Wednesday, January 28, 2009

WILD Card Tour: The Someday List by Stacy Hawkins Adams

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:


The Someday List

Revell (January 1, 2009)


The Someday List Blog Tour Giveaway
Tell Us One Item on Your Someday List. Leave your answer in the comment section. Participants will be entered into a drawing for The Someday List Blog Giveaway. View the prize package below:

* $50 American Express Gift Card

*Autographed Copies of all of Stacy’s books: Speak to My Heart, Nothing But the Right Thing, and Watercolored Pearls, and the anthologies The Midnight Clear and This Far By Faith.

*20% Discount Coupon from Tywebbin Creations. (May apply to one service)

Join Us for an Hour Long Chat with Stacy on January 30, 2009. We will announce the GRAND PRIZE WINNER of the THE SOMEDAY LIST BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY during the call.

Phone #: 1-518-825-1400 / Access Code: 15642 / Time: 8:00 pm EST

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Stacy Hawkins Adams is a nationally-published, award-winning author and speaker. Her contemporary women’s fiction novels are filled with social themes and spiritual quests that take readers on journeys into their own souls.

She holds a degree in journalism and served as a newspaper reporter for more than a decade before turning her full attention to penning books, speaking professionally and writing freelance articles.

She is currently writing her sixth novel and her first nonfiction book, an inspirational title that will encourage women in their faith.

Stacy lives in a suburb of Richmond, Virginia with her husband and two young children.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Revell (January 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800732669
ISBN-13: 978-0800732660

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Prologue

Rachelle fumbled with the bouquet of yellow roses and locked eyes with him. Her flowers sagged from thirst.

The simple gold band she clutched stuck to her sweaty palm.

Instead of a flowing white gown, she wore the black pencil skirt and short-sleeved white silk blouse that, until today, had served as her choral ensemble uniform.

Her groom was dressed in his standard singing attire too—white collared shirt, black tie, and black slacks. He had removed the diamond earring from his left earlobe, his goatee was freshly cut, and as far as she was concerned, he had never looked finer.

Between the two of them, the worldly goods they possessed amounted to less than what Rev. Prescott likely paid to have his preaching robe cleaned.

And yet, she knew this was right. The right time, the right place, and the right man, even if she had to marry him in secret.

One day they would look back on this elopement with tenderness and pride, telling their children about their union in an empty church sanctuary, not far from the university they would graduate from in six months.

He smiled at her and arched an eyebrow, questioning the delay in her response.

The minister repeated himself.

“Rachelle Marie Mitchell, do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?”

She smiled. Her beloved didn’t have to worry about her having second thoughts—not when she felt this way.

“I do, Reverend Prescott,” she said. “I do.”









1



Rachelle Mitchell Covington felt both giddy and guilty.

In twenty-four hours she would be completely alone and she couldn’t wait.

No worries about temporary empty-nest syndrome—she was happy to let her parents deal with two preadolescent know-it-alls for half of the summer. And no need to feign an interest in her husband’s wants, work, or even his world.

For the first time in their eleven-year marriage, she and Gabe would be away from each other for more than a week.

When he informed her that he had agreed to speak at a medical conference the week before he left for a medical mission trip, she knew he expected her to complain. Rachelle had frowned for his benefit, but also bit her lip to keep from cheering.

Though it was already steamy outside this morning, the temperature inside Houston’s Intercontinental Airport left her longing for her cashmere coat. Rachelle shivered and smiled when Tate and Taryn, looking like they had stepped off the pages of a Children’s Wear Digest catalog, turned to wave one last time before passing through the security gate and approaching a waiting airline employee.

The young woman in the crisp navy and white uniform would escort them to their direct flight to Philadelphia.

The fifth and third graders had been trying to whine their way out of their annual summer visit with Rachelle’s parents for two days, because they would miss their friends, feared boredom, and believed Gram would have way too many rules. Rachelle had reminded them again this morning that, despite those perceived hardships, they had no problem enjoying the regular outings, video games, and other treats they enjoyed during their stay.

When Tate and Taryn disappeared around a bend that led to Terminal A, Gabe turned toward Rachelle and motioned with his head that he was ready to go. He and Rachelle walked briskly toward the parking deck without touching or talking.

Gabe walked a stride or two ahead of her, as if he were on a mission. He tempered his gait as they neared his SUV, and he unlocked the doors with his key chain device.

“I’m not going into the office this morning since I’ll be flying out early tomorrow,” he said without looking toward Rachelle.

“Let’s grab breakfast at Olivette.”

Rachelle scrambled for an excuse, but none presented itself.

She hadn’t mentioned that she soon would be leaving too, for a weekend trip to the West Coast. It didn’t matter that he didn’t know. He wasn’t going to be home anyway.

“That’s fine,” she finally said about breakfast, although he had already steered his Mercedes in the direction of the hotel restaurant.

They rode in silence during the half-hour drive and didn’t speak until the waitress asked for their order.

Rachelle sighed and responded by rote. “He’ll have smoked salmon and a bagel with a side of fresh fruit.”

Gabe nodded and looked up at the waitress. “She got it right.”

“Salmon and bagel with a side of fruit,” the waitress repeated, lodging the order in her memory.

Rachelle leveled her eyes at Gabe. “Order for me.”

He peered at her over the rim of his glasses. “How would I know what to order for you?”

Rachelle didn’t feel like playing along with his public politeness today. She sat back and folded her arms.

“Try.”

The waitress shifted from one foot to the other and turned her gaze to a nearby bank of potted plants.

Gabe’s nostrils flared and he clenched his teeth. “Just order something already.”

“If you can’t do it, I guess I’m not hungry,” Rachelle said.

Gabe opened the leather-encased menu and glared at the offerings.

Seconds later, he pushed it into the waitress’s face. Startled, she grabbed it before it landed on the Oriental rug beneath the table.

“Bring her an omelet with ham, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese.”

The waitress nodded and left quickly, her reddish-brown ponytail swaying with each step. Rachelle knew the young lady had to be wondering how a couple could fight over a breakfast order.

If she had asked, Rachelle would have assured her this skirmish was overdue.

Since she had received Jillian’s unsettling invitation three weeks ago, Rachelle’s tolerance for just about everything had plummeted.

With the kids away for the next month, she didn’t have to contain herself. Gabe should be thankful he was leaving for a business trip tomorrow.

He laid his linen napkin across his lap and stared at her.

Rachelle challenged him with her eyes. She wanted him to care enough to question her, to probe why she was being defiant.

But just as she knew what to order for his meal, she knew he wouldn’t take the bait. He was his usual, detached self—enveloped in skin that was a smooth, savory brown and as self-absorbed as a two-year-old whose favorite words were “no” and “mine.”

In that moment, something welled up inside of her. She looked past Gabe’s glasses, past the perfect white teeth, past the pool of nothingness in his eyes. She wanted to see into his soul. She wanted to know that he had an “I would die for you” kind of love inside of him. For her.

Even if they had been together for what seemed like forever. Even if she didn’t know how she really felt about him. If one of them could summon the emotion, maybe that would make all the difference.

He was leaving tomorrow for New York and would return home for one day before traveling to Uganda. In twenty-four hours, she’d have the entire house to herself. But right now, she realized, she needed to leave to save herself.

Right now, what mattered more than being a good wife was being good to herself. Hearing from Jillian for the first time in a long time was nudging her to stop procrastinating.

Rachelle took a sip of her coffee and rose from her seat. “Stay and enjoy your breakfast. Call a taxi when you’re done. I may or may not be at home by then.”

“What—”

Before he could protest, Rachelle raised her hand to stop him.

Her voice trembled when she addressed him in a whisper.

“Gabe, I’m tired of playing like the happy couple. Our life is strangling me. I want a real marriage and this isn’t it . . . And by the way, I’ve always hated cheddar cheese.”

She grabbed her purse from the back of her chair and strode toward the door, heart pounding as if it would burst through her sleeveless tangerine top.

Had she really done that? Did she just walk away from her well-to-do, handsome husband and leave him stranded in a restaurant?

What would her parents say? Their friends? For the first time that she could recall, those questions wouldn’t determine her actions.

Rachelle slowed her pace when she reached the restaurant’s entrance and nodded farewell to the hostess. She strode through the lobby of the Houstonian Hotel and thanked the bellhop who held open the door for her. While the valet retrieved Gabe’s Mercedes truck, she stood at his booth, tapping her foot and looking over her shoulder.

In the minutes since she had left the table, Gabe hadn’t pursued her. Despite the fact that she had fueled this drama, she was hurt.

She breathed in the humid summer air and exhaled slowly, trying to keep her composure.

For once, she wished she were sweaty enough to mask the moisture on her face. The last thing she wanted to admit was that once again, she had allowed him to make her cry.





©Stacy Hawkins Adams, The Someday List: A Novel, Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2009. Used by permission

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy Birthday MOTDU!


Can you believe I've been blogging now for 2 years?! It's a bit surreal, but I've checked the blogging calendar and it's true..today is "Misadventures of the Dynamic Uno's "(MOTDU's) second birthday! Go have a piece of cake for me--I don't want to have to walk for an hour to work it off! Happy blogging and thanks for reading!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wild Card Tour: We're In This Boat Together by Dr. Camille Bishop

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:


We’re in This Boat Together

Authentic (August 14, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


In her thirty-year teaching career, Dr. Camille Bishop’s love for students and her penchant for adventure have taken her to classrooms all over the world. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a degree in math, Dr. Bishop began her career in the trenches as a secondary mathematics instructor in the North Carolina public school system. This first taste of teaching convinced her that she had found her calling, so she enrolled in graduate school, earning a master’s degree in education at North Carolina State University. Since 1988, she has been on the faculty of the University of the Nations, a non-profit educational institution with a global network of locations.

