Tuesday, August 25, 2009

They're Baaaa--aaack...

The first day of school has finally arrived and ready or not, here they come. Over the past week I feel like I've been pulled in a million different directions trying to get things ready for the kids. I have yet to really get "my" things done in the library, and now the kids will be demanding to use my classroom and it's not set up for them yet. I hate this feeling of starting off behind. I feel like I'm having a panic attack just typing this because I know that time's up. Please pray for all of the teachers and our students today. We have a brand new population joining our regular students because of boundary changes, and these students are not very happy about having to go to a new school...if you catch my drift. Please pray for a smooth opening and no traffic issues. Have a great day!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Happy Birthday...

to Me!

Yes, I am actually admitting that I'm another year older, hopefully more mature, and definitely full of sass. The picture above is from last years' celebration. I would have put a more recent picture up, but my camera has finally decided that it doesn't want to work anymore, despite being "fixed" a number of times. Booooooooooo. So, I hope to not only find a pair of great shoes to wear for the first day with kids, but I also hope to find a working camera so that I can become a shutterbug again. Of course, this is after the fam and I go out for lunch after church to Kobe's Japanese Steakhouse. No, I'm not having steak--YUCK! But they do cook the food in front of you and put on a great show at a reasonable price. Yay! So, if you're in the area, stop by and say hi. I'll be the one with the ridiculous paper chef hat on her head as the servers sing their version of "Happy Birthday" in Japanese. Have a great rest of the weekend!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy Birthday and other thoughts

Dragging myself out of bed is never easy since I am a night-owl by nature. It's even harder when I have to go back to work (teaching), knowing that there's no relief in sight for another 10 months. Why did I go into teaching again? Oh. Right. I wanted to make a difference. Here's to making a difference! Go forth teachers and conquer, I mean TEACH!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my brother and his fiancee!

(Can you believe they share a birthday?) I hope you two have a wonderful day and don't party too hard in London! Although I'm sure you're either working or on holiday--in which case, send pics!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Yes, it's the last official day of my summer vacation and I'm still kicking and screaming because I don't want to go back--at least, not yet. (Maybe after I've actually had a vacation. Drats--those summer jobs always get in the way!) As I'm sure you've heard me mention before, this is usually the time of year when I start looking around at other jobs until I realize that mine is not so bad. Or, as some people would remind me--at least I have a job. (Thank you Lord!)

Over all, my summer wasn't too terrible:

After all, I did survive VBS and was pleasantly surprised with my kiddos this year. (Thank you Lord!)

I did earn gas money and eating out money while I worked. AND the job was flexible, so that if I finished early, I could go home. Yay! :)

I was able to spend time with some of my friends watching LOST, amongst other "educational" adventures.

I was able to spend some time with my niece and have "girl-time." She's starting to get into make-up now AND she helped me pick out clothing for school/work. (I HATE shopping! She's a little fashionista--look out Stacy and Clinton!)

I watched more movies this summer that I think I have over the past two years combined. Several of which were free because they were previews! Yay free stuff!

I've read lots of great books AND I've been able to read them on my new couch! (I haven't owned a couch in over 9 years!)

Overall, it hasn't been a horrible summer, but I think I need a vacation from my vacation. (Thanks E for planning a trip to New Orleans in November!)

At least I don't have to see children until next week! :) Hope you have a relaxing day and week. I plan on pigging out on ice cream and reading a great book!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Don't Miss Your Life!: AN Uncommon Guide to Living with Freedom, Laughter and Grace by Charlene Ann Baumbich

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:

Don't Miss Your Life!: An Uncommon Guide to Living with Freedom, Laughter, and Grace

Howard Books (June 2, 2009)


Charlene Ann Baumbich is an award-winning journalist, author of the Dearest Dorothy series of novels, author of the nonfiction titles The Book of DUH! and How To Eat Humble Pie and Not Get Indigestion, and a motivational speaker who makes frequent media appearances across the country.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (June 2, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416562990
ISBN-13: 978-1416562993


Don’t Miss Your Life!

It’s Better Than You Think

By Charlene Ann Baumbich


What We Already Know

MEMORY PORTFOLIO (MP): Your invisible, utterly personal, wholly

accessible, always readied for new entries, combination diary and scrapbook of

sensory loaded captured moments. Properly honored, added to, mined, evaluated,

sifted and sometimes even edited, gentle examination of said captured moments

can become the key—the very path—to your success in not missing your life.

When I was a child, I loved playing spaceship and building worm forts with the

Cook brothers. They lived just up the path through the weeds—the path we’d

created by endlessly running through them. (Cook brothers, if you’re out there, please contact me! My maiden name was Brown.) We once left this earth (for real)

on an abandoned hot water heater rigged with a control panel made of half-melted

camera flash cubes and pieces of wood which we wired and taped to its side. Of

course this was back in the pre-Wii days when our only option was to engage in

real-life hands-on play, like sifting through the remnants of the garbage our folks

burned in a rusty barrel out back. Where else could we discover a once common

flash cube transformed by fire into a crystal launch button?

During our space explorations, I was always Flash Gordon1. I mean to tell

you I was Flash Gordon, neither a pretend Flash nor one of those froo-froo tight clothed girls in the old black-and-white television show of my youth. Nope, I was

Flash, who was also tight clothed, but not in “that" way. As for the worm forts,

they were exquisite—although I do not recommend putting a swimming pool in

your complex. Don’t ask me how I know.

