Tag Archive | abandonment

The Serpent Beguiled Eve by Acacia Slaton

HEALING THE WOUNDS OF ABANDONMENT, BETRAYAL AND SHAME

Serpent-Beguiled-Eve

While this is a story of infidelity and betrayal, it goes much deeper…

A young married woman with two daughters deals with her husband’s infidelity and his struggle with the demons of his past.  She seeks spiritual counsel, but when her husband refuses to cooperate with spiritual leaders—other than on a surface level—she has to make the most important decision of her life. 

Find out what this courageous young woman does to turn her life around for her children and her walk with God.

Acacia

Author Bio:  Acacia Slaton is a graduate of Oral Roberts University and has earned her Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2012. She works in the Social Service field and finds a sense of  joy from helping others.

She has two daughters;  Jana and Jaci.  Acacia loves to interact with  readers and welcomes questions and feedback. Visit Acacia On Facebook

Benefits Of This Inspirational Book

Trust In God

You’ll learn from the author how to look to God in the midst of all trials.

Forgiveness

You’ll learn about true Biblical forgiveness that brings new life and healing.

Renewal

Follow the author from feelings of worthlessness to God’s will for her life!

Acacia empowers her readers to overcome trials, to forgive and to begin again in victory!

  • The book is filled with inspiration and God’s truth to overcome the difficulties of life.
  • The story teaches how to overcome feelings of  condemnation and worthlessness.
  • Acacia shares the importance of putting a relationship with God  first over all things

Source: http://lifepurposebooks.com/blog/infidelity-and-betrayal/

My Review:

Acacia has written a very transparent story of her life.  The desire to be married before she got too old and the warnings against this marriage.  It’s a matter of listening to God or your own desires.  The consequences of her choice echoes down the hall of her life.  Her story is a lesson we all need to heed in all the decisions of life.

Her compassion and forgiveness toward her husband is clearly displayed, but he must ultimately make a choice as well.  His choices bring about the dilemmas she must face.

Despite all Acacia goes through, God’s word for her life helps her overcome her multiple difficulties, but not without consequences.  Before you marry, please read this book and learn to follow God’s voice and warnings He gives through others in your life.  Do not let the serpent beguile you.

This book was provided by the author in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was received.

“You Cannot Find Peace Until You Find All the Pieces” by Marie Maiden

Finding the Missing Piece

This book titled “You Cannot Find Peace Until You Find All The Pieces” chronicles a search for my father, a man I desired to meet face-to-face. The searched lasted eighteen years. It led me to discover my ancestry, which provided the documentation that I needed to finally locate my father. I was able to find the plantation where my dead ancestors lived as slaves before I found my living father.

This work also chronicles the role of God in my life and how my belief in Jesus Christ has transformed me and given me the strength to overcome a less than desirable childhood. Prior to this personal transformation, I held on to many regrets from my childhood. The most consequential of these was a teenage pregnancy and my life as a teen mother.

About Marie Maiden

Marie Maiden is a first time new author.   She is the youngest of five children. She was born in Washington, DC in May in the 196o’s.

Her parents having separated, Marie was raised by her mother and grandmother.  Decisions made for her in her teenage years caused her problems she never imagined or intended.

She attended the DC Public schools, earned an Associated Degree in Business Administration, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting.  She’s worked eighteen years in the field of Accounting, worked over twenty-five years for the Federal Government.

Marie currently resides in Upper Marlboro Maryland.

Source for review.

My Review:

I enjoyed Marie’s book on several levels.  First was the historical level of her ancestry.  I find that to be important in everyone’s life.  The history of slavery is an abhorrent part of her history and our US history.

Second is the importance of a father to a child’s life.  When a father leaves and has no further input to a child’s life, it brings up many emotional issues for a child.   I thought it was great that the author saw that importance and pursued finding her father, though the outcome was different from she anticipated.

The third being the most important issue–a changed life in the hands of Father God through Jesus Christ.  The author’s memoir chronicles her life before and after Christ.  The differences are astonishing.

Fourthly, I enjoyed the fact that Marie is dedicated to the transformation of her mind–a daily practice till the day we die.  In addition, she recognizes obedience as a necessary part to growing spiritually.

And finally, how important choices are and how they affect our lives.  Some of Marie’s early choices caused problems she was not ready to deal with, but was helped tremendously by her grandmother and mother.  I would like to have learned how her child dealt with her decision as he became an adult.

For an uplifting story of a lost little girl to a woman of faith, this is a book to encourage you if you struggle with the emptiness of a missing father and the need for a heavenly Father.