Through her work with the University of the Nations, Dr. Bishop has visited sixty nations of the world, interacting with educators, government officials, and other non-profit agencies. While leading an educational development project in Albania, Dr. Bishop sensed the need for more training. She returned to the U.S. and received her Ph.D. in education from Trinity International University, where she wrote her doctoral dissertation on leadership transition between the generations. This research became the focus of her unique new book, We’re in This Boat Together.


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Authentic (August 14, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934068373
ISBN-13: 978-1934068373

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Preface


Raging, white-foamed water surrounded our black rubber craft. The raft seemed like a bathtub toy compared to the expanse of the river. The noise was deafening. My stomach lurched as we sank into another unexpected drop. Menacing boulders poked up through the water. Why had I selected Class IV and Class V rapids for my first white-water experience?


My first white-water rafting expedition was with a group on the New River in West Virginia, with rapids that have special names attached to them. Paddling the tranquil water before the first rapid, I found it hard to believe that we would hit rough waters. But the rafting guide’s instructions kept pounding in my head: “Don’t lose your cookies.” She had informed us that we should navigate that rapid before lunch! I was nervous. Suddenly the raft several hundred feet ahead of me disappeared. It simply dropped out of sight. All my senses came to attention.


Fear seized me. My stomach churned. I clutched the oar tightly, preparing myself for the precipitous drop just ahead of me. There was no turning back. We had miles to go and numerous rapids to ford before the adventure would end. I wondered if I would survive. Hours later, exhausted from all the adrenalin that had pumped through my body, we arrived at the end of our journey. I had lived to tell the tale. And I even had a photo to prove it!


Similar thoughts, feelings, and reactions emerge when people are faced with transition in an organization, especially when the change involves leadership. And let’s face it—in the life of an organization the time to transfer leadership will come if the group hopes to continue. The first question becomes What will the transition look like? Is it possible to prepare for transition in ways that allow for tranquil waters or at least smaller rapids? Does transition have to be tumultuous, wrenching, and as terrifying as Class IV and Class V rapids? How can we pull together to make leadership succession work between generations?


In today’s workforce no one is exempt from the fact that four generations are currently represented. From the worlds of business and education to nonprofit organizations and churches, a similar scenario exists. One might find in the same company a seventy-year-old working alongside a twenty-two year- old. Down the hall, a Gen Xer might be consulting with a Baby Boomer. What are the defining qualities of each of these generations? Many questions come to the surface:


• Are there generational differences in work ethic—and if so, what are they?

• How does each generation relate and respond to authority figures?

• How does each generation perceive women in leadership?

• What are their expectations in the workplace?

• How do they balance the demands of work and home?

• What are their views about money and fiscal responsibility?

• How does each generation view the role of leadership in an organization?


These questions reflect the need to better understand the values and behaviors of each of these four generations. Research indicates that our perception of leadership is linked to the particular generation in which we grew up. Without that knowledge, transitions in leadership can be very messy. Insight and appreciation of generational differences can prepare a workplace for a much smoother changeover.


The Silent Generation consists of those born between 1925 and 1942. They are the children born during the Great Depression and the generation sandwiched between the first and second world wars. Boomers followed the Silent Generation (1943–1960) and were raised in an era of opportunity, progress, and optimism. They also experienced a radically changing society marked by rebellion, shifting social norms, and outward challenges of authority. Growing up in the shadow of the Boomers, Gen Xers were born between 1961 and 1981. They are technologically savvy and were raised in the age of dual-career families. Finally, Millennials, some of the newest members of the workforce, were born between 1982 and twenty years thereafter. A “plugged-in” generation, they have been around technology since birth. The Internet world of blogs, wikis, podcasts, and ever-present e-mail is as natural to them as breathing.


Each of these distinct groups of people see life differently because of the times in which they grew up. Just consider the differences that might exist in financial matters between those who grew up during the Great Depression and those who were raised in the “instant credit, no-payment-until-next year” society.

Might there be a clash between Henry, a member of the Silent Generation who sees leadership as the general who goes to the helm, and Jason, an Xer who is distrustful of leaders and prefers collaboration? You can almost feel the white water forming.


How can we navigate the rapids of transition? The answer to that question is the reason for this book. So grab your oar, don’t forget your life jacket, and push off into the white water. It is going to be quite a ride!



Prologue

Meet the Rafting Team


Rumbling down the dirt path to the launch site, the aging yellow bus that once served public schools came to a creaking halt. Daniella, the guide, stood stoically on the riverbank to meet the latest group, their company having paid good money for a white-water adventure. Medium height, bronzed from the sun, and rippling muscles, she has encountered all types. Nothing would surprise her.


The bus door opened. Only four brave souls stepped off—a small band of rafters today. They are a departmental task force from Handover Corp., (* Handover Corp. and all of its “employees” are fictitious.) a medium-sized company that was founded in the 1950s in the local area. The company rep told her this was a team-building exercise. Daniella, a Swiss-German, sized them up.


Nate, a tall and lean young man in his early twenties, appears to be in his own world. His black special-edition iPod matches his long dark shorts and is blaring tunes into his ears. A plain white tank shirt exposes a solid tan and well-etched muscles. A simple, black, lattice-looking tattoo circles his right bicep. His head is shaved. Nate hung out at Starbucks last night, researching this rafting expedition. The GPS software on his laptop allowed him a virtual tour of the river, with close-ups of each rapid. He Skyped a buddy of his in the Ukraine who had gone white-water rafting a few months ago, and then he eased into a chatroom to get some more input. He can hardly wait to blog the experience. Hired fresh out of college with a degree in computer security, Nate has been with Handover only a year. He blocks the hackers.

Nate has no idea how long he will be with Handover. Maybe he will start his own business in a few years.


Brianna, a blond who just turned thirty-two, looks distracted. She barely made it to the bus on time after dropping off her only child, Abby, at preschool. Her husband, Kyle, owns his own business, and they both work hard, juggling the demands of home and work. At least they share the load equally and have some flextime in their schedules. Handover even allows her to work from home one day a week. She designs webpages and has been with the company for five years. Brianna is short and a little thick in the hips. Too much fast food. But her turquoise-blue tank suit with matching sarong covers most of the overindulgence.

She IM’ed a bunch of friends the day before to talk about this trip and was feeling better about it. A team-building experience would look good on her resume. Who knows how long she will be at Handover? Opportunities abound, and experienced webpage designers are in demand.


Brad is in his late forties and wonders if he can actually do this. Although stocky and athletic, he has suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome and a frozen shoulder in the past year. Besides that, his desk is piled with a backlog of work. He really doesn’t have time for this. He sincerely hopes that extra compensation is coming his way for his participation and that he will survive it unscathed. Brad designs software and works extra hours, trying hard to please. Handover is going through some transitions, and he wants to avoid any downsizing. He has twenty years with the firm; but software design could be outsourced. He would like to retire early, at age fifty-five, with a solid pension and then explore other options—like the local golf course. He is expecting a sizeable inheritance. At least he looks good in his Eddie Bauer rafting outfit and Ray-Ban sunglasses. A Nike baseball cap covers his head.


George, though the oldest member, is spunky. At sixtyeight his wrinkled face reflects his years, but he stands tall and confident. He could stand to lose a few pounds, but they are mostly concentrated in his paunch. A pork-pie hat sits squarely on his balding head. A navy blue T-shirt hangs loosely over his torso, with the white Handover Corp. logo squarely over his chest. He has worked at Handover his entire career and is proud to be part of the organization. He maintains the computer hardware. George wants to keep working as long as he can. Handover hadn’t focused much on team building in the past. But times—they are a-changin’. He can adapt. He is a survivor.


“Good morning,” Daniella said rather flatly to the foursome. How many times have I given this spiel? “Welcome to the Black River Rafting Expedition. Everyone needs a life jacket, oar, and helmet. Please suit up.”


As she observed the foursome rummaging through the bin of life jackets and helmets, a question jogged through her mind: How do these four folks work together in the same department?


A totally different question ran through the minds of the Handover group: Can this tough lady get us safely down the river?


“Where do you want us to sit in the raft?” asked George, his comment dragging her back to the present. “I’d like to sit in the front, if you don’t mind,” he said.


Brad rolled his eyes and shot a quick glance at Brianna, who mouthed, “What’s new?” Nate was just unplugging his iPod.


Daniella rasped, “Just get in. We’ll sort it out in a few minutes. I’ve got the rudder position.”


As the raft slid into the river, George was perched in the front, Brad was on the right side, Brianna was on the left side, and Nate was in the back with Daniella. The inky water was like glass, smooth and tranquil.


“Okay, let’s review a few things,” said Daniella. “First, I’m guiding this raft. If you don’t listen to me, you could put all of us at risk. Until it gets rough, you are free to sit on the sides of the raft. But when I say to get down and sit low, do it. At some places in the rapids we’ll have to pull strongly to one side or the other. And sometimes the roar of the water will be deafening. You’ll have to strain to hear me. Everyone needs to repeat my instructions out loud so we are all on the same page. Questions, anyone?”


“Got it,” replied George. Just follow the directions.


“Sounds logical to me,” said Brad. Let’s get this show on the road; I’ve got work to do. Sure hope my shoulder doesn’t flare up again.


“I’m with the team,” responded Brianna, her voice a little shaky. This could be riskier than I thought. I have Abby to think about.