Over time, I became a gypsy (inspired by the exotic Sophia Loren), Annie

Oakley2 (sharp shooter), Calamity Jane3 (rough and tumble), Crazy Googenheim (I

loved making my mother laugh while pretending to be that wonderful character

brought to life by Frank Fontaine on The Jackie Gleason Show) and Doris Day,

that quirky fanny-swinging dame of a movie star with whom men always fell in

love. A comparative cast for today’s youth—or, on a bad day at the office or with

the kids, perhaps you—might be made up of an actual astronaut (we didn’t yet

have them back in the fifties), Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore or, say, Jim Carrey. Although I wasn’t doing typical childhood writerly things like reading stacks

of books or writing, not even in a diary, I always had a story running in my head. I

was too busy “living” in another world, or paying attention to the fine, wondrous,

confounding and startling details of my own life to sit down and write about it. At

the time, little did I know that my natural childhood inclination to live in “otherly"

skin was setting the stage for my all-growed-up, as my Grandma used to say,

“accidental” fiction writing career. Never did I suspect that my youthful God-given

instinct to pay close attention to the physical and emotional nuances of my own

life, as well as the lives of those around me, was preparing me for one of the most

fulfilling and rewarding joys of my entire life: writing this book.

However, during an astute memory portfolio (MP) review, my writerly path and this burning message became as clear as a bell. When we give our MPs a chance to work for us, what obvious and meaningful threads we discover woven throughout them! Not only that, but what might the patterns of our frayed threads teach us—spare us from in the future—if we learned to recognize and heed their warning stitches? Turns out I am best fed, educated and ministered to by the magical, mystical power unleashed through stories, and hugely blessed by passing them along. I’m also often a complete doofus, a “qualification” God uses to make sure I don’t run out of fun and wholly relatable, so I’m told time and again, material. Thank you,God—I think. That is why I’m offering you this easy-going pluck-and-play opportunity to pluck what you want from this book of stories and play theirimplications and possibilities into your life as needed. Be advised that along with a full exploration of your MP, a strong Play! thread will weave its way throughout these pages. Doesn’t this approach add up to more fun than a scary “self-help” theme?

In the most relaxing, amusing, yet thought provoking ways possible, I want to remind you, (and me, too) of an incredible asset you’ve been given. I’m talking a mega asset that is so easy to forget. Ready? Here it is: your one and only,

true-self—not someone else’s version/vision—God-breathed life. I don’t know how we can forget such an easy-to-remember asset, but we do. So, if you feel like you’ve lost your way, or like you might need an emotional laxative for your fun-impaired, spiritually-constipated, fear-laden self, this message is just the painless ticket (well, mostly) to help you get your life back to YOUR LIFE!

Then the Lord God formed man of

dust from the ground, and

breathed into his nostrils the

breath of life; and man became a

living being.

Genesis 2:7 NASB

‘Tis my quest to help you learn the lively and releasing arts of listening to,

mining, and then sharing your own stories. Yes, even that story which you hoped

you’d never have to think about again, since maybe, just maybe, you can at long

last learn to laugh about it, or at least unknot the emotional ties that feed its lifenabbing virility.

If you explore your happiest childhood memories of times at play with your

friends, I believe you will discover they reveal the same keys that can infuse you

with satisfaction today. This is one of the best features of a MP, demonstrated by

the fact that when I say something like “explore your happiest childhood memories

. . . ,” you can. Your MP is already up and running and contains everything you

need. Although it might require an occasional reboot or memory tickler—and I’m

going to deliver tons of them—no new software is required. Just dive in! In fact, do

it right now! Shine a light around in the alcoves of your childhood when you were

playing with your favorite playmates.

You are searching, remembering, rediscovering, reawakening . . .

What did you find? Did you spend the majority of your youthful play time

with your imaginary friend? Well that counts. If you thought, perhaps still think,

that imaginary friends are completely weird and unheard of in your land of play,

well that counts, too. After all, it is your brain, your life.

But the universal truth is this: whether our true friends were born of our

imaginations or our childhoods, or we cultivated them as adults, they can serve as

mirrors and stabilizers, partners and butt-kickers, examples and lessons in our

lives. Those voices from the past, trusted friends in the present, and conversations

regarding our futures can often guide us back to our personal north-star course

which we might have long ago lost in the shuffle. Please consider me one of your

new friends, for that is the spirit I bring to this book.

Are you unhappy in your current vocation? Perhaps something as easy as

perusing your MP and pondering your natural gifts, attributes and leanings can

point you toward a new, more satisfying career, or at least flush out a fresh,

rejuvenating and fulfilling avocation or hobby. Later, I’m going to help you

examine the “way" you used to play before someone encouraged you to start

“applying" yourself, which often implied you should knuckle down and leave your

natural-bent “fun and frivolous"—HA!—inclinations behind. Your MP is a great

place to search for the gifts you’ve lost or set aside, to lift them to the light and

reignite them.

What if you don’t even know if you have any gifts? Suggestion: Listen,

mouth zipped, to the way your friends, both old and new, can lay out your

strengths. If you don’t believe me, ask them. It’s time you shore up and reclaim

your uniqueness, if, somewhere along the line, you handed it over to the blandness of other people’s expectations for you. It’s time to reignite the Godgiven hope you already harbor within.

