Gail's Book Nook

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Looking Out the Window: Watch Me by Christa Allan


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


Christa reminds us in a poignant, touching way that parenting is forever, and we need God's help.



She will be giving away a copy of her debut novel,Walking on Broken Glass.


Look for her new book, Edge of Grace, in August.
                                                                                        



              WATCH ME
                                          
          
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb." Psalm 139:15 NLT

When my children were young, we lived in an area with a community pool. The kids and I would schlep there, the car a container of wiggling bodies, pool toys, and over-sized towels. Sometimes Penny, our saved from the dog pound pooch, would trot behind the car and follow us for the three blocks it took to arrive.

The older kids would peel themselves off the car seats and dash in. Shannon and John would do the barefoot-on-the-hot-concrete-alternating-foot-high-step while I totted Sarah. Eventually, we'd locate a spot to accommodate us--generally, the people who were already there were happy to clear out--and we were ready for splash down.

While I'd be crouching in the baby pool digging wet leaves out of John's mouth or trying to stop Sarah from drinking the pool water, a chorus of "Watch me, Mommy! No, watch ME, mommy!" Watch this, MOM!" would rise from the shallow end of the big pool.

It was like being at a tennis match, with three balls in play at one time. I'd glance at the two kids hovering around my ankles (which looked three times their normal puffy size through the water, my ankles--not the kids), then I'd quickly look up and start counting heads. If I could not find Head #3, I'd be sliced open by a bolt of panic. Which one? There's Michael. There's Erin. Okay, where is Shannon? I'd scream at her siblings to look for her. After their eye rolls, they'd point to the steps. And there she'd be. Her pink "babing" suit clinging to her wiry little body, her blonde hair looking pre-punk rocker in its just surfaced from the water wetness. She'd smile at me, and I'd be drenched with relief.

Reading that passage in Psalms reminds me of those days of being the watcher. Sometimes I miss that. They're older now. But I wonder how many times, in their adult lives, their hearts have called out, "Watch me, Mommy."

Watch me as I struggle with friendships and dating, as I graduate from high school, as I pretend to be happy when my dream is crushed. Watch me, mommy, as I start college and face challenges of independence and working; watch me as I begin to learn who I am. Watch me mommy as I go to Italy with the Navy, as I get married, as I move to another home. Watch me, mommy, when my son dies, when my daughter is born. Watch me, mommy, take the steps you'd knew I'd have to take all along--those steps to self-reliance and trust and hope and faith.

Watch. To keep vigil. To guard. To protect.

Watch me, God. Watch them.

BIO:

A true Southern woman who knows that any cook worth her gumbo always starts with a roux and who never wears white after Labor Day, Christa Allan’s novel Edge of Grace will release in August. Her debut women’s fiction, Walking on Broken Glass, was published by Abingdon Press in 2010. Her next three novels are scheduled for 2013 and 2014,

Her essays have been published in The Ultimate Teacher, Cup of Comfort, Chicken Soup for the Coffee Lover’s Soul and Chicken Soup for the Divorced Soul. Christa is the mother of five, a grandmother of three, and a teacher of high school English. She and her husband Ken live in Abita Springs.

To learn more about Christa visit her blog at http://Christaallan.com/
To enter to win the copy of Walking on Broken Glass leave a comment and your email address.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Looking Out the Window: Beach Walking with God by Leigh Delozier


Christian writer, speaker Leigh Delozier shares her experience the day the clouds stood still when she walked on the beach in Charleston, S.C.

BEACH WALKING WITH GOD


It’s a beautiful spring day, and I’m walking on the beach in Charleston, SC, with friends while we enjoy a girls’ weekend away from the world. The sun is already warming things up and the sky is bluer than blue, even though there are a lot of clouds trying to cover it up. But they’re pure, white clouds with no rain in sight – it’s just the right setting for a lazy day together.

The sand is flat and packed down perfectly for walking. Countless shells lie half-buried near the water. So many colors, so many shapes, so many designs. Seeing things like that reminds me just how creative God really is.

Waves curl and roll up and back, up and back, depositing new shells while they steal away others. Where did the shells come from? How far have they traveled? How many beaches have they washed up on, only to be pulled back into the salty depths before someone could rescue them and admire their beauty?

Sometimes the crash of waves almost drowns out our conversation. One friend and I talked this morning about the passage in Revelation that says Christ’s voice was like the rushing waters. She thinks the ocean is like God talking. I’ve never thought of it like that before, but like the idea.

We reach a place where the sand changes hardness and lots of shell bits crunch beneath our bare feet. I head to the left of the shells and my friends split off to the right, closer to the water. Now I can’t hear anything they’re saying, so enjoy the time alone to soak everything in.