“Yo, I’m in,” chimed Nate. This looked awesome on the GPS.


“All right, let’s practice a few maneuvers,” commanded Daniella. “Nate, take a position behind Brianna. And George, move back in front of Brad.”


“Okay, we’ve got two on the right and two on the left. When I say ‘Paddle left,’ George and Brad stop paddling; and Brianna and Nate, you guys paddle like your lives depended on it. Reverse it for ‘Paddle right.’”


“Paddle right,” shouted Daniella. “And remember to repeat the command.”


“Paddle right,” Nate, Brad, Brianna, and George said in unison. It was a little anemic.


“Shout it loud!” yelled Daniella from the back of the raft.


“PADDLE RIGHT!” screamed the foursome. George and Brad paddled furiously, moving the rubber raft significantly to the right.


“Low in the boat,” commanded Daniella.


“Low in the boat!” came the reply, and all four of them slid off the sides and sat down.


“Okay, one last maneuver,” said Daniella. “All of you need to be able to get back in the boat if you go overboard. Brianna, let’s start with you. Slide out, and I’ll show you how to get back in.”

Before she could protest, Daniella gave Brianna a little nudge, and over she went with a splash.


“Dang, it’s cold!” Brianna exclaimed, trying to catch her breath from the shock of the chill. Grabbing the side of the raft, she tried to pull herself up; but her legs slid under the boat, and she looked helpless.


Daniella chuckled. “Okay, good try. Grab onto the raft, and put one leg over. The rest of us will help you roll back inside.”


Brianna placed her short, hefty leg on the side of the raft; and, sure enough, it worked—Brad and Nate pulled her in.


George, Brad, and Nate all took turns getting into the water and maneuvering back into the boat. Nate was the only one with enough upper body strength to pull himself in without assistance.


“One final thing,” said Daniella. She reached beneath her life jacket, unsnapped a sheath, and pulled out a menacing six inch hunting knife. “If someone goes overboard and gets trapped under the raft, I have to act quickly. I’ll slash the raft and try to pull the person up. I hope that doesn’t happen, but I’ve had to do it before. Questions, anyone?”


Brianna’s face was ashen. All of this for a team-building exercise?


“All right, let’s go!”


Daniella dug her oar strongly in the water and pushed out to the center of the river. What a motley crew. Oh well, we’re in this boat together. Time to experience the real thing.


Not too far ahead lay the first rapid, “Big Mama,” a steep drop and blazing ride through white water, shifting currents, and a challenging obstacle. The team would soon be tested.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday


Photo Tag

Faye from Dutch Gramma has tagged me with a photo tag. (She's feeling under the weather, so make sure you stop by and wish her well.)


First, the rules are simple. As follows: 6th Picture Meme!

1. Go to your Picture Folder on your computer or wherever you store your pictures.


2. Go to the 6th Folder, then pick the 6th picture in that folder.


3. Post that picture on your blog and the story that goes along with the picture.


4. Tag 6 other peoples that you know or don’t know to do the same thing and leave a comment on their blog or an e-mail letting them know you chose them.


Here's my picture:

My mom is actually the one that took this picture since I had to work the evening my sister decided to celebrate my niece's 8th birthday last year. They had the standard cake and ice cream, while singing "Happy Birthday," and then my niece started opening her presents. Before we go any further, I must let you know that my mom has a necklace that she calls her "grandma necklace" because she has two little girl charms with birthstone dresses for each one of my nieces. She decide to buy a little girl charm for niece because she loves her charm on my mom's necklace. This is the picture my mom took after, my niece opened her present.

Tag, you're it:

Amanda at A Patchwork of Books

Wendy at Musings of a Bookish Kitty

May at Confessions of a Chocoholic

DeeDee at This and That

Trish at Trish's Dishes

Pais Charos at The Heart of Pais Charos

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thank you, Mr. President!


Thank you, Mr.President for your service to our country! It's been along, hard road for much your term but that didn't stop you from serving us well. You looked terror directly in the eye and didn't shy away when terrorists sought to bring our nation to its knees. Thank you, Mr. President, for keeping us safe from harm and doing what you thought was right for our country. I may not have always agreed with your choices, but of course, I'm not privy to the amount of information that you have in the White House. Thank you, Mr. President, for showing a country the human side of the Presidency. For showing that you have feelings, and for most importantly reminding us about the power of prayer! I wonder if the next guy will have as much courage and class? Thank you, Mr. President!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm back...

My computer screen decided to go crazy the other day and I've been spending the last couple of days trying to figure out the problem. It was a loose wire--go figure. The good news is that I only had 85 emails to read after 3 days--not too bad considering I'm in the middle of several projects right now.

After reading the Never Say Diet book by Chantel Hobbs, my mom and I have been walking a bit each evening the last couple of days. We don't live in the best of neighborhoods, but so far we haven't had any problems--unless you count the cold. (Who sent 30 degree weather down here?) I hope to lose around 50 pounds this year, so I know I'm going to have to step it up a bit to stay on track. (Yes, someone took a picture of me and I didn't even recognize myself in the picture--THAT was SCARY!!! So it's time to get off my butt and start doing something for me.)

When I was in high school I used to run a couple of miles every day after school--unfortunately, that was over 15 years ago, so running is almost a pipe dream. However, I will say that yesterday, when I went for my walk, I did manage to run about 150 yards total. (Yes, I'm THAT out of shape.) I know that 150 yards doesn't seem much--especially when I was running 2 and 3 miles at a stretch each day, but I figure it's a start--for now. (My mom didn't walk with me yesterday.)

Speaking of Mom--She says that I set a grueling pace. What she doesn't realize is that my pace is my normal walking pace because as a child I used to have to almost run to keep up with her long legs, so it's now a habit to walk briskly. I just laugh and tell her to step it up or she's going to be eating my dust. I know she's been trying to talk my dad into walking with us, but he refuses. I wonder if he doesn't think he can keep up? (Yep--that's a challenge mister!)

Now, if only I could have someone cook for me so that I don't eat icky foods. (Not that I think chocolate is icky, but a pound of M&M's isn't exactly the healthiest diet for me.) I would love to eat healthier, but I don't have a clue how to cook--nor do I know how to cook the interesting vegetables that I've found in the produce section--so my eating habits will probably fall to bland and boring until I figure out this new healthier lifestyle.

Mom just got home. I need to change so we can head out. Have a great evening!

WILD Card: Never Say Diet and Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Trainer by Chantel Hobbs

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 books:


Never Say Diet

WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (December 16, 2008)

and


The Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Trainer

WaterBrook Press (December 16, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Chantel Hobbs is a personal trainer, certified spinning instructor, and motivational speaker whose no-excuses approach to fitness has won her a grateful following across the country. The author of Never Say Diet, Chantel hosts a weekly fitness program on Reach FM radio and is a regular guest on Way FM. Her “Ditch the Diet, Do the Weekend” bootcamp takes place several times a year in a variety of locations. She has presented her unique approach to lasting fitness in People magazine and on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox News, The 700 Club, Living the Life, and Paula White Today. Chantel enjoys life with her husband and their four children in South Florida.

Visit the author's website.

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTERs:


Never Say Diet Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (December 16, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307444937
ISBN-13: 978-0307444936

The Night That

Changed My Life

How to Choose

to Do the Best

Job of Living

It should have been a scene of American family bliss. A Sunday afternoon in our home on a beautiful fall day in South Florida. My husband, Keith, was watching the Dolphins game in the living room with some friends. He’d waited all week for this. Our girls, six-year-old Ashley and four-year-old Kayla, were helping me in the kitchen. Well, kind of. Our six month-old, Jake, was jumping and laughing in his Jolly Jumper. I was baking Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, our favorite, and everybody could smell the cinnamon and butter and couldn’t wait for the cookies to come out of the oven. Especially me. As I worked in the kitchen, I could hear the football game coming from the living room. The announcers were talking about a player who had arrived at training camp completely out of shape. He was six foot four and weighed 320 pounds. “That is a big boy,” they said. “Wow! He is huge.” “Would you look at that guy,” I heard my husband say with disgust. “I can’t believe he got so fat! What a lazy bum.” Those words cut me to the heart. I had created a happy home, with a

happy husband and happy kids. But at that moment I wanted to die, because I outweighed that player by at least 10 pounds. I was bigger than anyone playing for the Miami Dolphins. And I knew I was anything but lazy. I pulled the cookies out of the oven and felt nauseous. I was pathetic. I’d been overweight my entire adult life, but I was bigger than I had ever been. I was miserable but doing an excellent job of faking out everyone who knew me. I was five foot nine and weighed 330 pounds, maybe more. I didn’t know for sure because it had been months since I’d dared to step on a scale. Besides, the only one in the house was a conveniently inaccurate discount-store model with a wheel underneath that calibrated the scale. I had adjusted it to register the lowest weight possible. I was in denial, but I was also without hope. It was the autumn of 2000. I was twenty-eight years old and was starting to believe I would never live a long and fulfilled life. Not this way. If an angel had landed on my shoulder and whispered in my ear that, in less than two years, Oprah Winfrey would have me on her show to tell a feel good weight-loss story, I’d have sent that angel packing and gone back to my cookies. I wasn’t Oprah material. And there was absolutely nothing feel-good about my life. Call me when you want a feel-bad story. That was me. If that angel had whispered that I would one day run a marathon, I’d have checked him in to an insane asylum. I couldn’t run around the block. Even in high school I hadn’t been able to run the required twenty-minute mile. My knees hurt all the time. I was morbidly obese—a term that I knew meant an early death. If one thing was clear about my life in the fall of 2000, it was that

I could never, ever run a marathon. But I did. I finished my first one in 2005 and after that ran four more— in less than a year. I went from weighing nearly 350 pounds to less than 150 pounds. And I have appeared on Oprah and Good Morning America and the cover of People magazine as one of America’s great weight-loss successes. Getting fit wasn’t easy—there was plenty of pain, deprivation, tears, and hungeralong the way. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I won’t try to sugarcoat any of that. But, honestly, I didn’t give myself a choice. Once I made the unconditional decision that I was going to lose weight and get healthy, nothing could stop me. And nothing will stop you if you make the Five Decisions to break the fat habit for good. That’s a guarantee. Here is the secret I learned—the same secret I want to share with you. I realized I had to change my mind before I could change my body, my health, and my life. I discovered the Five Decisions, which brought about an unconditional commitment to getting healthy and fit. Once I started, I treated it like a job so that no matter what else was going on in my life, I did what I had to do to achieve daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, and eventually the target weight and fitness that I desired. After making the Five Decisions, getting fit was a matter of showing up for work each day. The process developed from the inside out, which was a new concept for me.