Hope is perhaps the first key that can enable you to wake up, then open up, to your life. Without hope, we are left only with despair. As I heard—and forever remembered—Marilla Cuthbert say to Anne Shirley in the 1985 made-for-TV adaption of Anne of Green Gables, “To despair is to turn your back on God.” Now who’s gutsy enough to do

that?! Not I!


Maybe you derailed (hey, you picked up this book, so something must have

happened!) when you began assuming your life is worse than its actuality. Our

assumptions can get us into whole heaps of trouble, not to mention waste big

blocks of our valuable time here on this earth. How often have you stood in the line

you assumed to be the correct line, only to learn upon finally arriving at the clerk

that you’ve wasted your time in the wrong line? How many times have you

assumed something about your spouse, say that she’d like a can opener for her

birthday, or that he’d welcome a subscription to Communicating 101 as a good

change of pace, only to learn you were wrong—by a gazillion miles? And not only

that, you’re now in deep doo-doo, buck-o or buckette. How often do you set a

course for your career, project or parenting skills based on assumptions that one of

those well-known and respected gurus, including the ones on television, is actually

correct about your individual situation? And surely they wouldn’t let people have

their own TV shows if they didn’t know what they were talking about! Would they?

Never mind that he or she knows none of the details about your personal life. So

you follow their advice to the letter, only to receive a gut-punch to your psyche

when your leap of assumption dumps you and your loved ones down the proverbial

drain. Again.

But even if my examples of errant assumptions did feel like personal

excerpts out of your past year (doink!), be of good cheer since you, you smart

smart person, are reading this book. I’m going to deliver handles and stories that

can help you learn the vital art of questioning your assumptions.

[MOMENT OF TRUTH: You’re on your own with those store lines.] Together, we will tame a few shrewish thoughts and ignite more noble ones. And if that’s not already a deal for the price, I’m even going to help you question your questions! For instance, in your valiant attempts to find out why your life’s trolley has slipped off its happy track, perhaps you’re asking yourself, “Why can’t I be more like [fill in the blank]?”

BZZZZZZZZZZ! Wrong question! God and I are here to meet you exactly

where, how and who you are, which reminds me of a story logged in my MP that

well illustrates my point. See how this is going to work?


I love to attend stockcar races held on half-mile dirt tracks. My favorite part? The

glorious crescendo of rumbling thunder that comes rippin’ ‘round turn four when

the drivers see the track lights turn green. Previous to that moment, perhaps

they’ve had to circle the track once or twice, arranging and rearranging themselves

until they jostle into the track official’s liking, but then . . . GO! As opposed to the

“cleanliness” of NASCAR races, I adore the remarkable demonstration of energy

when, depending on track conditions, either dust or mud kicks out from behind the

tires as the metal-to-metal mass—or perhaps only two cars that have broken away

from the pack—makes its way past the roar of the crazed crowd. Heart pounding, I

sit in awe of each driver who dives into the turns (Man, I wish I was him!),

exploding the back end of his or her car into a wider skidding arc than that of the

curb hugging front end. Centrifugal poetry set to motion by wild childs! Oh, baby!

Although I feel badly for those who, on their own accord, spin out, I also secretly

revel in their courage, since it means they held nothing back. Full bore. Head on.

Havin’ at it! No put-puttin’for them! Isn’t that the way you want to go through life?

Years ago, the grand finale race at a track not too far from us held a “Run

What You Brung" event. (No doubt insurance eventually shut it down.) In other

words, if you’re revved up from watching the night’s action (Let me at it!) and

want to give it a whirl yourself, go ahead and line up your street car—the one you

drove to the races—for the “Run What You Brung." To be fair, you probably had

to prepare for this before the actual event since your car needed to be in the pits,

and there were no doubt indemnity waivers. But nonetheless, you “raced" your

street-drivin’ vehicle. [MOMENT OF TRUTH: Most nights for this event, the

word “race" was a gross exaggeration since gutsy racing appears easier than it is,

but buddy, by golly they were in it!]

So, too, all you need to begin this journey into not missing your life is to run

what you brung. You need no further preparation other than to show up, which

you’ve already done. If you’re happy and you know it, drive yer happy self right

on up to the starting line. If you’re lost and you show it, you, too, are on the right

track since you’re seeking a better way. So you see, you don’t need to be more like

somebody else; you just need to be whoever—and however—you are at this very


Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him

sing praises. James 5:13. Notice that doesn’t say snap out of it, shut up or go away.

Kinda sounds like God’s “Run what ya brung!" permission slip to me. Amen!


When I first started coming to grips with the fact that I’d “accidentally" (more on

this later) become a professional speaker, a professional writer (Stand back!

Professional words at work here!), I couldn’t for the life of me believe it.