I tilt my head back to look at the sky. The clouds are every shape and size imaginable – they remind me of fuzzy cotton balls, lumpy white potatoes, and streaks of cotton batting stretched across the sky. But one cloud looks different to me. It’s one fluffy blob surrounded by bright blue sky, all by itself. Streaks of other clouds look like they’re shooting out from it at all angles, like rays from a bright summer sun.

As soon as I see it, I think, “That’s like me.” The cloud is me, with all of life around me. The world is always shifting and changing just like the clouds. I can either float along and keep my own identity or merge with the others and be just like them. I don’t want to always be like everyone else.

The streaks shooting out are the ways I touch the world – the things I do, the words I say, the impressions I leave whether I realize it or not. They reach much further than I think.

And all around me is the big picture – God and His plan for me, always there, shifting to remind me of His presence and accommodating my ventures on – and off – His course.

All these thoughts go through my mind in a flash – just quick impressions. I know I’ll sit and sift through them later and try to figure out the message God might be trying to teach me.

As I write this, I wonder where those clouds are now, hours later. Are they still traveling down the Atlantic coast, halfway to Florida? How long did they keep that formation before shifting into countless other patterns on their journey? Did anyone else look up and see them and think they were seeing something special? Or was this a moment just for me, when God took the time to suspend nature and draw my attention to it so I could be reminded of my place in His universe, and how incredibly awesome He is?

To anyone else, it was probably just a collection of clouds skittering across the sky. But for some reason, it was more than that for me that day. Even now, years later, I can still see those clouds and feel the sand under my sunburned feet. I’ll never know why God chose to reach down and share those seconds with me, but I’ll always be grateful He did.

To learn more about Leigh visit her Web site at http://www.leighdelozier.com/

Monday, May 23, 2011

LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW: Linda Weaver Clarke Book Celebration and Giveaway

Book Release Celebration for Mystery/Adventure Novel and Book Give-Away

May 23 – June 1



To win a mystery/adventure novel with a touch of romance, leave a comment at http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com/.

But that's not all! You may also be eligible to win two free e-books as part of this contest.




Montezuma’s Treasure and Family Secrets are Themes for Mystery Novel


Mysterious events, the search for Montezuma’s treasure, a good-looking rogue, and family secrets! How important is it to learn about the past? Will it make a difference in one’s life and the choices we make? To April, it makes a big difference. Knowing about her parentage changes her perspective of life.

With a blend of mystery, adventure, humor, and sweet romance, Linda Weaver Clarke creates a story based upon the adventures of a married couple and their three daughters in “Montezuma Intrigue.”

When a leather parchment of Montezuma’s map is found in great-grandfather Evans’ old chest, April and the twins know this summer is going to be a memorable one. The girls want to search for it but their father is against it for some mysterious reason. With Julia’s help, she and the girls convince John to go on a treasure hunt. Is Montezuma’s treasure a legend or reality? Whatever the case, John insists on keeping their little treasure hunt a secret. If certain people find out about it, the family could be in danger.

Suko’s Notebook wrote, “In the latest book by Linda Weaver Clarke, Montezuma Intrigue, the mysteries continue as this author entrances us with life-like characters and electrifying adventures. The search for Montezuma's treasure is both exciting and memorable--I am spell-bound!”

While searching for Montezuma’s treasure, Matthew is trying to get the courage to tell April how he feels about her. How does he tell his kindred friend that she means more to him than just a friend?

Oblivious of Matthew’s feelings for her, April is gradually learning the importance of her heritage. Who were her ancestors and why has the family kept a certain “secret” all these years? This mystery series includes Anasazi Intrigue, Mayan Intrigue, and Montezuma Intrigue.

THE WINNERS!

Linda Weave Clarke won Shannon Vannatter's White Doves.

June Foster -- Christine Lindsay's Shadowed in Silk.

And Lauren Brooks -- Jo Huddleston's Amen and Good Night God.

Congratulations to the winners and thanks to the authors for sharing their wonderful devotionals and books.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Looking Out the Window: Jo Huddleston Shares a Modern Day Miracle



Jo will be giving away a signed copy of her prayer book, Amen and Good Night, God.


Equipment for Valley Travel


My bedside vigil stretched into days as I watched meningitis suck precious life from the still form of my college-age child. Sunday afternoon I sat alone with my daughter, watching the disease apparently winning its battle. Gone were the twinkle in her eyes and the ready smile on her lips. The nurse had just left, the same one who had been coming in every 15 minutes to take vital signs. Pained and discouraged, I watched when she recorded on her chart a blood pressure reading only half what it should be.