This book was provided by Marie Maiden in exchange for my honest review.  No monetary compensation was exchanged.

“Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure” by Suzanne Anderson

The Tenuous Relationship Between Hungary and Germany–WWII

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…



Hungary’s fragile alliance with Germany kept Natalie, a renowned children’s book author, and her family out of harm’s way for most of the war. Now as the Führer’s desperation grows during the waning years of the conflict, so does its threat. Natalie’s younger sister, Ilona, married a Jewish man, putting both her and her young daughter, Mila, in peril; Natalie’s twin sister, Anna, is losing her already tenuous hold on reality. As the streets of Budapest thrum with the pounding boots of Nazi soldiers, danger creeps to the doorstep where Natalie shields them all.

Ilona and her husband take the last two tickets to safety for themselves, abandoning Natalie to protect Anna and Mila from the encroaching danger. Anna’s paranoid explosion at a university where was once a professor, sparked by delusions over an imagined love triangle, threatens their only other chance for escape. Ultimately, Natalie is presented with a choice no one should ever have to make; which of her family will she save?

An inspirational story of faith and family, strength and weakness, and the ultimate triumph of love over hate. Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure demonstrates the power of faith to light even the most harrowing darkness.

Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure, in its original form, was quite a bit different from the book I published in some important ways:

First it was written in the First Person Point of View, which gave it a much more intimate feel, which as it turns out, was the right POV for a story about a family experiencing the most terrifying moments of war.

Second, it was actually set in Budapest, Hungary during World War Two, not in the fictional other-world it was thinly disguised as.

And finally, it had a spiritual element that explored a particular element of religious faith that has always perplexed me….the challenge of believing in something we cannot see.

… faith is the evidence of things not seen.

Bio:  I’ve done everything. Worked on Wall Street, taught overseas, travel extensively, and read voraciously. But the one thing I’ve always wanted to do was write. And that’s what I do here. Oh, and I’ve also recently published my first book, Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure.

I was born in Fort Lauderdale, attended the University of Michigan on an athletic scholarship for swimming and then worked on Wall Street. I left the bright lights of the big city fifteen years ago and traveled the world. I now live in the mountains of Colorado, where I pursue my dream of writing novels.

My Review:

With the Nazis arriving in Budapest, Ilona and her husband Mila, a Jew, take the last two tickets for the train out of Budapest for themselves, leaving their daughter Mila, and Ilona’s sisters, Natalie and Anna who are identical twins, to fend for themselves.  Natalie is a renowned children’s book author and Anna a former professor at the college and poet, who is slowly losing her mind with paranoid delusions that put them in danger.

Suzanne’s novel, Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure, is written in the first person point of view, which gives us Natalie’s personal perspective of the stress, planning, and dangers the two women and Mila are enduring.  It draws you straight into the emotional drama of how she can know who to trust, what she should do to protect Mila, her worries of being watched and followed, and how she should handle Anna in her delusional states.  My feelings were so pumped throughout, knowing the dangers and fears.

The grief from the loss of Max, Natalie’s husband, was sensitively handled and very well portrayed.  Betrayal by a young man, her intruding questions about Deszo, and the jealousies between Natalie and Anna kept the story moving through the whole book like a marching army of sorts.  The additional story of Mrs. Tuesday was an interesting interlude to set aside the atrocities taking place, a time of escape for a short period of time.

The love Natalie has for Mila fills a part of her loneliness, but also becomes an issue of choice for her.  If she had to choose between saving Mila or Anna, who would she choose?  The strength of faith, family, and love bring a resolution through this horrifying time of history.

This is a great book built around a terrified family trying to survive Hitler’s men, and I thought it was well laid out and emotionally touching.  However, the use of expletives took me by surprise and I feel they were unnecessary in a Christian book.

This book was provided by the author, Suzanne Anderson, in exchanged for my honest review.  No monetary compensation was exchanged for my opinion.

“Tombstones and Banana Trees” by Medad Birungi with Craig Borlase

A Revolution of Forgiveness

Medad Birungi faced pain few imagine yet speaks of forgiveness all can experienceMy story changed beyond all recognition.  Everything that was made ugly by pain and anger was turned to beauty by one simple, revolutionary thing—forgiveness.”  Medad Birungi was once a boy who begged to die by the side of the road, a teenager angry enough to kill, a man broken and searching, yet today he is a testimony to God’s transforming power.  In his life story, Tombstones and Banana Trees: A True Story of Revolutionary Forgiveness, Birungi charts his outrageous journey through suffering, abuse, despair and revenge to unexpected forgiveness and healing.