[MOMENT OF TRUTH: To this day, only God can truly explain how I got so

“lucky!"] For years, every stumbling step of the writerly/speakerly way, I kept

thinking, “When are they going to discover I don’t know what I’m doing? When

will someone finally check my report cards and learn I received average grades in

all things English? How is it that editors at publishing houses, newspapers and

magazines have chosen to publish my articles and books instead of many others

written by people who’ve spent their lives doing all the right things to become

published writers, like write-write-writing stories from the time they were little,

keeping a diary or journaling every day, attending journalism school . . . none

which are in my history? How is it that kind folks pay me to come speak at their

events when I have no degrees in anything? Other than a couple miscellaneous

writing classes, an unending passion to share what I’ve learned, and more guts than

brains, I have no certifiable qualifications to do what I do. Oh, and that “mostly

Irish" thing, which not only honors Story, but believes in Story’s innate power to


But when I examine my childhood adventures with my friends, the writing

(hahahaha) was on the wall. Or rather it was lurking in the gifts God gave to me—

none which I earned or deserved—along with an unignorable lure to play with

them. (Ah, we’re back to the pluck-and-play mantra of this book. Nice!) Of course

when I was a child, I had no inkling about “gifts," nor did anyone pressure me to

use them. Thank you Mom, Dad! I had no drive to find a career path; my mom was

so happy in her homemaker role that all I wanted was to one day get married and

have kids too, which is what I did. My parents weren’t channeling all their energies

into pushing me down the “fast track" so I could attend the “right" college. Thank

you and bless you, Mom and Dad. (Don’t get me started on the topic of parental

pressuring!) Aside from school, household chores, horses to feed and stalls to

shovel, I had no demands. I simply had time to play at whatever floated my boat,

whispered to my creative brain, delighted my unstressed heart. I had leisure time

(which overbooked kids do not have—okay, I started anyway, but I promise that

I’m done now—I hope!) to explore my natural bents using the crude “tools" of

childhood that would one day help hone my happiness and ability to fully live.


In that last paragraph, you likely noticed that I tried not to get started on something

that launches me up on a soapbox—and not in a good way. (If you didn’t notice,

wake up, people! Thankfully, the next chapter is about wakefulness, but at least

flutter your eyes to let me know you’re still with me—and yourself.) Sadly, I failed

at my attempt to stifle myself since only three sentences later, I started! Is that kind

of lack-of-self-disciplined failure familiar to you? At least this time, even though I

sorrily started, I was able to quickly stop myself. [MOMENT OF TRUTH: I’m

getting better at catching myself. Just not always.] The encouraging part for all

of us is this: as opposed to the negativity of my soapbox , I also possess, and later

will share, many positive, productive antidotes and inspirations on the topic of

overbooked anyone, especially ourselves.

As with all of us, we possess our good sides, as well as our shadowy

soapboxy-y [or fill-in-the-blank] sides. Again, here’s where our MPs usher forth

yet another great incentive to explore them: I don’t want to one day open mine and

discover that every page is filled with me ranting. I feel assured you don’t want

that type of overriding vibe in your MP either. But here’s one of the truly great

things about life: right this moment, God is with us. Because God is with us and

holds us close, we therefore each possess the power—God’s power—to make our

new MP entries more positive. Wonderful! I’d much rather remember, and be

remembered for, my helpful attributes than my negative, harmful or sarcastic ones,

wouldn’t you?

So, even though we mess up, we’re here to run what we brung with the hope

that we can, and will, get better, especially if and when we let our MPs tutor us

while God holds our hands and hearts.

Summing it all up, friends [emphasis mine], I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and

meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the

worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what

you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes

everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Phillipians 4:8, 9 MES

We find what we look for, so let’s look for what’s right—including in ourselves.

How can we move forward in our lives if we’re using all of our energy pounding

ourselves and others downward?


Throughout these pages, I’m going to share many stories from my journey. They

will run the gambit between hysterical (both Ha-ha! and Oh, no!), pristine,

tormenting, profound, Duh! and beautiful. I have no doubt that within them, you

will connect with the good, bad and dubious shades of yourself. As you read,

pluck, and play along, you’ll be able to apply some order, meaning and a tad of

funk-tionality to your memory portfolio, and discover that your days are, or soon

can be, indeed better than you think.

God called his creation and everything in it—which includes us—good.

Even when we behave badly and fall short and say stupid stuff, we are loved by

God. Put that in your memory portfolio and bring it along. It will be the most

important thing you need to remember. But do yourself a favor: stop every few

pages and pray for your own stories, memories and joys to rise to the surface. Be

willing to put the book down when they do, close your eyes, and allow yourself to

sink into them. When you read about me second-thinking things or questioning an

assumption, you do the same. Sometimes those double-clutch discoveries are both

startling and illuminating. Perhaps they’ll even be life transforming.

In fact, let’s practice. Stop and pray right now. Pray that God illuminates

everything—all the lessons, options, goodness and choices—you need to extract,

then trust his grace to help you pray and play it into your life.

(You’re supposed to be praying!)


Dynamic Uno here: Another self-help book?? Not in the sense you're thinking. Don't Miss Your Life will have you laughing because of the author's antics and the lessons she's learned from them. After all, have YOU ever been bungee-jumping? (If I ever make it on the Amazing Race I will do it.) Are you a crowned prince or princess of Sparkledom? (Charlene is, and she even has the pictures of her website to prove it!)

Reading her book made me realize that I'm not the only person who holes herself away to try and rejuvenate after being around people all day. I'm an introvert by nature, but my daily life demands that I am a people person and an extrovert, which sucks the life right out of me--literally. (That's also why I score different letters each time I do the Myers-Briggs type indicator--it depends on where I am at that point in my life.) Why do we let people do this to us? I think this quotation from her book sums it up (at least for myself):
p. 99" Only arrogance tricks a person into thinking that the world--or a
company, church, committee, family, or a cause--can't go on without them while
they take a time-out to refresh."