FIRST, YOU CHANGE YOUR MIND

People constantly ask me how I lost 200 pounds and started running marathons. When I explain that it took several years to achieve those goals, they wonder how I was able to stick to the plan when so many others can’t. I ask myself the same question. I had failed plenty of times before. I’d tried a few diets and failed, including a bit of foolishness called the chocolate-wafer diet, which I’ll tell you about later. I’d resolved so many times not to eat the entire package of Oreos, without success. So how did I lose all that weight and keep it off reclaiming my health and gaining a new life in the process? Here’s the simple answer: my brain changed. I decided to first become a different person in my mind and then learned patience as my body followed. My success wasn’t measured only by a declining number on a scale; it was much deeper. I had to change on the inside. I needed to change my mind before I could change my body. It will work the same way for you. First you must get to the right place in your head, and then you can create the lifestyle to go along with that. Your body reflects your daily choices, so stop confusing it by the way you think. The mistake so many people make is to focus on weight loss and how long it will take. In fact, the multibillion-dollar diet industry banks on people thinking this way. Don’t get stuck in the weight loss weight gain cycle. What you should focus on is the person you want to be. Set your sights very high, and keep your commitment level even higher. In this book I’ll explain how I did that. I went from being someone who weighed more than a Miami Dolphins lineman to someone who is strong and trim and can run twenty-six miles. I went from a state of hopelessness to a life of incredible confidence. And I want to help you achieve something great in your life. If you change your mind before attempting to change your body, you can do this.


HITTING ROCK BOTTOM

While I was learning how to lose weight and regain my health, I faced setback after setback. My husband lost his job, and my mother was diagnosed with cancer—and those were only two of the crises that came along. Changing your life will never be easy, and that’s why in order to succeed, you first need to be ready to succeed. It’s a choice you make. In the fall of 2000, when I was baking cookies and overhearing my husband’s criticism of an overweight NFL lineman, I fell into despair. I realized my life was out of control and I was headed for an early grave if I didn’t change. But even then, I wasn’t yet ready to make the commitment that was necessary to change my life. The truth is, on that dark day I still wasn’t miserable enough to change. I hit rock bottom about six months later. I was at my heaviest ever—349 pounds, I think. Though I was still mostly in denial, I was starting to see myself clearly, and I hated what I saw. I’d look in the mirror and say, “You are pitiful! How could you have let this happen?” My appearance started to affect my family life. We live in South Florida, where every weekend is a pool party. My daughters were young, but they were being invited to a few parties, and I was horribly uncomfortable in a bathing suit. I knew it wouldn’t be long before my girls would be embarrassed by their mother, and that made me want to cry. It did make me cry. But that was the least of it. I was more worried that their mom would die young. I’d seen fat people, and I’d seen old people, but rarely had I seen fat, old people. If I couldn’t change for myself, maybe I could do it for my kids. One night I was driving home alone from an event at church. I felt trapped in despair. At age twenty-nine, my body felt old. I had recently had an emergency gallbladder operation, and the doctor had told me he was afraid to cut through all my layers of fat because of the risk of infection. Imagine being worried about your diseased gallbladder and experiencing anxiety about surgery. And then you learn that your weight problem makes you more prone to infection. That night in the car I felt like the most pathetic person who had ever lived. I believed that God had made me and put me on earth for a purpose, and I was not living the life He intended for me. I knew I had to change. As I drove, drowning in self-pity, I began to envision what my life would be if I weren’t fat. I thought of all the things I could do—even simple things, such as walking down an airplane aisle without having to turn sideways. I’d be able to board a flight without getting fearful stares from people hoping I wouldn’t sit next to them. And there were deeper things, such as being able to go down a slide at a playground with my kids. And I wanted never again to feel as if I was embarrassing my husband when he introduced me to business associates. I was tired of feeling prejudged by every server in every restaurant for what I ordered. I wanted to be able to shop in the same clothing stores as all my friends. I wanted a normal life. As I drove home from church, I came to the realization that I absolutely could not go on with my life as it was. I pulled over, sobbing. In total despair I cried out to God. I remember every word. “This is it!” I said. “I can’t live like this anymore. I’m done. I give all this pain to You. I surrender this battle. I need You to take over and give me a plan. Otherwise, I don’t want to live anymore.” Almost immediately a sense of inner peace filled me, and I calmed down. I had gone to church all my life and had a relationship with God, but I had certainly never felt anything like that before. The peace was real, and in my mind I heard from God. I clearly heard these words: You are not being the best you can be. It wasn’t a booming voice like in a movie, but it also wasn’t a voice coming from me. The words were a jolt to my soul. And that moment would change my life forever. Again, with crystal clarity, I “heard” a whisper: You are not being the best you can be. And for the first time in my life, I understood that this was a choice. I could choose to be the best I could be or not. We all have the same choice. We can’t choose our natural talents or what opportunities life is going to throw our way, but we can choose to do this one thing: we can do the best job of living that we are capable of. After praying alone in my car, I knew I could do better.


THE CHOICE IS YOURS

No matter how overweight and out of shape we are, our bodies and minds are capable of much more than we think. No matter what battles we face in life, we can have victory. The amazing thing is that so many of us choose not to. I know this is true because I was as guilty as anyone. For years I’d made poor choices and come up with excuses for why I really didn’t have a choice at all. I was big boned. I let myself overeat because I was pregnant. I skipped exercise because I didn’t have the time. I was too far gone to ever recover. I told myself whatever it took to hide the truth that I was not doing the best job of living. I was also being scammed by the diet industry. We all have been taken in by the hype. “We’ll give you your eating points,” the industry tells us, “and let you spend them on any food you want. And we’ll love you when you get on that scale, whether you’ve lost weight or not. We’ll keep hugging you for the next twenty-three years if need be.” Counting my points was not going to save me. Choosing the right frozen entrée and having it delivered to my home for the next two years was not going to save me. I didn’t need the unconditional love of strangers; I needed unconditional commitment from myself. I was also scammed by the “fat gene” scientists who insisted that my weight problem was out of my hands. They were wrong; it was in my hands. Chantel, I told myself, this is not cancer. I knew, because my mother had leukemia, and I had spent more tearful nights than I could count praying for her recovery something I couldn’t do anything about. I prayed that chemotherapy would work and that God would heal her. But I realized that I’d been thinking of my obesity in the same way, as an illness. I’d even been told by experts that drastic surgery might be my only option. But that was another lie. The way I lived my life and how I contributed to my health were completely in my hands. Every one of us knows what we should do, but we don’t always do it. Instead, we pretend it’s out of our control. We take the easy way out and let ourselves down. Gaining weight doesn’t come about by accident, and it’s not forced on us. We gain weight through a series of poor choices made on a regular basis over a long period of time.


We gain weight

through a series of poor choices

made on a regular basis

over a long period of time.


The same process holds true for achieving a goal related to your health and fitness. Whether it’s weight loss, athletic accomplishment, or any other personal or business goal, you achieve what you seek by learning to make the right choices and not being scared of self-sacrifice. I began wondering what my life would be like and what I would be capable of if I simply started being the best me I could. It was time to find out. After hearing God tell me, You are not being the best you can be, I made my decision, and I said it out loud: “I can do this. I will do this.” I repeated it, and I meant it. At that moment by the side of Cypress Creek Road, my life turned around.


DO IT, THEN TALK

Having made the commitment, I knew I was going to change my life, but I didn’t have a specific plan. I knew I’d have to start exercising, no matter how much I dreaded it. I knew I would have to change the way I ate, and I would need to learn more about nutrition. And to become a different person, I knew I would have to start thinking like the person I wanted to be and not the person I had allowed myself to become. I didn’t know how I was going to do all this, but I knew I would have God by my side. He might not make it easy, but He’d give me the strength to do everything that was needed. When I got home that night, Keith was already in bed. He had never criticized my weight, for which I was incredibly grateful, but I knew how he must have felt. I looked into my husband’s eyes, told him that God had spoken to me in the car, and announced that the next morning I would begin losing weight and getting healthy. (I even mentioned that one day I would write a book to reach others in my situation.) I made it clear that I was totally committed to being the best I could be. Keith smiled at me and quoted one of his favorite sources of inspiration, the self-made billionaire Art Williams: “Do it, then talk.” He was right. I shut up. Keith fell asleep, but I had a burning passion that kept me awake that night and has kept me up many nights since. Making the unconditional decision to change—the complete commitment with no turning back—had to be followed by action. First you change your mind. But to change your body and your life, you have to get moving. You have to do things and do them differently from the past. Do it. How incredibly simple—yet how long it had taken me to get to a place where I could see that clearly. Getting fit and accomplishing my dreams was simply a matter of choosing to do it, following through every single day, and understanding that failure was not an option. I could do it. I would do it. And I did.


w

Keep reading, and you’ll find out how to change your life through five crucial decisions. The Five Decisions change your brain, giving you a new way of thinking about yourself, your life, your health, and your future. As long as you keep thinking the same way you always have, you will keep doing the things you have always done—including the unhealthy habits you have developed. Join me in the next chapter as we explore the past—including all the influences that worked together to bring us to where we are today. Understanding the messages that influence our self-perception and the way we respond to obstacles enables us to make the new decisions that are necessary for permanent change.