 Watch the video trailer!

Through his story of healing, Birungi calls readers to find healing for their own emotional scars.  He reminds them that when they forgive others they are doing something truly radical—changing relationships, communities and countries.  They are welcoming God into the hidden corners of the human soul, where real revolution begins, inspiring others to start again and work for reconciliation.  Birungi is “fascinated by forgiveness, drawn to it, compelled by it and delighted when anyone wants to join me.  That is what revolutionary forgiveness becomes after a while—a passion.  It draws us in, yet it does not overrule us.  We must still make the choice to overcome our reservations.”

Tombstones and Banana Trees will take readers back to their own tombs and funerals and help them ask how God might turn them into new births and celebrations.  Their eyes will be opened to the revolutionary change that God Himself has in store for all.

Medad Birungi grew up in the war-torn country of Uganda in the 1960’s. He grew up with a violent father. And, after years of abuse, his father abandoned him, along with his mother and siblings, on the side of the road when he was only six years old. His life became increasingly difficult—his poverty increased, his hope evaporated and his future was nothing but decay. For the first twenty years of his life, he lived on a staple diet of anger and bitterness.

But God had his hand on Birungi’s life, and it would change beyond all recognition. Everything that was made ugly by pain and anger was turned to beauty by one incredibly simple yet revolutionary act: forgiveness. Though he started as a boy who begged to die by the side of the road, becoming a teenager angry enough to kill then a man broken and searching, he is now a testimony to God’s transforming power.

From that trauma came the lessons that we can all appreciate:  the impoverishment of life without Christ, the redemption of the cross and the revolutionary power of forgiveness.  His story deals in nothing less than pure, God-given transformation.  Tombstones and Banana Trees has the dual quality of being both uniquely individual yet universally relevant, holding together the grandest of themes and the most intimate of testimonies.  Birungi’s life is so comprehensively renewed that any reader sharing in his journey will feel the impact.

Currently Birungi is the coordinator for missions, evangelism and church planting in the Anglican Diocese of Kampala. He also lectures at the Kyambogo University. But one of his greatest passions is the charitable organization that he founded, World Shine Ministries. He is a father of nine children (five biological and four adopted). He and his wife Connie live with their children in Uganda.

Visit the author’s website.

 Tombstones and Banana Trees: A True Story of Revolutionary Forgiveness

                           by Medad Birungi with Craig Borlase

David C Cook/ISBN: 978-0-7814-0502-7/208 pages/paperback/$14.99

www.davidccook.com and www.worldshinefoundation.org

My Review:

If any one had a reason to be bitter and vengeful, Medad Birungi of Uganda would be that man.  And he was that and more for over 20 years of his life.

As a young boy he was beaten and ridiculed by his father and eventually abandoned at a very young age, his father leaving with his other wives and children.  His family and neighbors treated him, his mother, and siblings as less than dirt–more like ‘maggot valley.’  The poverty became worse, and his hope and future appeared empty.

He had received some teaching from the Bible about Jesus, His miracles, and His love from one Christian wife of his father’s and some of the Christian ladies at the local church.  He was taught to repent, forgive and pray every day.  So he knew Jesus saw their plight.

When Medad finally got to high school, he began to live a double life that he kept hidden from his mother and school administrators. He describes this journey of his life in great detail, and it will touch you deeply inside as a friend, mother, father, or sibling.

But God had way different plans for Medad than he could have ever imagined.  Medad describes how he went to each person who was on his ‘hit list,’ forgiving each one after he became a Christian in 1980, despite how bitter he had been.   Only by the grace of God was he able to accomplish this feat.  And wait until you read about the results!

Revolutionary forgiveness like this can change relationships, communities and countries.  He calls you to find your healing from your own emotional scars by coming to Christ,  repenting, forgiving and praying.

Pick up Medad’s book and find that freedom for your own life!  Then share it with others!

This book was provided by Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, at The B&B Media Group, in exchange for my honest review.  No monetary compensation was exchanged.

Susan Sleeman’s “Behind the Badge” Book and a $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway! (includes book review)

Enter to win a copy of Susan Sleeman’s Behind the Badge and a $50 Amazon gift card!

Susan Sleeman here. Behind the Badge, my second romantic suspense book for Love Inspired Suspense will release on June 6th and in honor of all of you, the readers, I am hosting a special contest on my website for the month of June.