Alone again in the hospital room, each of us experienced our own unique agony. Lying curled in a fetal position, my daughter moved only her eyes. With them almost swollen shut, she looked up at me through her consumed torture. "Mother, this may be my time to die," she whispered. No panic or fear registered in her words or in her fevered eyes.

The same thought had been silently hammering inside my mind all afternoon. Holding her limp hand in mine, I leaned closer and said quietly, "Darling, it may be." She shared a labored smile with me and slowly closed her eyes.

Amazingly, I did not curse God or offer him any arguments or attempt to bargain with Him to spare her life. I knew without doubt that my daughter believed in God's Son and trusted Him for her salvation and eternal life.

As precious minutes slipped away in that lonely hospital room, I trusted God for his comfort and everlasting strength to support me (Isaiah 26:4). I rested in the assurance that my daughter also claimed these same promises. I saw peace on her swollen face when she closed her eyes. We both accepted God's will.

Our pastor and his wife came by after evening church services. They barely concealed their shock at seeing my daughter’s hands and face twice their normal size. After speaking encouragement to her, they prayed with us in that still, quiet hospital room.

Looking back, I can only believe the Holy Spirit influenced every medical move my daughter's doctors and nurses made. The next day, her health made an unbelievable change for the better. Since she was fully recovered by Wednesday morning, the doctors released her from their care.

On Wednesday evening when our pastor found my daughter's hospital bed empty, he asked about her at the nurses’ station. Later he told us how much the nurses had marveled about her unexplainable recovery. "It's just a miracle that she survived," one nurse told him. We all smile now, knowing what absolute truth she spoke.

Does a Christian experience valleys between the mountaintop experiences? Yes. Those trying days when it was evident I might outlive my daughter were one of the deepest valleys I’ve traveled. God promises His buffering strength and calming peace for valley travel. We can always cling to His promises, "For he himself is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14).

ABOUT AMEN AND GOOD NIGHT GOD

This volume of 120 evening prayers can help you review the concerns of the day with a comforting God. Dr. Walter G. Nunn, reviewing for The Alabama Baptist, wrote, “These prayers deal with down-to-earth concerns. Quite frankly, these words provide inspiration at its highest level inasmuch as these prayers are simple, honest longings from the heart.”





BIO

Jo Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories and teaches at writers’ conferences. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and a member of the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN). Visit with her at http://www.johuddleston.com/ and also at her blog http://johuddleston.blogspot.com./

To enter to win a signed copy of Jo's wonderful prayer book leave a comment and an email address.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Looking Out the Window: Christine Lindsay's Shadowed in Silk and the Story of Priat, the Secret Princess



Christine will be giving away a download of her
new book, Shadowed in Silk. To enter to win leave a
comment with an email address.






















SECRET PRINCESS
India’s evening air caresses like warm silk. A small mountain of kid-sized sandals sits close to a wooden beam holding up the makeshift roof. Voices of hundreds of children fill this tiny Christian church in the center of the bustling city in the south of India.

The children sit on rugs, thick blankets, and bamboo matting on a floor of deep, clean sand. Counselors and specially chosen kids from the congregation lead in dance sequences. The Indian style music, heavy with the beat of tom toms, and each willow-like hand gesture and foot movement holds traces of ancient India. It was at a camp setting like this one that a young girl by the name of Priat first heard about Jesus Christ.

Like many of the children in this camp setting, Priat came from a low-caste Indian family, the Dalits. In years past this group of people were called ‘untouchables’. Dalits are not allowed into Hindu temples, the children are not allowed to go beyond a few years of basic schooling, and only the lowliest, most degrading jobs are given to Dalits, so that they are forced to live in slums.

As a Dalit, Priat grew up with the conviction that she could hope for no more from life than being a farm laborer in one of the local rice paddies. That was until she came to the Christian church one day for a weeklong camp, and heard stories about Jesus.

When camp came to a close, Priat took tentative steps toward the pastor. “In the Bible it says that if a person believes in Jesus as their savior, they become a child of God. Is this true?”

“Yes,” the pastor said. “We can only become a child of God through Jesus the Son of God.”

Priat mulled this over. “So, if a girl believes in Jesus, she becomes a daughter of God?”

“Yes.” The Pastor smiled.

Priat wrinkled her brow. “So, if God is the greatest Rajah (ruler) over all other rulers, then if I believe in Jesus I would become a princess of God?”

The pastor’s smile deepened. “Yes, Priat, when you believe in Jesus, you become a princess of God.”