Ouch! When I read those words I realized that I have that same arrogance and that I should be given a time-out too. (Which is what I've been doing the past two weeks.) After all, I'm not the one responsible for the world, God is, so I just need to get off my high-horse and let Him run things. After all, if there's nothing else I've learned from the loss of people close to me, is that things will continue to run whether I'm there or not. Why not take the time to rejuvenate myself so that I can be at my best for myself and the others in my life.

There were other meaningful tidbits that I gleaned form reading Don't Miss Your Life! While I am familiar with the concept of courage, I don't think I ever really demonstrate it much in my life. Sure, I kill those ucky bugs the size of a shoe called cockroaches, but that's not really the courage that Charlene is writing about in her book. In order to live your life, you have to quit holding onto the handlebars or the safety railings and just JUMP. You have to walk out on the faith that if it's God's plan for you, that He will be there for you. While I didn't write down the page number, I did find this quotation:
"Imagine how your life might be different if you weren't afraid."

Think about that for a moment. If I weren't afraid, I know that there's so much more I could be doing with my life. There are still some areas in which I have a death-grip on the safety bar because I'm too afraid to just take the leap of faith, and I think that's the whole point she's trying to make in the book. If we don't stop holding on to our "old habits", we'll never enter the "Land of the Odd" and be our true selves to reach our full potential. After all, life is about living the moments between the dash on our headstones. Do you want yours to be a dot or a line that goes on for miles?

Let me know what you think of the book. Happy Reading!

No Winner...

I'm sad to say, there was not a winner in the Ryann Watter's and the King's Sword giveaway. No one commented. Maybe I'll place it back in the pile and do another giveaway in the future. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Today is my niece in Oregon's 5th birthday! She's growing up so fast.
Happy Birthday sweetie!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ryann Watters and the Shield of Faith by Eric Reinhold

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:

Ryann Watters and the Shield of Faith

Creation House; 1st edition (May 5, 2009)


Eric J. Reinhold is the president of Academy Wealth Management and a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. His passion is to write youth fantasy novels that incorporate strong moral character and biblical values. Eric teaches Sunday school at First Baptist Sweetwater Church in Longwood, Florida, where he attends with his wife, Kim, and three children.

Visit the author's website and blog.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Creation House; 1st edition (May 5, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599796260
ISBN-13: 978-1599796260


Into the Crypt

Echoes from unseen singers filled the cavernous space inside the United States Naval Academy Chapel. Row after row of precisely aligned dark wood benches were broken up by a single swath of navy blue carpet running the length of the church. The perfectly blended voices seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere in particular. Ryann, who had just celebrated his thirteenth birthday, was drawn into the melodic a cappella song.

Eternal Father, strong to save,

Whose arm hath bound the restless wave.

Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep

Its own appointed limits keep.

O hear us when we cry to Thee

For those in peril on the sea.

Goose bumps popped up along his arm in the silence that followed. He felt alone, yet he was one of the hundreds sitting stiffly upright in the ornately fashioned pews. Squirming in the hard seat, he tried to displace the chill running down his back. He peered forward over the unmoving heads packed into the hundreds of rows in front of them. The white shirts with black and gold shoulder boards, identifying the rank of each midshipman, dotted the otherwise drab congregation.

Focusing further ahead into the base of the circular, domed room, his eyes widened to capture the openness rising heavenward from the brown pulpit. Ryann jerked as blasts sounded from massive golden pipes shooting up from both sides of the altar, cracking the eerie silence. Windy bellows cascaded around the dome, two hundred feet up. The novelty of such an instrument held his attention until the rays of the early morning sun began illuminating the stained glass mural outlined by the pipes. The face of Jesus radiated with the morning glow as He walked calmly across the tossing blue-green waves. Above the stained glass were the words “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”

Without moving his head, Ryann glanced left down the pew. He had positioned himself perfectly, or so he thought, with his sister, Alison, next to him, followed by his brother, Henry Jr., and then his parents. To his right was an open aisle. As the white-robed pastor strode purposefully from his highback chair to the podium, Ryann’s hand crept along his pant leg with the stealth of a spider. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his cell phone, suppressing a smile as he silently congratulated himself on picking out one so small. He was grateful his parents had bought the phone but struggled with the rules that had come with it, like their prohibition against texting in church.

The sound of the pastor’s voice launching into the sermon provided the perfect diversion for him to slide the phone down the side of his leg. A quick glance provided the needed confidence to continue, and Ryann’s thumb moved with robotic precision to select his two best friends and then type out a quick message.

here in academy chapel. wuu2?

Ryann had received the phone as a gift for moving up to seventh grade. Liddy’s and Terell’s parents had quickly followed his parents’ lead, and now the three of them could get in touch with each other at any moment. Being scattered around the country for summer vacations didn’t seem quite so bad when they could quickly share moments with their best friends.

Ryann put his father in the category of “techie” and patiently sat through his instructions on all the features of the cell phone, but the real education came from his friends. He was going to be taking his first year of Spanish when classes began, and Ryann figured it would actually be his third language after English and texting. He smiled. Who would have known a month ago that wuu2 meant, “What are you up to?” Sliding the cell phone under his leg to keep it hidden, he shifted in the hard bench and sighed, waiting to see if there would be a response.


Liddy’s back pocket buzzed as she followed her parents down the white marble stairs of the grand foyer. She slowly reached around to pull out the hot pink phone as her parents and other tourists listened to the tour director.