Let’s face it. Without you, the wonderful readers, books would not exist and I wouldn’t be able to wake up looking forward to a job that is fresh and exciting each and every day. Praise God for this incredible opportunity!

Now back to the contest. All you have to do is read the excerpt below then go to my WEBSITE and answer the following question. That’s it. You’re entered to win.

If you’d like to sign up for my mailing list to learn of other contests in the future you can do that at the same time, too. Full contest rules are on the entry page. Remember only one entry per person.

QUESTION: What did Russ ask a unit to stake out?

SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of romantic suspense and mystery novels. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into writing romantic suspense and mystery novels and hosting the popular internet website TheSuspenseZone.com.

Her books include Nipped in the Bud, High-Stakes Inheritance, Behind the Badge, and The Christmas Witness. Also watch for the first two romantic suspense books in her Justice Agency series coming from Love Inspired suspense in 2012 and featuring a private investigations firm specializing in helping those who traditional law enforcement has failed.

Susan currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson.

To learn more about Susan visit her website, Facebook , or Twitter.

Behind the Badge

The Morgan Brothers – Bk 2

Love Inspired Suspense

June 6, 2011

ISBN-10: 0373444478

ISBN-13: 978-0373444472

“YOUR SISTER IS NEXT!”

A killer is threatening the life of rookie cop Sydney Tucker’s sister-unless Sydney turns over evidence from a drug bust. But she doesn’t have the evidence. Not that the thug believes her. Now she and the sibling in her care are under the watchful eye of Logan Lake police chief Russ Morgan…but will his protection be enough?

The killer is closing in, picking off the people and places that mean the most to Sydney. A list that now includes Russ. To protect her loved ones, will she pay the ultimate price-her life?


READ AN EXCERPT:

Chapter One

Gunshots split the inky darkness.

Deputy Sydney Tucker hit the cold ground, a jagged rock slashing into her forehead on the way down. She reached for her service weapon. Came up empty handed. She’d stopped after work to check on the construction of her townhouse and left her gun and cell phone in the car.

Dumb, Sydney. Really dumb. Now what’re you gonna do?

Inching her head above knee-high grass, she listened. The keening whistle of the wind died, leaving the air damp and heavy with tension but silence reigned.

Had she overreacted? Could be target practice. But at night? Maybe. Hunters did crazy things sometimes.

Footfalls pounded from below like someone charging through the brush. No. Two people. Maybe a chase. One person after another. A loud crash, branches snapping.

“What’re you doin’, man,” a panicked male voice traveled through the night. “No! Don’t shoot! We can work this out.”

Three more gunshots rang out. A moan drifted up the hill.

Not target practice. Someone had been shot.

Sydney lurched to her feet, dizziness swirling around her. Blood dripped into her eyes. She wiped it away, blinked hard and steadied herself on a large rock while peering into the wall of darkness for the best escape route.

Heavy footfalls crunched up the gravel path.

“I know you’re here, Deputy Tucker,” a male voice, disguised with a high nasally pitch, called out. “We need to talk about this. C’mon out.”

Yeah, right. Come out and die. Not hardly.

Praying, pleading for safety, she scrambled deeper into the scrub. Over rocks. Through grass tangling her feet. Her heart pounded in her head, drowning the prayers with fear.

“I’m losing patience, Deputy,” he called again in that strange voice. “You’re not like Dixon. He had it coming. You don’t.”

Dixon? Did he mean the man she arrested for providing alcohol to her teenage sister and for selling drugs? Was that what this was about?

Rocks skittered down the incline. The shooter was on the move again. No time to think. She had to go. Now!

Blindly she felt her way past shrubs, over uneven ground. Dried leaves crunched underfoot. Branches slapped her face and clawed at her arms, but she stifled her cries of pain.

“I hear you, Deputy.”

She wrenched around to determine his location. A protruding rock caught her foot, catapulting her forward. She somersaulted through the air. Her knee slammed into the packed earth and she crashed down the hill. Wrapping arms around her head for protection, she came to a stop, breath knocked out of her chest, lying flat on her back in a thick stand of weeds.

“So you want to play it that way, do you Deputy? Fine. Just remember, you can run, but you can’t hide. I will find you. This will be resolved one way or another.” His disembodied laugh swirled into the night.

The darkness pressed closer. Blinding. Overwhelming. Terrifying.

She was easy prey. Even with her bulletproof vest, a few rounds fired in her direction would take her out. She had to get up.

She rose to her knees, but pain knifed into her knee, keeping her anchored to the ground.

