder as extremely high triglycerides. With medication and moderate obedience to dietary good sense, my triglycerides stay at a healthy level, for me. Without medication and eating right, I get very sick.

The proclivity to high triglycerides is a genetic thing (Moab); the wrong diet is a cultural thing (Ammon); and the enemy (Mount Seir) comes along with those things to kill, steal, and destroy my life and the ministry that the Lord Jesus wants to accomplish through me. But when I praise Him for His mercy and thank Him that He is my life and my health, I receive His health and restoration, even when I have been unwise.

When the people of Judah went to God with their plea for help, they reminded Him that He would not let them invade and destroy these three armies at the time they entered the promised land. He left these possible enemies in the land.

In the same way, when you became a Christian you did not get a new body with a new genetic makeup. You were not translated into a perfect society with perfect cultural habits.

You were left with your genetic and cultural situation in a place where evil spirits operate through these things to kill, steal, and destroy all that God has promised you. In other words, you are in a war against the flesh, the world, and the devil. And you can’t win.

But God can.


Principles of Spiritual Warfare

Only God can successfully defeat evil.

Praising God brings Him on the scene.

Evil attacks on three fronts.

Scripture Truths
“Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” II Chronicles 20:15
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John 1:1

“And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord sat ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.” II Chronicles 20:22

“Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings has thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2

“I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.” Psalm 9:2,3

Everyday Spiritual Warfare

© 2011 by Amy Barkman

Published by Next Step Books, P.O. Box 70271, West Valley City, Utah 84170
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without written permission of the author, except for brief quotations in printed reviews.

All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.

Barkman, Amy

Everyday Spiritual Warfare

ISBN-13: 978-1937671006

ISBN-10: 1937671003