The young girl’s eyes glistened. “So as a princess of God, I can go to school if I want to.”

I first heard the story of Priat on a recent missionary trip to India. The enlightenment that Priat received that day is one that I had also learned. No matter what part of the world we live in, people must come to the realization that when they belong to Him, they become His sons or daughters of great value, and no one can take that away. And no one can make us feel less than what we are in Christ’s eyes.

This understanding is one that I share in my fictional debut novel, SHADOWED IN SILK.

She was invisible to those who should have loved her.

ABOUT SHADOWED IN SILK
After the Great War, Abby Fraser reunites with her husband in India, where he is stationed with the British army. She has longed to return to the land of glittering palaces and veiled women . . . but she doesn’t find the charming husband she remembers waiting for her. Nick has become a cruel stranger and a cruel father to their three-year old son. She draws on her American pluck to overcome the hostility that surrounds her – at home and in the streets of India. But she soon discovers that it will take more than courage to survive.

Major Geoff Richards, broken over the loss of so many of his men in the battle trenches of France, returns to his cavalry post in Amritsar. His faith remains true, but it does little to help him understand the ruthlessness of his British peers toward the Indian people he loves. Nor does it explain how he is to protect Abby Fraser and her child from her husband who mistreats them.

Amid political unrest, inhospitable deserts, and Russian spies, tensions rise in India as the people cry for the freedom espoused by Gandhi. Caught between their own ideals and duty, Geoff and Abby stumble into sinister secrets . . . secrets that will thrust them out of the shadows and straight into the fire of revolution.

SHADOWED IN SILK will be released by WhiteFire Publishing as an eBook on May 1, and as a printed book in Sept. 1 of 2011. Purchase can be made at any eBook retailer, Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobel, Borders….

I hope you will be able to obtain a copy of this book that is precious to my heart. If you’d like to read more about me and my writing journey, you can find me on my website  http://www.christinelindsay.com/

Christine Lindsay writes historical inspirational novels with strong love stories, and she doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. Her debut novel SHADOWED IN SILK is set in India during a turbulent era. Christine’s long-time fascination with the British Raj was seeded from stories of her ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in India. SHADOWED IN SILK won the 2009 ACFW Genesis for Historical under the title Unveiled.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Looking Out the Window: Regina Andrews Tells How God Turned a Difficult Situation into a Blessing



                                                             


"Serve the LORD with gladess; come before His presence with singing."Psalm 100:2

People love to hear music when they attend church. It adds another dimension to the service. I am sure that in your own personal experience you recall times in your life that were heightened by the music being played in church. My father’s funeral is one such memory, to me. Even this week’s Royal Wedding was uplifted with glorious music and the divine songs of a choir.

But harmony is not always prevalent. We have been experiencing a crisis in our church choir for months now, one that has tested the limits of our tolerance and true Christian spirits as individuals and as a group.

The trouble began last October when our music minister and his wife, the organist, resigned. Our Pastor and self-appointed Choir Spokesman set out together to search for a new Music Director. They recruited someone who was approved by the Parish council. We were all thrilled to hear that we would have a new choir director in time for Christmas.

During our first meeting with him, our very first rehearsal together, there was a sense of resistance when he distributed the music we would be singing. Much eye-rolling, too. For the selections were not, shall we say, sophisticated.

All right, I thought, we are here to serve. It’s a ministry. Perhaps this is a new aspect of how we are being asked to serve. Surely we will all join together and respect the Choirmaster, and respect the Pastor.

Putting personal agendas aside for the greater good.

However, it didn’t quite go this way. People refused to sing. Really, a choral boycott, if you can believe it. And the self-appointed Choir Spokesman circulated a petition the following day, declaring the new Choirmaster ‘unfit.’

When they handed it to me to me to sign, I refused and asked them a question of my own: regardless of how any one of us may feel personally, aren’t we obliged to support the Choirmaster and the Pastor out of respect for them?

Ever since then, I have been ostracized. Left out of conversations, avoided at rehearsals, ignored at every turn.

However, their ban has had quite an interesting effect: when I attend rehearsals and Mass, I am almost enveloped in a private world of beauty and love, where I commune with God one-on-one and sing with all my heart. I’m not listening to their harpings. I’m not embroiled in their complaints. I’m not involved in their schemes and intrigues.

As Saint Augustine said, singing is an elevated form of prayer, and in isolating me from themselves, my friends have actually freed me from their negativity and allowed me to join in unity and harmony and soulful prayer with God. I could almost thank them, in a way. For even though their lock-out of me has not had the effect they intended it to have, it has been very effective - it has opened another channel of oneness with God for me.