Lord, please don’t let me die like this. Give me the strength to move. I need to live for Nikki. She’s only seventeen. She has no one.

Sydney uncurled and came to a standing position. Taking a few halting steps, she tested the pain. Nearly unbearable. But she could-no she had to do this for her sister.

Thinking of Nikki, she gritted her teeth and set off, moving slowly, taking care not to make a sound.

Out of the darkness, a hand shot out. Clamped over her mouth.

Screams tore from her throat, but died behind fingers pressed hard against her lips.

A muscled arm jerked her against a solid chest and dragged her deep into the brush.

God, please, no.

She twisted, arched her back, pushing against arms like iron bands.

She dug her heels into the ground, but he was too strong. He kept going deeper into the brush before settling them both on the ground behind a large boulder.

“Relax Sydney, it’s Russ Morgan,” Logan Lake’s Police Chief whispered, his lips close to her ear.

Russ Morgan? What was he doing here?

“Sorry about the hand.” His tone said she was nothing more than a stranger instead of someone she’d known for years. “I didn’t want you to alert the shooter with a scream. I’m gonna remove my hand now. Nod if you understand me.”

She let all of her relief escape in a sharp jerk of her head. His fingers dropped away.

“Once the shooter rounded that curve, you would’ve been a goner,” he whispered while still firmly holding her. “Good thing a neighbor reported gunshots.”

Sydney started to shiver and breathed deep to steady her galloping pulse. Air rushed into her lungs. She was alive, but barely. No thanks to her own skills.

“You okay?” he asked, his breath stirring her hair.

“Yes.” She willed her body to stop shaking and eased out a hiss of disappointment in her performance as a deputy. “How long have you been here?”

“Long enough to hear the shooter claim he’s hit Dixon and is coming after you next,” he whispered again, but urgency lit his voice and rekindled her fear. “This have to do with your arrest of Carl Dixon the other day?”

“I don’t know,” she whispered back. “I just stopped to check on the construction of my townhouse on my way home from work.”

“Off duty, huh? Explains why you don’t have your weapon drawn.”

“I left my duty belt in my car.” She waited for his reaction to not carrying, but he simply gave a quick nod as footfalls grated against gravel.

“Shh, he’s about to pass us.” Russ leaned forward and drew his gun with his free hand, but didn’t release his hold on her.

Crunching steps came within a few feet of their location. Halted.

“Can you feel me breathing down your neck, Deputy? I’m inches from finding you.” He didn’t know the accuracy of his words.

She felt Russ’s breathing speed up, upping her concern and washing away the brief blanket of security his arms provided. Adrenaline urged her to move. To keep from panicking, she focused on Russ’s unwavering weapon.

The shooter took a few steps closer. Her heart thumped, threatening to leave her chest. Russ tightened his hold as if he knew she wanted to bolt.

The shooter spun sending gravel flying then headed up the path.

As his footsteps receded, she tried to relax taut muscles. The warmth from Russ’s body helped chase out her fear and the chill of the night. Thank God Russ was here. If he hadn’t come.

She refused to go there. God had watched over her. Provided rescue, just not in the form she’d have chosen.

Not only was Russ an officer from the city police force-a team often in competition with the county sheriff’s department where she worked-but a man she’d had a crazy crush on in high school. A man whose rugged good looks still turned women’s heads.

She let out a long sigh.

“I know this’s awkward,” he whispered, “but hang tight for a few more minutes. We need to wait for him to head back down the hill.”

She wanted to protest and suggest they flee now, but not Russ. He thought clearly. Taking off now gave the killer the advantage of higher ground, making them moving targets. They’d have to sit like this until he passed them again.

If they made it out of here, which the approaching footfalls told her wasn’t at all certain.

They pounded closer. The shooter moved at a quick clip this time as if he thought she’d gotten away and he was fleeing. Or maybe he was heading to her car to lay in wait for her.

As the footsteps receded again, she felt Russ’s arm slacken.

“Time to roll,” he whispered. “Stay here.”

“But I-”

“You have a backup?” He referred to a back up gun officers often carry.

She shook her head.

“Then wait here.” He gave her the hard stare that’d made him famous around town and crept toward the path.

She leaned against the boulder and wrapped her arms around the warm circle on her waist where he’d held her. Without his warmth, she couldn’t quit shaking. The reality of the night froze her inner core.

She should listen to Russ. Lay low. Wait until he apprehended the killer.

That was the safe thing to do.

The easy thing to do.

The wrong thing to do.