“The Breakers is the grandest of Newport’s summer cottages and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family’s social and financial preeminence in turn-of-the-century America. Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt established the family fortune in steamships and later in the New York Central Railroad, which was a pivotal development in the industrial growth of the nation during the late nineteenth century—”

Liddy rolled her eyes. Cottages? Who are they trying to kid? This is the biggest mansion I’ve ever seen. Flipping open her phone, she read Ryann’s message and quickly responded.

at huge mansion in rhode island. doin 3.5 mile hike along ocean cliff trail later today. cya

Liddy enjoyed the change of scenery as her family took their annual summer vacation to Rhode Island to stay with her grandparents. With the trip winding down, her parents had suggested a day trip to the famous Newport mansions. It sounded boring to Liddy until they mentioned the ocean cliff walk. Two-thirds of the trek was supposed to be fairly easy and scenic, but the last third was described as “treacherous” in the colorful brochure her parents had given her. Seventy-foot drops off the rocky shoreline into the turbulent ocean waves sounded exciting to her.

The abrupt silence of the tour guide erased her vision of the future, and Liddy’s thoughts turned to Terell. Her thumbs glided across the black keys, typing out a quick message.

wuu2? last few days cw2cu

* * *


Terell jerked in his seat, his elbow jabbing his mother in the ribs. Glancing about, he ran his hands up and down the top of his pants, smoothing them out. His mother’s upturned palm came down on his leg.

Busted, Terell thought, pulling his cell phone out of his pocket and handing it to her.

Terell watched his mother flip it open so only she could view it. As he looked up into her face she mouthed the word later. He leaned back and tried to focus on the sermon. His mom was pretty consistent about quizzing him about the content later in the day.

“Terell, you know you’re not supposed to have your cell phone on during church,” his mother began as they headed out to their car. “It’s a distraction.”

“I know, Mom, but it’s probably important.”

“Well, when you become a doctor and you’re on call, then you can have it on during church. Otherwise keep it off or don’t bring it.”

Later as they reached the car, he asked, “Can I have it back now?”

His mother fumbled around in her purse, then handed it to him. “By the way, what does ‘cw2cu’ mean?”

“Mom! That’s ‘can’t wait to see you,’” Terell breathed exasperatedly while shaking his head.

“Watch it, Terell. A cell phone is a privilege, not a right.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he acknowledged while flipping open his cell to get the message.

He quickly scanned the text and typed back.

have fun. church is havin end of sumr dinner picnic at evans park. cul8r

* * *

Ryann strode hastily down the granite steps outside the chapel doors with Alison trying to keep up. Red brick walkways running parallel to orange and yellow flowerbeds greeted him. The famous Herndon Monument his father always spoke of towered off to the left.

The twenty-one-foot, gray-speckled obelisk sprouted out of the ground in stark contrast to the rich green grass and brown oak trees surrounding it. He tried to picture hundreds of sweaty midshipmen scaling the greased monument to replace the plebe “dixie-cup hat” on top with a midshipmen cover. This marked the official end of the difficult first year and an elevation from plebe to midshipman third class. As his father had recounted numerous times, legend held that whoever replaced the dixie cup hat was destined to be the first in his or her class to become an admiral, although in reality it had not yet occurred.

“Hey, Ryann!”

He turned in time to watch his older brother, Henry, race down the steps two at a time. “Dad’s talking to some old classmates of his and will be down in a few minutes. He’s got our schedule laid out for the whole day.”

“Really?” Ryann replied in mock sarcasm. “Who would have thought?”

“He wants us to check out John Paul Jones’ crypt before we go to lunch,” Henry said, ignoring Ryann’s comment.

“What’s a crypt?” Alison asked.

“It’s where his bones are buried,” Ryann said, widening his eyes and curling his fingers like monster claws.

“Oh, gross!” Alison replied, scrunching up her face and turning away.

“Where is it?” Ryann asked.

Henry turned to lead the way. “It’s underneath the chapel. Come on, let’s go! He said the entrance is around the side.”

The two boys raced along the narrow sidewalk outlining the left side of the chapel.

“Hey, guys! Wait for me,” Alison cried out from behind them.

Rushing down the steps, Henry and Ryann slapped the thick wooden doors with open palms, jolting the heavy entrance open. Pushing their way in, they stopped just inside at a sign with old typeface, pointing the way to the crypt.


Both boys jumped as the high-pitched yelp echoed around the small foyer entrance.

“Shhh,” they whispered in unison, glaring at their sister.

“Sorry.” Alison shrugged her shoulders, the light dimming quickly as the bulky doors swung shut with a loud bang.

“Do you think it’s open to the public?” Henry whispered.

“The door wasn’t locked, so it must be, right?” Ryann hesitated momentarily. No one besides the three of them was in sight, but that made the exploration more intriguing. “Come on, this way.”

The small room’s walls hung with ornate religious symbols. A large black wooden door beside an altar caught Ryann’s attention, and he rushed to examine it.

“Well, Mr. Know-it-all, what next?” Alison asked in her snootiest voice.

“We go through the door, of course.” Pushing the door open, Ryann expected to be at their final destination, but instead the door’s echoing groans resounded through a hollow chamber. The catacombs of the chapel basement seemed unending, and the more up-to-date style of this room appeared nothing like a crypt.

“Are you both sure John Paul Jones is down here?” Alison continued with indignant pessimism.