What Do You Want to Change, and Why?

As you prepare to make the mental changes that will lead to permanent life change, think through the reasons you want to change. What is motivating your desire to lose weight and reclaim your health? Use the questions that follow to think in detail about your life, your goals for the future, and what you’re willing to do to make this happen finally and forever.


1. Beyond losing weight, what do you most want to change about your life?


2. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to see certain areas of your life undergo radical change? If you’re not yet willing, what is holding you back?


3. When in your life have you felt the most hopeless? Are you now ready to move past those scars and never look back?


4. When you gained weight in the past, what factors caused you to lose your focus on health?


5. Identify three reasons or influences from the past that convinced you that you couldn’t achieve permanent life change. After considering these reasons, can you now admit they were merely excuses?


6. Think about the necessity of changing your mind before you attempt to change your body. Do you agree that lasting change begins on the inside? As you consider being the best you can be, are you ready to work from the inside out?


7. A total life change involves your mind, body, and spirit. Think about the spiritual aspect for a moment. Do you accept the role that faith plays in the process of changing your life for good?


8. When have you been held back by a fear of failure? Write down your biggest fears in this regard. As you face your fears, can you decide to let them go and give your all to permanent life change?


Never Say Diet Personal Trainer Product Details:

List Price: $10.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (December 16, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307446425
ISBN-13: 978-0307446428

Week 1 Training Plan

The Perfect Body Type: Yours!

You Are Lovely Today


Scripture for the week: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.… When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.”

—PSALM 139:14–16


Quote for the week: “Faith, as Paul saw it, was a living, flaming thing leading to surrender and obedience to the commandments of Christ.”

—A. W. TOZER


As you begin the journey to never say diet, remember that your value is based on who you are in Christ, not what the number on the scale says. God created everything about you, and He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows which foods are your weaknesses, and He is there whenever the temptation to overeat or consume unhealthy food seems overwhelming. The Lord knows the tears you have shed out of desperation. He was there to comfort you when it seemed like no one understood your pain. Trust me, on days when I feel the most flawed, I need the verses from Psalm 139 to remind me of what is true. The living God formed every part of my body, even the parts I would like to change. Although I used to struggle and fail in caring for my body, God always knew it best. When I finally cried out to my Creator and invited Him to help with the repair, I knew I could succeed. He wants you to succeed too. Start this week by thanking the Lord for the gifts of your life and your body. By focusing on making some improvements, you will ultimately be honoring Him more and more each day. Find a recent photo of yourself, or take one, and tape it in the space that follows. This picture will be a powerful reference for you in the coming weeks as you begin your transformation.


THE MIND FACTOR: CHANGE YOUR BRAIN

In Never Say Diet, I make a big deal about the Five Decisions—and for good reason. You will fail in this new attempt to change your life unless you first change your brain. To succeed, you need to be willing to do whatever it takes—unconditionally. I want to be your cheerleader and your friend. And for us to get going, you need to commit to the five Brain Change decisions found on pages 76–82 of Never Say Diet. Think about how each of the Five Decisions applies to your life. Also, try to memorize them. They will form the backbone you need to stand up to and overcome every area of weakness in your life. Create your personal surrender statement.


THE EXERCISE EQUATION: ARE YOU WILLING?

This week your first assignment is to start building a foundation of discipline. You will be successful over the next month if you show up for exercise thirty minutes a day, five days in a row, every week—no matter what. There are many choices for your cardiovascular exercise. Below is a list of suggestions. Even if your week gets hectic, finding the time to make this happen is imperative.


Cardio Exercise Suggestions

Basketball

Bike riding

Cross-country skiing machine

Dancing

Elliptical machine

Jogging/running

Kick boxing

Racquetball

Spinning class

Stair climber

Stair stepper

Stationary bike/recumbent bike

Step aerobics

Swimming

Tennis

Walking


How to Take Your Measurements

Taking your measurements at the beginning of each month is an important part of the process of losing weight. You will begin to see precisely where you are losing fat. As you start building more muscle, there will be months where your progress is more evident in your measurements than on the scale, because muscle is denser than fat. You will begin by taking six measurements. You should be able to do them by yourself, with the exception of your upper arm. (Ask a friend or your spouse to help you.) For instructions on taking accurate measurements, see pages 97–98 of Never Say Diet. Record your measurements below.


Bust: ______________

Chest: ______________

Waist: ______________

Hips: ______________

Thighs: ______________

Arms: ______________


Be sure that you consistently measure in the same spots each month. I also recommend taking your measurements before your workouts.


Weigh Yourself

Weigh yourself, and record your weight at the beginning of each week.

Week 1 starting weight: ________


WEEK 1 CARDIO TRAINING

Complete your cardio exercise five days in a row, for at least thirty minutes per day. In the space provided, write down the day, the date, the exercise you completed, and the duration of each exercise period. This serves as a reminder that you always found a way to get the exercise done, whether you felt like it or not.


Day 1 date/exercise/duration:

________________________________________________


How did it go?

________________________________________________



Day 2 date/exercise/duration:

________________________________________________


How did it go?

________________________________________________



Day 3 date/exercise/duration:

________________________________________________


How did it go?

________________________________________________



Day 4 date/exercise/duration:

________________________________________________


How did it go?

________________________________________________



Day 5 date/exercise/duration:

________________________________________________


How did it go?

________________________________________________


THE FOOD FACTOR: BREAKFAST IS

WHERE IT’S AT

This week you must place your nutritional focus on the most important meal of the day: breakfast. Plan to eat every day within two hours of waking up. Listed below are some fresh food ideas. Each one is about three hundred calories, which is perfect!


• Quaker Weight Control oatmeal, 1 tablespoon of raisins, cinnamon to taste, 2 slices of turkey bacon.


• One slice of whole-wheat toast, light spread of peanut butter (natural is best), and ½ grapefruit.


• Chocolate strawberry shake. Blend the following: 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 10 small frozen strawberries, 1 packet sugar substitute, ½ cup low-fat milk, a few ice cubes.


• Egg white omelet. In a skillet with nonstick spray, cook veggies you like, 3 lightly beaten egg whites, and 1 tablespoon fat-free cheese. Accompany with half an English muffin with a dab of peanut butter.


Each of these breakfast meals provides a good balance of protein, carbs, and fat. This ensures your day gets off to a good start; it is igniting your source of energy. Find a few meals that you enjoy, and keep repeating them. This way you won’t stress out over deciding what to have.


Week 1 Breakfast Log

Using the space provided, record each day’s breakfast menu and the portions.


Day 1 date/time: ___________________________________ ________________________________________________


Day 2 date/time: ___________________________________

________________________________________________


Day 3 date/time: ___________________________________

________________________________________________


Day 4 date/time: ___________________________________

________________________________________________


Day 5 date/time: ___________________________________

________________________________________________


Day 6 date/time: ___________________________________

________________________________________________


Day 7 date/time: ___________________________________

________________________________________________



Dynamic Uno here: When this title first came across my email, I knew that I needed to sign up for it. After all, if someone who weighed 300 pounds could lose their weight for good, then I know that I can lose my extra baggage too.

Chantel Hobbs, the author, even comes right out and says that this is not a diet, it's a lifestyle change, and if you're not interested in changing then you need to put the book down. (Ok, so I paraphrased it a bit, but this truly is a commitment.) On page 13 of her book, she says, "Changing your life will never be easy, and that's why in order to succeed, you first need to be ready to succeed. It's a choice you make."

Later on, on page 17, she says..."Getting fit and accomplishing my dreams was simply a matter of choosing to do it, following through every single day, and understanding that failure was not an option."

Yep. That's exactly the approach I need to take. It's a choice I'm making and for my somewhat perfectionist side--failure is NOT an option!

Chantel's obsession with food sounds a lot like mine. I LOVE food--especially sweets. I feel happy when I'm on a sugar high and when it's gone, the happiness is gone too. Reading about her childhood brought back many of my own memories that involved me and food. It makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only one that tends to plan my day around what I want to eat (gorge on). Truly--I eat my way through my days, and this is going to stop!

Reading both the Never Say Diet and the Personal Fitness Trainer books together has been really eye opening. Of course, keeping track of my goals will take longer than the few weeks I've had the books, but I plan on making this work. I will succeed. If you want to change your life too--pick up Chantel's books and we can hold ourselves accountable together. Let me know what you think!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wild Card: The Bishop's Daughter by Tiffany L. Warren

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:


The Bishop's Daughter

Grand Central Publishing (January 9, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Tiffany L. Warren is a technology manager who lives in suburban Cleveland, Ohio with her husband and four children. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Farther Than I Meant to Go, Longer Than I Meant to Stay.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (January 9, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446195146
ISBN-13: 978-0446195140

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Darrin

I'm snatched from my sleep by voices.