This week, the changes were made. The Pastor excused many of the choir members, and actually asked others not to come back. I will miss my friends, in a way, for they are good people. Just not in the right arena. Perhaps some will re-think and return; I hope so.

We sing about forgiveness, redemption, being welcome, being called. What good is it if we can’t put it into practice when there are bumps in the road? We sing with our voices and our hearts. I hope the music will once again serve to unite us as a choir, as a parish community and as a Christians once again. Let them know we are Christians by our love.

I keep thinking about the way they ostracized me and how it turned out to be something so wonderful. Has something like this ever happened to you, that something so dreadful actually turned into a way for you to grow closer to God? What did you do about it?




Here's an Excerpt from Regina's new book, Light of the Heart.      
                
Cascade's heart pounded. "Father Greene. Stay with me!" she urged as forcefully as she could. She knew from experience how easily it was for people to just slip away. Tears brimmed in her eyes. "Come on, hang in there."

"What's wrong, Cascade?"

Dan's voice filled the vestibule at the entrance of the church, out of sight from her.

"Over here, Dan, on the side in the sanctuary," she called. "Hurry, please!"

After what seemed to be only a split-second, Dan appeared. "What happened?"

"Father Greene was assaulted for the collection basket."

Grabbing his cell phone, Dan dialed 911 and spoke with authority. "Make it fast, we have an elderly priest who is beaten," he directed. He hung up saying, "They'll be right here."

Cascade closed her eyes and said a silent prayer of thanksgiving. "Thank you."

"I'm fine, I'm fine. No fuss." Father Green let out a low groan.

After the ambulance left and the police had taken their statements, she and Dan sat in the back pew.
"That's all I saw. I just came by to surprise him with my plans for the CYO art project. No one else was around. When I came in, he was on the floor."

Tears welled up in her eyes. She tried, but she could not contain them. "It was awful."

"He'll be okay, Cascade."

The tone of Dan's voice felt so soothing to Cascade, like aloe on a raging sunburn. "Thank goodness, but what's going on, Dan? Assaulting an elderly priest? It breaks my heart." She could not stop her tears. "This rotten town."

"Let's head out." Dan guided them out the front entrance of the church. They sat on the steps. "I sure am glad we stopped by."

Cascade nodded. It felt good to be outside, in the sunshine. The light warmed her spirit.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

"Sure. No. It's all so wrong."

"What is?"

"The fact that Father Greene has to put up with is. Doesn't he have enough on his mind? Church renovations, dwindling enrollment in the school, cutbacks from the Diocese, a shortage of priests… What are you looking at me like that for?"

"You seem to know a lot about what's going on here."

"I read up on things, before I opted in on the windows." She tilted her chin skyward.

"I'm kind of surprised, given how you seemed so anti-Sterling Lakes."

How could she tell him about the soul-searching she had done? How she had held up a mirror to her heart and seen the change she needed to make to be true to herself? Most of all, how could she tell him what a big part he had played in her decision?

"You're right, I was. Then I listened to Abby and Maryanne...and you. Plus I prayed, a lot. I think, Dan, what I realized is that carrying a torch of resentment will eventually get me burned."

"I'm glad to hear that."

"I thought I knew that, but when I had to act according to what I said I believed, it was tough."

She took off her sunglasses and looked right at him. "Holding on to anger or resentment can be a real cop-out. It's hiding in a comfort zone and escaping from having to move forward. But ultimately," she sighed, "I’ll be the one to lose out because the cocoon I’ve built around myself will get so hard I won't be able to break out of it."

"Makes sense." He checked his cell phone, and then slipped it back into his jeans pocket.

"Do you have to go?"

"Nope. Can I ask you something, Cascade? What happened here in town to make you so mad?"

"I'm not sure why you want to know, but I'll tell you."

"I'd like to get to know you better."

She looked at him, the sunlight playing across his handsome face, illuminating his features and dancing through his dark hair. His eyes seemed bluer than blue and filled with an expression she couldn't quite identify. But she liked it. A lot.

Bio

A resident of Providence, RI, Regina grew up in nearby Barrington. After graduating from Providence College she attended the University of Delaware, eventually earning her Master’s Degree in American Civilization from Brown University. She is inspired by anything to do with nature, and she and her husband enjoy visiting nearby Cape Cod.

Regina’s hobbies include Travel, Museums, Theater, Classical Music, Choral Singing and Gardening. She is a radio host for In-Sight, an association dedicated to providing services to the visually impaired of all ages.

Read more about Regina at her Web site: http://www.reginaandrews.com/
And visit her blog at http://www.reginaandrews.wordpress.com/