Not for everyone, but for an officer of the law, letting a shooter escape without trying to stop him wasn’t an option. Even if that shooter had her in his sights, she’d make her way to her car for her gun and help Russ stop this maniac before he hurt anyone else.

*****

Near the ditch, Russ came to a stop and fought to catch his breath. Taillights on a mud splattered dirt bike roared up the trail. He’d warned the suspect to stop, but short of shooting him in the back, Russ couldn’t stop him from fleeing into the dark.

At least he’d accomplished his primary objective. To protect Sydney and keep her alive. Now he needed to alert his men and the sheriff’s office to the suspect’s whereabouts.

He lifted his shoulder mic and ordered a unit from his office to stake out the end of the trail for the motorcycle and an ambulance in case Dixon survived. Then he asked dispatch to patch him through to the county sheriff’s department to make sure they knew he’d taken charge of the scene so none of their hotshot deputies arrived with the hope of usurping control.

He turned on his Maglight and headed up the hill. The beam of light skipped over gravel and lush plants lining the winding path. Midway up, rustling brush stopped him cold. He’d left Sydney higher up. Nearer the lake.

Was a second shooter hoping to ambush him?

He flipped off his light and sought protection behind a tree. His breath came in little pulses in the unusually cold air for a typical Oregon fall. Adrenaline with little time to ebb away came roaring back, but even as the noise grew louder, he resisted the urge to take action

Maybe it was Sydney. The Sydney he used to know wouldn’t have listened to his directive and stayed put. She’d trounce down the hill, her chin tilted at the same insolent angle as when he told her he didn’t return her crazy crush her freshman year of high school. Not that he’d wanted to send a beautiful, lively girl like her away. He could easily have dated her, but he was four years older, in college. With their age difference, it wouldn’t have been right.

Bushes at the path’s edge shook then parted. Slowly, like a sleek panther, Sydney slipped out. He watched until she stood tall on those incredibly long legs he’d admired since she was sixteen before lowering his gun and aiming his flashlight at her.

She jumped. Peered up at him, an impudent look planted on her face. This was the Sydney he’d known as a teen and heaven help him, in less than thirty minutes, she’d sparked his interest again.

“Care to shine that somewhere other than my face.” She perched her hand over her eyes, warding off the glare.

He moved the light but not before he caught a good look at a gaping wound running from her hairline to eyebrow, covered in congealed blood. He lifted his hand to check out her injury, but stopped. He wouldn’t probe a wound on one of his men’s faces. As a fellow LEO-law enforcement officer-he wouldn’t treat Sydney any differently.

“I told you to stay put.” He infused his words with authority.

“I wanted to help. Wish I’d listened. I tripped over the body.” She held out blood-covered hands. Her eyes watered as if she might cry.

Man. Don’t do that. Don’t fall apart. He couldn’t remain detached if she started crying. He’d have to empathize, maybe give her a reassuring pat on the arm. Maybe feel her pain and resurrect all the reasons he’d left his homicide job in Portland.

He changed his focus. Nodded at the brush. “Show me the body.”

As a faint whine of sirens spiraled in the distance, she limped into tall grass, a grimace of pain marring her beautiful face. He followed, illuminating the area ahead of her. About ten feet in, she suddenly stopped. He shone his light a few feet ahead of her.

Diffused rays slid over a young male lying on his back. Russ swung the beam to the man’s face landing on open eyes staring into the blackness above.

Sydney gasped and swung around him. She rushed toward the main path. Even though Russ knew it was a lost cause, he bent down to check for a pulse. No question, this man hadn’t made it and no question about his identity. Carl Dixon, a man every LEO in the area knew from his frequent blips onto the police radar and the most recent arrest for selling drugs.

All that ended with three gunshots to the chest at close range from what Russ could see with his flashlight. Once they thoroughly processed the scene, he’d know better. But first, they needed to vacate the area before further contaminating the scene.

He found Sydney near the path, gaze fixed in the distance, hands clasped on her hips and exhaling long breaths as if trying to expel what she’d just seen.

Haunted eyes peered at him. “He’s dead, right?”

“Yeah.”

“And what about the killer?”

“Couldn’t catch him. He took off on a dirt bike.”

Disappointment crowded out the fear on her face. “Did you at least see him?”

“From the back. He was my height or a little taller, but lean. Wore a black stocking cap. The bike has a plate so it must be street legal. I caught the first few digits.”

“That’s something, then.”