Ryann’s and Henry’s eyes locked briefly, and Henry winked. “Sure, he’s just down the hallway here. C’mon.”

Another rustic black door with an ancient doorknob awaited them. Henry reached it first. He turned the ornate metal doorknob and pulled back firmly.


Ryann glanced over his shoulder and gave Alison a sinister grin, hoping to increase her anxiety. A dimly lit room of swirling black and white marble awaited them. He followed his brother into the room and nearly collided with him when Henry stopped. Pushing him aside, Ryann grinned at the sight. A massive, almost totally black coffin dominated the center of the room. The base, rising out of the white marble floor, was adorned with four dolphins leaping out from each corner. Eight thick swirled-marble columns surrounding the coffin held up an ornately carved, octagon-shaped ceiling. Glowing blue light formed a halo in the recession above the tomb, cascading down eerily over the marble casket of the immortalized John Paul Jones.

“Ahh!” Alison cried out. Her voice echoed across the marble floors.

Both boys jerked around in Alison’s direction. Standing at attention next to her like a suit of armor was a Marine guard Ryann hadn’t noticed upon entering. His immaculate dress uniform molded to him as if he never took it off, like a painted statue. Ryann scanned up from the dim light reflecting off the soldier’s polished black shoes, past the crisply pressed blue pants with red stripes down each side to his coat-like black top with gleaming gold buttons from neck to waist. His thick white belt with a highly polished Marine Corps emblazoned buckle, white gloved hands and white cover broke up the dark colors that had kept him hidden. He stared into the expressionless face of the guard to see if he could catch him blinking.

“Hey, kids, I see you made it down here!” their father said from the other side of the room as he walked over to join them. He didn’t try to conceal his smile. “Looks like you took the long way.”

“Kinda creepy, Dad,” Alison said, then whispered, “and there’s a guard over there.”

“Yeah, honey, the military posts uniformed guards at significant memorials to honor those who died in service to our country.”

“Dad, I’ve heard of Davey Jones from that pirate movie, but who’s John Paul Jones?” Henry asked.

Mr. Watters glanced at his watch. “We’ve got to meet some friends for lunch, but in short, he’s the father of the American Navy. All of the dimly lit, recessed alcoves down here have artifacts and details of his life. See there?” He pointed at the floor in front of the marbled coffin. “Etched into the floor, circling the sarcophagus—which by the way is made of twenty-one tons of Grand Pyrenees marble—are the names of the seven ships he commanded during his life.”

“Sarco who?” Henry asked, wrinkling up his brow.

“Sarcophagus. You know, a receptacle for a corpse carved from stone. As a plebe you have to memorize that type of important information.” Ryann’s father smiled.

“Yeah, right.” Henry rolled his eyes.

“Okay, gotta go, guys. And this time, let’s go out the right way,” Mr. Watters said as he led them around the room to the exit.

Ryann read off the names of the ships etched into the marble as they walked—Providence, Ariel, Ranger, Serapis, Alliance, Alfred—and some other name he couldn’t read as they went out the door. As they walked toward their car, he sent a text to Liddy.

just left wicked cool tomb of dead guy under the chapel…zup?

Dynamic Uno here: I don't think I've ever felt such joy while reading a book. The first book in the Annals of Aeliana series (Ryann Watters and the King's Sword) was wonderful, but book two--Ryann Watters and the Shield of Faith is even better!

The tale continues as Ryann and his two friends, Liddy and Terell, are finishing their summer vacations with their families when each spies a pulsing blue light in their respective areas. Each teenager texts the other ones with this mysterious blue light sighting and they realize that Aeliana must want them to return for some reason. As they find another way back to the supernatural land, the three find that over 300 years have passed (even though it's only been a few months in their time) and not all is well. No longer do all of the creatures believe in the Word and a black unicorn named Narcissus has declared himself as King. As the trio begins walking through the changed land, they meet up with some very unexpected friends who still believe in the Word. They even meet a white unicorn by the name of Carwyn who expounds upon the wisdom of the Word.

Reading Carwyn's words as he expressed all of the stories about God's love from the Bible and demonstrated God's love for us to the members he called The Chosen, I was excited while I read the book. How awesome to finally have an author who can put God's word into such simplistic terms that even kids and the unsaved can understand them. (Too bad Mr. Reinhold wasn't my Sunday School teacher when I was younger because I probably would have paid attention more.) Ryann Watters and the Shield of Faith is a fabulous book, although you'll definitely want to start with book one: Ryann Watters and the King's Sword.

To help you out, one lucky reader in the US or Canada will win a copy of Book 1 in the Annals of Aeliana series-Ryann Watters and the King's Sword by Eric Reinhold. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment about your favorite adventure as a kid by midnight EST next Friday (August 14) and I will announce the lucky winner in my post next Saturday. Good luck and Happy Reading!