They're coming from the living room. The first voice is Shayna, my lover, although she likes to be called my girlfriend. She is not my girlfriend. Haven't had one of those since high school.

The other voice is coming from the television. It's way too loud, but not unfamiliar. I concentrate for a moment until familiarity becomes recognition. The voice belongs to that preacher Shayna likes to watch every Sunday morning.

Is it Sunday already?

I start a mental rewind in an attempt to recapture my weekend. Friday was standard. Edited a short story for a girl in my writer's group. She's entering a romance writer's contest, and wanted my opinion.

I didn't give it to her, because I'm possibly interested in sleeping with her. I told her that the uninspired farce was poetic prose. She won't win the contest, but she won't blame it on me. She'll accuse the judges of being amateurs and then come cry on my shoulder. I'll have tissues on hand – right along with the strawberries and champagne.

Also had lunch with Priscilla. My mother. The obligatory "good son" lunch that keeps me on the family payroll. I call her Priscilla behind her back, but never to her face. She's petite, cultured and polished but not above going upside a brotha's head.

We had the same conversation we have every week.

"Darrin, when are you coming to work for your father?"

"The day after never."

"You always say that."

"And I always mean it."

I love my mother, but I hate this conversation.

My father, Mathis Bainbridge, wants me to work in an office at Bainbridge Transports, shuffling papers, giving orders, and hiring overqualified people at ridiculously insulting rates of pay. He calls his company the 'family business' but only one person in our three person familia is interested in shuttling elderly people to doctor's appointments and on shopping trips.

It's not Priscilla and it's not me.

"You coming to church with me on Sunday?" Mother had also asked.

I'd let out a frustrated sigh. "I'll see."

My sporadic church attendance is Priscilla's other favorite topic.

"Don't you love Jesus?"

"Yes, Mother. I love Jesus."

That wasn't a lie. I do love Jesus. I just cannot say no to a woman who wants me to take her to bed and I have yet to hear a preacher tell me how.

Priscilla was extra irritated at our lunch date. She got borderline vulgar. "But you're willing to go to hell over some girl's dirty panties?"

I'd laughed then, and I'm still laughing. In Priscilla speak 'dirty panties' was tantamount to cursing me out.

I'd replied, "Mother, please watch your language."

Saturday was worse. I'd spent the entire muggy and rainy afternoon at a 10K marathon to benefit cancer research. Put on a fake smile and interviewed the sweaty first-place winner, asking him questions that no one wanted answers to, all the while thinking to myself, 'Why am I doing this?'

There was a time when I was excited to have comma writer after my name. You know, Darrin Bainbridge, writer. But the glamour that I'd envisioned has not yet materialized, and the less money I make with freelance journalism, the more my father threatens to chain me to a desk.

Then, when I should have been winding down for the weekend I blogged. Blogging is what narcissistic writers do when they don't have a book deal. Yeah, I'm just a bit narcissistic. Besides, people like to read what I think about social injustice, celebrities and whatever else. Ten thousand hits a day on my blogsite can't be wrong.

The thing I love about blogging is that I'm anonymous. Like, last week I wrote a piece on Jesse Jackson and how he's more of a threat to African American progress than the KKK. Then, I chilled with him at a networking function the same night. No harm, no foul.

Since I can no longer drown out the television or Shayna's 'Hallelujahs', I open my eyes and concede to starting the day. I stretch, take a deep breath, and grin at the memory of last night. Shayna's perfume lingers in the air. A fruity Victoria's Secret fragrance purchased by me for my benefit, but disguised as a spur-of-the-moment romantic and thoughtful gift. Yeah…I don't do those. But Shayna was pleased. So pleased that she stayed the night in my den of iniquity and is now watching church on television instead of getting her shout on in a pew.

I jump out of the bed in one motion, landing on the ice cold ceramic tiles. My pedicured toes curl from the drastic temperature change. Yes, a brotha likes his feet smooth. Hands too. What?

My apartment is slamming, and the furniture baller style – especially for someone with such a low income. If it wasn't for the deep pockets of my parents, blogging and freelance writing would pretty much have me living in semi-poverty. But my mother makes sure that I have the best of the best, and a monthly allowance. I keep thinking that at twenty-eight, I might be too old for a $6000 a month allowance. I'd be satisfied with less, but I'm not turning anything down. Priscilla's generosity (behind my father's back, of course) allows me to pursue my dreams, whatever they might be.

I pull on a pair of silk boxer shorts and walk up the hallway to the living room. Silently, I observe Shayna. She is rocking back and forth on the couch, her hands wrapped around her own torso. Embracing herself.

"You better preach, preacher!" she shouts at the face on the screen.

I mimic her movements and hug myself too, but not because I feel the love. It's freezing in here. Shayna likes to turn the thermostat on sixty no matter what the temperature is outside. Freon laced air rushes out of every vent.

"If you got breath in your lungs and strength in your body, you need to shout Hallelujah!" shouts the preacher.

"Hallelujah!Hallelujah!Hallelujah!Hallelujah!" Shayna's four-alarm Hallelujah sounds like one word.

I am amazed. How can Shayna feel so worshipful this morning when she just rolled out of my bed a few hours ago?

I'm curious. "Do you send this guy money? He's in Atlanta, right?"

Shayna looks up from the program and smiles seductively. Can she be any more blasphemous?

"Yes, Freedom of Life is in Atlanta and yes I do send in my tithe and offering on the regular. I'm a partner." She motions for me to come join her on the couch. I don't.

"About how many members do you think he has?" I ask as the television camera pans to what looks like the crowd at a Destiny's Child concert.

"The sanctuary holds ten thousand," she declares proudly as if it was her own accomplishment, "but there are about twenty thousand members and partners worldwide."

I'm in writer mode now. I can feel the wheels in my mind spinning. Probably something scandalous going on in a church that size. Pastor either skimming money off the top or sleeping with half the choir. Maybe blogging about a dirty Pastor will attract some sponsors. Exposing rich Black men pays well, and if he's truly grimy I won't have a problem spending the money.

Shayna asks suspiciously, "Since when did you get interested in church?"

"Since just now. I could feel the spirit oozing into the bedroom and I had to come investigate."

"I know you better than that. What's the real?"

Shayna doesn't know me at all, but she thinks she does. She assumes that we have a deep bond just because we've shared bodily fluids. There is more to me than my sex drive, but she'll never know that. She's not the wife type.

I humor her and reply, "Well, I just think that there has got to be a story here."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, this guy can't be more than forty five," I'm half-explaining, half-forming the story in my mind. "And he's got twenty thousand offering paying members? I bet he's living large."

Shayna frowns. "What's your point?"

"You don't think there's anything wrong with that?"

"Uh, no. Your daddy lives large."

I chuckle with disbelief. Didn't know she was one of those people. The ones who try to compare pastoring a church to running a business.

Just for the fun of it, I quip, "Jesus preached for free."

"He didn't have a car note," she shoots right back.

"Okay, I see this might be hitting a little close to home, but I bet if I go down there to Atlanta I can dig up a juicy story."

The thought became even more appealing as I put words to it. Atlanta is uncharted territory for me. Fresh stories, different scenery and untapped women. The more I wrap my arms around the notion, the more it turns into a need.

I need to get my butt down to Atlanta and break this story wide open. Blogging on location. Most definitely liking the sound of that.

Shayna leans over the back of the couch pointing her polished fingernail at me for emphasis. "Whatever. Bishop Kumal Prentiss is a man of God and he preaches the Word."

"Kumal Prentiss? That sounds like a hustler's name. And what do you know about the Word?"

"I grew up in church sweetie. I'm not a heathen like you."

"You're not the only one who was raised in church."

I'd had so much church growing up, that if church was food I could feed every one of those starving Ethiopian children who convince me every week to be their sponsor. If church was talent, I'd be singing like R. Kelly and dancing like Usher. If church was candy…let's just say I went to a lot of church.

Every Sunday Priscilla dragged me, unwillingly, into the huge stone building. Me always screaming, "But Daddy doesn't have to go!" Her always replying, "Daddy's going to hell." She'd give me money for my Sunday school offering and send me on my way.

I went through a phase where I enjoyed the services. I was thirteen and my first crush, Alexandra, was fifteen and fully developed. I joined the junior ushers, youth choir and youth department trying to get at that girl.

Then one Sunday morning, old Pastor Davis preached on lust and hell fire. He'd said that if we didn't repent of our lusts and get baptized, then we'd spend an eternity fighting fire. Since I had been drooling over Alexandra and her tight sweater for the entire service, I was terrified. Walked down that center aisle out of fear while Priscilla shouted, stomped and danced. Went down a dry devil, came up a wet devil.

At age sixteen, I just got tired of pretending that I could walk the narrow road. I prayed about it. Told God that I would come to church when I knew I could live right.

Priscilla wasn't having it. I think she literally had a nervous breakdown when I told her I wasn't going back to church. She cried for days; walked around praying out loud, lifting God up and putting the devil under her feet.

I didn't budge. And for the first time ever, my father defended me. He'd stopped Priscilla dead in her tracks.

He'd said, "Priscilla, you will not make my son go to church if he doesn't want to. Church is for women anyway, it's about time he found a more productive way of spending his time."

The memory brings a smile to my face, makes me want to taunt Shayna about her hypocrisy. "And since you know so much about the Word, what does it say about fornication?"