Russ didn’t want to tell her it would do little for them in terms of searching DMV records as three digits would return thousands of bikes, but he didn’t think she could take any more bad news so he kept quiet. “Let’s head down to the parking lot.”

He gave her the flashlight and urged her to take the lead down the steep hill. Once on solid concrete, she handed it back to him. Holding it overhead, he watched her closely for dizziness or other impairments from her fall. He saw nothing out of the ordinary, but a head injury could mean a concussion. He’d have the EMT’s check her out when they got here.

He pointed at a rough-hewn bench. “Maybe you should sit down.”

“I’m fine ” Her voice cracked and she seemed embarrassed over reacting to the murder.

“It’s okay to be upset, Syd. A horrible thing happened tonight.”

“I’m fine really. I’ll be back to a hundred percent by morning.”

Text copyright © by Susan Sleeman

Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

My Review:

In Behind the Badge, Susan Sleeman has pulled off another riveting, love-inspired suspense. Sydney Tucker is a rookie cop who receives threatening phone messages, insinuating that someone may get hurt unless she turns over crucial evidence taken from the home of a drug bust.  She’s in a quandary,  as she has no idea what that evidence could be, as she didn’t take anything from the house.

Under the order of Logan Lake police chief, Russ Morgan, Sydney is assigned to work with him to find who is behind the threats being sent.  Having had a crush on Russ back in high school, she wonders how they will work together.  Little sparks of romance begin to seep out, but both try to keep wraps around their emotions, so they can concentrate on the investigation and subsequent protective custody. However, both Sydney and Russ have broken pasts and secrets that hinder their working and personal relationships.

Susan leads us on a wild goose chase, trying to stay ahead of the perpetrator.  The ever-changing plots and twists in the story thoroughly keep your attention as your mind tries to encapsulate who the culprit is.  The trails of evidence pull you into different directions, throwing you off course as to how you think it went down. The story line is vivid and true to the methods of police training and operations, with a few minor tweaks here and there by the characters to pull off secret plans!

Susan does a great job of exemplifying Nikki’s defiant attitude toward Sydney’s ‘unfair’ rules, escalating their relationship to the point where Nikki sneaks out and causes more problems throughout the deadly crisis.  She depicts the typical behavior for a defiant teenager trying to find her own way and fun, even if it eventually causes undue tension and danger for others.

Sydney’s faith kept her going throughout the whole ordeal, knowing God was aware of all that was transpiring, though she didn’t understand it all.  Russ wasn’t as open.  And Nikki—forget it, she too old for Sunday school times.

I was hooked by all the twists and plots, the numerous and innocuous phone messages, the perpetrator’s knowledge, the accuracy of police procedures, the romantic tension between Russ and Sidney, Sydney’s faith, and the defiant teenage behavior amidst the tension of a dangerous situation.  This is just as riveting as Susan’s previous novel, High-Stakes Inheritance.  She is an author that will go far!

This book was provided by Susan Sleeman in exchange for my honest opinion.  I was not required to write a good review.   No monetary compensation was exchanged.

“Angel Sister” by Ann H. Gabhart~~Revell Blog Tour (with review)

Perseverance, True Love, and Forgiveness in Troubling Times

Book Blurb:

It is 1936, and Kate Merritt works hard to keep her family together.  Her father has slipped into alcoholism, her mother is trying to come to grips with their dire financial situation, and her sisters seem to remain blissfully oblivious to all of it.  Kate could never have imagined that a dirty, abandoned little girl named Lorena Birdsong would be just what her family needs.

In this richly textured novel, award-winning author, Ann H. Gabhart, reveals the power of true love, the freedom of forgiveness, and the strength to persevere through troubled time, all against the backdrop of a sultry Kentucky summer.

Bio:

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several novels, including The Outsider, The Believer, and The Seeker Angel Sister was inspired in part by the many stories her mother and three aunts told her of growing up in small-town Kentucky during the 1930s.  Gabhart lives with her husband in Kentucky, a mile from where she was born.

(Photos were retrieved here for the express purpose of reviewing this book.)

Endorsement:

“What a jewel of a story.  Like a Kentucky summer, Angel Sister stars slow and easy, but by the end, roars along, leaving the reader breathless and wanting more.”  –Lauraine Snelling  Author of the Red River series, Daughters of Blessing series, and One Perfect Day.

My Review:

Not ever hearing anyone personally share the difficult times of the 1930s, I found Ann H. Gabhart’s book, Angel Sister, one extremely interesting and touching book.

I was so moved by the issues (what we now call PTSD) that Victor struggled with, and how he used alcohol to drown out the horrors from war and the rejection of his father, though he hated himself while doing it.  I could empathize with the distress that Nadine, his wife, went through with his bouts of alcoholism.  Though her love didn’t seem to waver, the relationship was strained.  Katie, the middle daughter, takes on the brunt of the issues, while her older and younger sisters seem more oblivious to the turmoil. How Victor and Nadine tenderly nurtured their children in midst of the difficult circumstances really touched my heart.  That does not always happen in difficult times!

I, personally, had to question my own faith when the faith of each main character was severely challenged in ways that would make them either call out to God or walk away.  The faithful prayers of friends and family, along with gentle confrontation, showed the changes only God could produce.  Was it then all rose-colored glasses and happily-ever-after?  No, but deep character, true love, the process of forgiveness, and the ability to persevere through difficult circumstances were honestly displayed.

The day Katie finds abandoned, five-year-old Lenora Birdsong on the steps of the church, life for the Victor Merritt family changes–some for the better and others in heartbreaking, tumultuous decisions.  Ann had me rooting for our modern-day rules to override what actually takes place.

Although Angel Sister is an emotionally-charged book to read, Ann shares  how to handle life’s difficult challenges through love and prayer.  Definitely a great book for anyone to read!

This book was provided by Donna Hausler, Publicity Assistant at Baker Publishing Group, in exchanged for my honest review.

You can purchase this book here or here.

FIRST Blog Tour (with review) “WORDS” by Ginny L. Yttrup

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:

Words

B&H Books (February 1, 2011)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DISCRIPTION:

“I collect words. I keep them in a box in my mind. Whenever I wanted, I’d open the box and pick up the papers, reading and feeling the words all at once. Then I could hide the box. But the words are safer in my mind. There, he can’t take them.”

Ten-year old Kaylee Wren doesn’t speak. Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in a remote cabin nestled in the towering redwoods-in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil. With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary.

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

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

Product Details:

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

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

“In the beginning was the Word.”

John 1:1

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

Annie Dillard

Chapter One

Kaylee

I collect words.

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

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

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

Su-per-flu-ous.

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

How does it sound when someone says it?

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

My mom left.

I got scared.

And the words got stuck.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not even that you have a daughter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I read…

I forget.

That’s how it works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The song makes me feel sad.

I don’t think Jesus loves me anymore.

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

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

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

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

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

I hope he’ll drown in it.

But he won’t die tonight.

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

Chapter Two

Sierra

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

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

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

Prints—signed and numbered. Five hundred in all.

Contract negotiations with two new galleries. Done.

Showing in Carmel last night. Successful.

Mortgage paid. On time for once.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sierra, I didn’t wake you, did I?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m not drinking Earl.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Honey, do you know why I farm?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:

WORDS, by Ginny L. Yttrup, is the story of ten-year-old Kaylee Wren who doesn’t speak.  In fact, she hasn’t talked since her drug-addicted mother walked away, leaving her in the care of a dangerous and evil man in a forest cabin surrounded by towering redwood trees.  Silence becomes her refuge while in this man’s ‘care,’ and she uses the dictionary her mother left behind to occupy her time.

Sierra Dawn is a thirty-four-year-old artist who lives alone after losing her daughter, Annie, at birth.  She allows the shame of her past to silence her dreams and hopes, and attempts to control her pain by controlling her circumstances.  Her dog, Van Gogh, is one of her comforts, as well as her friend, Ruby and her husband.  She does not think of God as her friend.  However, on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter’s death, she finds that God has not forgotten her and her deceased daughter.  His plans would change her life and the life of a little girl!  Oh, and the life of Dr. Peter Langstrom!

Ginny uses alternate points of view with each chapter of the book, leaving you privy to the inside thoughts and feelings of the main characters.  The depth of each character is richly developed and exposed, reaching deeply into your own psyche and emotions.  Their feelings become yours, as you live through the pain of their lives.  Some of the interactions are heart-wrenching to the bone, while others give you glimpses of success and breakthroughs.

The way that Kaylee learned to cope through her circumstances is typical for children.  Adults try to cope as well, only with different means, such as busyness, TV, alcohol, drugs, etc.   It’s through the prayers of friends and family that Sierra once again entrusts her life into the Lord’s hands.  She in turn shows the way of healing freedom to Kaylee through the use of words, finding the True Word—Jesus Christ.

I found Ginny’s book to be an insightful story for people dealing with children (and adults) who have suffered childhood abuse at the hands of others.  You will find the tender mercies of the Lord shining through.