She must be done talking to me, because she turns back to Bishop Prentiss who has worked his congregation into a frenzy. Had to give it to him. The man had skills.

"You want something to eat?" I ask Shayna, ignoring her attitude.

Her face softens. "You know I do."

In minutes I've prepared a small breakfast feast. French toast on fresh French bread and garnished with powdered sugar, strawberries and carmelized bananas and a three cheese omelet, browned to perfection.

I can cook my butt off.

I arrange everything on the china my mother bought me for a housewarming gift. For me, it's not just the taste of the food, it's the look of it. Presentation is everything. I can make a grill cheesed sandwich look like a gourmet entrée.

Shayna's smile returns as she approaches the table. She tosses her red curls out of her honey colored face as she sashays barefoot over to the table. She looks as delicious as the breakfast wearing her baby t-shirt and boy shorts. I feel a hunger starting inside me that has nothing to do with breakfast food.

Shayna's a cute girl, not stunning, but standing there at my kitchen table, with her disheveled sexiness, she's irresistible. But then again, I have the same motto about women that I have about food. Presentation is everything.

"Why can't you be like the average guy and put everything on paper plates? This looks better than at the restaurant."

"For one, I'm not the average guy and two you wouldn't be so sprung if I was."

Shayna sits down and takes a bite before responding. Closes her eyes and chews slowly. I love the way she savors my culinary creations. She sounds just like a baby relishing the first sips of a warm bottle.

"Is that good?" It's real hard to hide the cockiness in my tone.

"You already know it is!" she exclaims, smacking her lips thoughtfully. "What is it that I taste? There's a different flavor in this."

Her observation fills me with pleasure. "Oh, you've been around me much too long if you are noticing flavor nuances. I'm proud."

She licks her fingers, one at a time. "Mmm-hmm. Maybe I have been around you too long, but baby I am not sprung."

This woman is hilarious. Shayna is not only sprung; she's 'in love'. I'm flattered, even if I don't feel the same way. She's been hinting that she wants to move in with me, but that is not going to happen. Rule number one of my cardinal rules is: never turn a bed mate into a roommate.

"Okay, you're not sprung. I believe you. That's actually a good thing, because then you won't miss me when I go to Atlanta."

"So you're serious about this?"

I fold my arms across my chest and nod my head emphatically. "It is my duty as a journalist to expose the charlatans and inform the people."

"You better be careful. The bible says 'touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm'."

"Look at you quoting scriptures. I'm impressed. And don't worry about me. If your precious pastor is everything that he says he is then he has nothing to worry about."



Dynamic Uno here: I received the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) for this book sometime before Thanksgiving, but decided to read it over Christmas break since I would have a little bit more time to devote to reading. :) When I first started the book, the storyline was a little slow with all of the "playa" information and I found a few typos in it. (That's why it's called an ARC--there will be changes from this draft to the final publication.)

However, as I read further, I became sucked into the story about Darrin and his new-found life as a Christian. I began to cheer for him as he tried to "live life right" and felt his struggles with the "flesh side" of him. I wanted to beat his "ex" over the head when she showed up at his place, but later on--that part of the story actually turned out for the best. When we begin to see Emoni's life and the struggles she deals with daily as her life is scrutinized by everyone around her, I began to think of my own pastor and what things must be like for his grown kids. (Hopefully they were a little less dramatic.)

Nevertheless, this book is about the daily struggles we face as Christians--no matter what our skin color or church affiliation. It's also about forgiveness and grace as we make our mistakes, ask God for forgiveness, and try not to make the same problems again. Don't get me wrong-- it's not all serious--this book is FULL of hilarious moments and there's romance involved as well. You'll grow to like Darrin and the other characters featured in this book. I actually hope there's a sequel so that we get to learn about some of the other characters in the book. (Hey Oscar--I'm single!) :)

Let me know what you think!

Friday, January 9, 2009

WILD Card: God Is My Coach by Larry Julian

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:


God Is My Coach

Center Street (January 5, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


LARRY JULIAN is a successful consultant and speaker and the author of the nationally acclaimed business book God Is My CEO: Following God's Principles in a Bottom-Line World. As a business coach, Larry's mission is to help people integrate their work and faith to be the successes God intended. He has trained thousands of business leaders, and his clients have included 3M, AT&T, General Mills, Honeywell, the Mayo Clinic, Qwest, and hundreds of other large and small organizations. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Center Street (January 5, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599950480
ISBN-13: 978-1599950488
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Purpose


The Gift of Your Unique Calling


Issue:


How Can I Integrate My Career with My Calling?


I quietly watched as my two-year-old son worked on a wood puzzle. His body and jaw tensed as he tried to fit a piece the shape of a duck into a hole the shape of a sheep. The harder he tried, the more frustrated he became. Succumbing to frustration (as two-year-olds tend to do), he hurled the puzzle into the air and fell into a heap on the floor.


As adults, how often is this scenario played out in our careers? The Conference Board, a leading market information company, reported in 2005 that only 50 percent of workers are satisfied with their jobs and a mere 14 percent identified themselves as very satisfied. In addition, the report states that two out of three employees don’t identify with or feel motivated to drive toward their employer’s business goals and objectives.


Could our dissatisfaction stem at least in part from working in jobs whose skill requirements don’t match our unique gifts? Are we trying to force our God-given and God-inspired uniqueness to conform to a purpose He never intended for us to have? In the end, are we ducks trying to be sheep?

GodIsMyCoach_HCtextF1.


Solution: Fulfill Your Unique Call with Your Unique Giftedness


For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,

which God prepared in advance for us to do. —Ephesians 2:10


In the Halftime Report, Ivey Harrington Beckman tells the story of a middle-aged woman’s journey to making her unique calling her life’s work:


The first time Rosalind Cook sank her hands into a mound of clay at the age of 26, her soul said, “Ah ha!” “Shaping that clay into a meaningful form was like finding a piece of myself that had been missing for a long, long time,” she explains. “I realized I was trying to be who other people thought I should be, and I wasn’t looking at how God created me. I reflected on what really gave me joy in life—and that was sculpting. But I still felt a bit guilty about loving it so much, until a friend watched as I pulled out my clay one evening. I cried as I said: ‘I don’t understand how I can have so much joy in doing this! Where’s the significance? This isn’t saving souls. This isn’t doing anything for anyone. It just feeds me and brings me joy.’

“And he replied, ‘Rosalind, you are made in God’s image. He’s your Creator and when you use the gifts of His image that gives Him pleasure.’”


When we discover our God-given design and calling and use those gifts in service to Him, we experience genuine joy and satisfaction. Giftedness is one of the clues God gives you toward discovering your calling. Exploring your giftedness helps provide clarity to your unique calling—even in the midst of your uncertainty.

GodIsMyCoach_

Discover the Gift of Your Unique Calling


In response to the growing number of workers looking for meaning, satisfaction, and motivation, self-help books continue to flood the market. We’ve become a consumer-driven society looking to fulfill our needs and purpose in life. We even see God as a means to serve us. Many a prayer has started with the words Dear God, please help me get this job. . . . It’s about our satisfaction, our career, and our calling.


There’s an inherent flaw in the consumer-driven approach. God created us to be catalysts, not consumers. We’ve been uniquely designed by God to serve His purpose, not ours. It’s in discovering our true calling and then using our gifts in service to God that we experience the genuine joy and satisfaction we were seeking all along. It may be helpful to examine how our calling became consumer driven in the first place. Part of the blame rests in how a business views its employees. When it comes to finding the right person for the job, the business world often has it completely backwards. In my first book, God Is My CEO, I interviewed Horst Schulze, then CEO of Ritz-Carlton Hotels. Among his thought-provoking insights was this gem: “Our industry is notorious for getting bodies to fulfill a function—to do things. I think this is irresponsible and, in a sense, immoral.


People should not just fulfill a function. They have the right to be a part of something.” Rather than finding the right person with the right gifts for the right job, many organizations fall into the trap of finding bodies to fill positions. Most of the responsibility, however, rests on us. Perhaps we seek a specific career for the wrong reasons, such as fulfilling a parent’s wish, earning a target salary, meeting an organization’s expectations, or trying to achieve a societal ideal. Perhaps we simply have no idea how we’re uniquely gifted. Or maybe we’ve focused all our energy into a career but haven’t taken time to discover our calling. In the end, we pursue everything but our true calling. Our jobs provide a paycheck but no sense of purpose; we make money but don’t make a difference. Dissatisfaction descends upon us. We fall into a continual cycle of trying to fit into someone else’s requirements rather than pursue our God-given call.


Rosalind Cook, the clay sculptor, was a teacher of the blind before becoming a stay-at-home mother of three, serving on school boards and committees. Her life was busy, and for years, sculpting terra-cotta clay was simply a hobby. And then came the day her friend explained that she brought God pleasure by using the gifts God had given her:


“From that day on I gave myself permission to sculpt. And I finally connected with its true significance in my life. I was 41. I cast my first bronze at 42 and was able to sell it almost immediately.” In the Halftime Report, an online publication of Halftime (an organization that teaches how those in the “halftime” of their lives can look back on what they’ve accomplished, understand who they are, and then redirect their time and talent for an even more purposeful second half ), Ivey Beckman tells us:


Today, Rosalind’s prized bronze sculptures, which range from happy, playful children to full-size images of Jesus, grace galleries throughout the world. She has donated many pieces to charities, raising far more money than any committee work she ever did. . . .


“My art is a celebration of life and its Creator,” says Cook. “It gives me the opportunity to motivate people to give themselves permission to dream. If you delight in your God-given passion, He will give you the desires of your heart—because He put them there! Don’t ignore what God is tugging at your heart to do; that’s like saying what He has created for you isn’t important. Pursue what gives you joy, and you will be amazed by the significance of what God will do through you.”


Your Giftedness versus Your Calling


I recently had a conversation with an individual who went into great detail about his calling. The conversation went something like:


“God called me to go to . . . and then He asked me to . . . and then He asked me to . . .”


While I appreciated his passion (not to mention his energy), it sounded like God had given him a twenty-item to-do list.


When Jesus turned to His disciples and said “Follow me,” He provided a considerable amount of latitude for the disciples to translate that into a calling. Each disciple used his unique life experiences, gifts, and passion to respond to Jesus’ call. My favorite definition of “calling” comes from Os Guinness, author of The Call. He describes it this way: “First and foremost we are called to Someone (God), not to something (such as motherhood, politics, or teaching) or somewhere (such as the inner city or Outer Mongolia).”


In Dr. Guinness’s definition, your calling encompasses your whole life rather than just a place or a profession. It’s not doing things for God and going places for Him, but living your life through the unique set of circumstances, experiences, and giftedness He’s given you. Your unique giftedness, on the other hand, is simply how God designed you. It’s the most natural way you were built to respond to life’s challenges and opportunities. In essence, your unique giftedness gives you an important clue toward God’s call on your life and your motivation and ability to respond to it.


The Uniqueness of Your Response


When you use your gifts in response to God’s call, your work becomes a joyful form of worship. Your work is an expression of your giftedness; it’s your way of working out the gifts God worked into you.


He uniquely created you to serve a purpose and then gave you a unique set of gifts to fulfill that purpose. Your calling and purpose, then, is different from your brother’s calling, your mother’s purpose, and your best friend’s calling.


The call is in God’s hands. The response is in your hands. God didn’t create you to be a puppet that would do His will, nor did He dole you out an assignment. Instead, He gives you great latitude to respond to your unique call. In essence, God’s calling is His purpose for your life, and your response (the discovery and utilization of your unique gifts) is part of your purpose for your life. When His purpose aligns with your purpose, your work becomes a joyful and significant journey.


Rosalind Cook pulled away from her community work and reflected on what really gave her joy in life: her sculpting. When word of her talent spread, the requests for commissioned work became overwhelming.


“I asked the Lord for the strength to say no to some requests because I wanted everything I did to have real significance—value other than a pretty piece of bronze to sell in a gallery.” Ivey Beckman describes Rosalind’s epiphany: Soon afterward Rosalind did a small head study of a woman with a turban draped over one shoulder. The sculpture stopped at the clavicle.


“I wanted to create a woman who depicted beauty not because of her hair, not because of her body, but because she had this inner strength and dignity,” explains Rosalind. Weeks later a friend saw the small piece in Rosalind’s studio and asked if she would donate it as a fundraiser for Tulsa Project Woman, an organization that helps women who have no health insurance pay for breast cancer treatments. “I finished the piece and took it to my foundry to have my mold done and asked for Suzy, who always does them for me. But Suzy wasn’t there,” Rosalind recalls. “I learned she had breast cancer and was taking chemo treatments. In tears, I told her coworkers what the sculpture was for and was astounded to learn that Project Tulsa Woman had paid for Suzy’s treatment.”


Later Rosalind asked Suzy to speak at the event in which the small bronze sculpture would be unveiled. Although shy, Suzy bravely told a crowded room how Tulsa Project Woman took her death sentence and gave her the gift of hope. “Everyone there was in tears as Suzy, who had lost her hair and her breast, stood beside the sculpture of a woman who depicted beauty—not because of her hair, not because of her body, but because she had inner strength and dignity,” recalls Rosalind. “Suzy was the living embodiment of that sculpture, and the money to help more women poured in. God honored my prayer for significance by taking the least significant thing I had done and making it the most significant. His hands guided mine to shape that small study because He knew exactly what His purpose was.”


Understanding Your Giftedness: The Motivated Abilities Pattern (MAP®)


In January 2003, Rob Stevenson, managing director of People Management International, a firm that specializes in executive searches, executive coaching, and organizational effectiveness, introduced me to a whole new way of becoming what God designed me to be: the Motivated Abilities Pattern® (MAP®) developed through the SIMA® (System for Identifying Motivated Abilities®) discovery process. Arthur Miller, the founder of People Management, distilled his years of research into this insightful discovery: “The surest way I have found to unlock the essence of a person is to look at what he likes to do and does well.”6 The simplicity is beautiful. Your giftedness is the intersection of what you naturally do well with what you love doing. The MAP® is the system People Management developed to identify and describe a person’s unique giftedness. They found that all patterns of giftedness have five dimensions:


1. Abilities The abilities you love to use. These are the natural strengths and competencies you employ to accomplish the results you want (i.e., study, experiment, analyze, persuade, strategize, teach, etc.).

2. Subject Matter The things you love to work with; the objects or subject areas to which you’re naturally drawn and in which you achieve your most productive and fulfilling achievements (i.e., numbers, concepts, people, tools, machines, color, etc.).

3. Circumstances The ideal environment; situations or settings that stimulate you to achieve. These are the ideal conditions in which you function (i.e., structured, visible, competitive circumstances, etc.) and the factors that “trigger” your motivation (i.e., needs, problems, potential for measurable results, etc.).

4. Operating Relationships The way you interact with others in order to accomplish meaningful results (i.e., team member, individualist, spark plug, facilitator, coordinator, etc.).

5. Payoff The outcome or goal you love to work toward in order to feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction (i.e., excel, overcome, meet requirements, gain response, acquire goods and status, pioneer, etc.).


The MAP® process encompasses your whole life, not just one segment of your life. Your giftedness is not just about finding your strengths but about finding your passion, your circumstances, your relationships, and the meaning and satisfaction you seek. When we integrate all five areas of our giftedness into a whole, we get a better sense of how God designed us to achieve our calling.


In the “God Is My Coach Life Plan,” we’ll go through an abbreviated MAP® process to help you discover your unique giftedness. You’ll discover gifts you never realized you had.


Mentor on a Mission


Robert J. Stevenson, managing director of People Management International, is a nationally known management consultant in senior management selection, organizational design and development, executive coaching, succession planning, and workplace change and innovation. Rob was excited to be able to give some practical ideas about this topic—our unique giftedness, purpose, and calling—in order to bring it within our grasp.


Q: What is the greatest misperception about gifts?

A: Most people suffer under the delusion that the gifted and talented make up less than 5 percent of the population. That’s wrong. One hundred percent of us are gifted and talented.

Q: What frustration do you experience working with clients?

A: We see many people who are gifted but disengaged because they’re doing the wrong job for the wrong reason. Their gifts have been squelched and discouraged by well-meaning but misdirected helpers, counselors, teachers, and friends.

Q: What is the most important point you would like to make about giftedness?

A: God has placed in you a defined and refined system of giftedness that has functioned seamlessly since you were born. You are uniquely gifted; therefore, no standardized test can describe your uniqueness. The answer lies within you. The repeating pattern of your giftedness lies within the stories that reveal what you enjoy doing and do well, your “sweet spot.”

Q: How can I communicate my unique giftedness in a job interview?

A: First, you need to explore and know your “sweet spot”—that special area where your passion and purpose shine. You can’t sell a product until you understand its unique benefits to the customer. In the same way, you can’t sell yourself until you know what you enjoy doing and do well. There’s no unemployment for a person who knows his or her gifts well enough to communicate and leverage them. Second, your value to an employer or organization is based on three areas: 1) your professional experience, 2) your education or training, and, finally, and most importantly, 3) your unique giftedness. You need to integrate all three areas to tell your story effectively.


Counsel for Consideration


When you’re dwelling in a time period that’s gray and filled with chaos, it’s easy to grow impatient with your circumstances. Like my son, Scott, with his puzzle, we try to force the shape of a duck into an opening meant for a sheep. Don’t force your God-given and God inspired uniqueness to conform to a purpose He never intended for you to have. Instead of seeking external clarity and direction, focus your efforts on the internal to find your genuine calling.


There are resources and organizations that can help you find your strengths, personality type, and gifts. I chose to share People Management’s process for three reasons:


1. The process analyzes stories from your entire life, not just one time period. Imbedded within your life story is a treasure chest of clues to your calling. Your giftedness isn’t just about finding your strengths; it’s also about your passion, your best circumstances, your relationships, and the meaning and satisfaction you seek. Allow the process to help you discover how these five dimensions bring out the best in you so you can bring out the best in those around you.


2. God has provided clues to your giftedness since you were born. Taking time to identify your most satisfying moments from your past and then fleshing out these stories is an invaluable tool. The process itself is an important exercise in discovering how God uniquely designed you.


3. Putting the pieces of your giftedness together is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. It can be a frustrating, pressure-filled task of trying to force the duck piece into the sheep-shaped hole or, if you’re patient, it can be a fascinating journey from gray to clarity.


Going through this process won’t, on its own, provide you with clarity of purpose and direction. Further, it would be misleading to tell you that simply doing what you love will help you discover your career and calling. There are times, for example, when circumstances dictate that you must provide for your family, even though you may not love what you’re doing. Discovering your giftedness is one of the many clues God provides. Ultimately, we must trust that God has us in the gray for a reason. Seeking God’s call and discovering how to use your gifts in service to God and others is a noble pursuit. Trust in the process and trust in God. He will provide the clarity and calling you seek in His perfect timing.


Copyright © 2009 by Laurence S. Julian


Center Street

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017