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Fabric of a Woman: Investing in You--Body, Soul, and Spirit by Pamela Hines

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:

Fabric of a Woman Allowing God to Mend and Restore Your Body, Soul, and Spirit

Whitaker House (August 4, 2009)


Pamela Hines is co-pastor with her husband Darrell, of Christian Faith Fellowship Church, a vibrant church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Pamela is the cofounder of Dominion Fellowship, a multi-cultural outreach to of husband-and-wife ministry teams, and founder of The Women’s Image Course, a series designed for both group and individual Bible study. Her first book, A Wife’s Prayer, has helped countless women learn to pray for their husbands and for restoration of troubled marriages.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (August 4, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603741267
ISBN-13: 978-1603741262


The Fabric of a Woman

Investing in You—Body, Soul, and Spirit

Pamela Hines

Whitaker House

I absolutely love Pastor Pamela Hines! She has blessed me and my marriage through her book A Wife’s Prayer, which was used as a guide for a wives’ Bible study that I’m involved in. She also served as a keynote speaker for my retreat called Treasure You, where women were touched and inspired by her message on prayer. It was life-changing!

—Pat Smith, wife of former NFL star Emmitt Smith

Pastor Pamela Hines is a true woman of God you can follow because she leads by example. She exudes godly character and living in every way. Pastor Pam has had a permanent impact on my life primarily because of her unconditional love toward me and everyone I have seen her encounter. The love that she has shown her husband, family, and others is extraordinary—a rare find. If only we all could believe in what she has to say. It is remarkable that everyone gets to experience her counsel, wisdom, experience, and advice in The Fabric of a Woman: Investing in You—Body, Soul, and Spirit. Having the book is like having the counsel of a best friend, mother, and spiritual guide all in one at your fingertips. Read this book; use it in your daily living. Any woman who takes her counsel will get more than she expects. Get ready, world; the bona fide woman is back in style!

—Twyla Betha, wife of pastor and artist Mason Betha

Pastor Pam has been such a light in my life—she has taught me many things that I never experienced growing up. One thing that stands out above all else is her compassion and heart for God’s people. I was never a person who cared that much about anything or anyone. But I have learned, through watching her and through praying, that our goal on this earth is to be like God. Pastor Pam’s heart and personality are like none other. I strive every day to have a heart like hers—a heart that is close to God’s.

—Nina Hines, daughter-in-law of Pamela Hines

Pam and I have been friends for more than twenty years, and I can remember many of the good times that we have shared. We would meet for coffee most mornings after dropping our children off at KinderCare. That would be our quiet time before starting the day. Then there were the times we would drive into Chicago (my hometown), and we would sing along to tapes of our favorite songs. Every time one of us messed up, we would start the song over until we got it perfect, or, should I say, at least got all the words right. So, sometimes, we would play one song over and over again for over ninety miles. I also remember when Christian Faith Fellowship was founded; my family and I were among the first to join. Pam is a wonderful friend with whom I shared many birthdays, heart-to-heart talks, and countless good times. I can truly say that Pam is a wonderful example of a wife, mother, friend, and, most of all, woman of God.

—Vonnie Cummings, friend

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version, © 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked (kjv) are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible. Scripture quotations marked (msg) are taken from The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language by Eugene H. Peterson, © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked (nlt) are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, © 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked (niv) are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, niv®, © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked (amp) are taken from the Amplified® Bible, © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org) Scripture quotations marked (nasb) are from the New American Standard Bible®, nasb ®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

The Fabric of a Woman
Investing in You—Body, Soul, and Spirit

Pamela Hines

ISBN: 978-1-60374-126-2

Printed in the United States of America

© 2009 by Pamela Hines

Whitaker House

1030 Hunt Valley Circle

New Kensington, PA 15068


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data (Pending)

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical—including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system—without permission in writing from the publisher. Please direct your inquiries to permissionseditor@whitakerhouse.com.



As I have walked with the Lord for over thirty years, He has brought powerfully anointed people into my life who have strengthened me and my walk with Christ.

When I met Pamela Hines, it was at a time when God was moving me out of my comfort zone into public exposure. My prayer, being a wife and mother on the battlefield, was to be connected to people with a true anointing from God. I was invited to appear on a Christian broadcast, which is where I met her; we were about to share our testimonies with the world. I needed the assurance that the women I came in contact with would be Christians having real relationships with God—true saints who would be there for me. Our meeting was God’s purpose.

Pamela has a genuine relationship with our God, and it is made manifest in her lovely countenance and conversation. Her presence so reassured me that I was in God’s will. She shared her love for the Lord and for her husband. It was real. It enabled me to connect with her in the spirit.

When I first came to the Lord, a powerful woman of God gave me a book that changed my life. When Pamela gave me her book, I knew I was about to be blessed again. Pamela’s book A Wife’s Prayer is a powerful daily devotional. I read it every morning, along with other prayer books. Pamela’s book changed the way I pray for my husband. Her prayers and knowledge of the Word take us deeper into the dimension of God’s truth. She expounds on how to pray effectively according to the Word of God. Her love and reverence for God and His Word is overwhelming. Truly, the Lord has called her into His presence.

As you read The Fabric of a Woman, I pray that every fiber of you, as a woman, will be changed. You will learn to take authority over negative thoughts and ungodly appetites, as well as how to pray effectively to get results. Too many saints get caught up in their own bondage. Pamela will help to bring you out. She will take you back to the basics of loving and obeying God’s commandments and loving your neighbor as yourself. She really brings it home.

Your sister in Christ,

Shirley T. Gooding

Mother of Cuba Gooding Jr., Academy Award-winning actor




1. God Is an Investor

2. Invest in Yourself

3. The Fabric of You

4. A Triune Blend of Fabrics

Investing in Your Body

5. God Lives Here

6. Diet: A Balancing Act

7. Temple-Building

8. Rest and Relaxation

9. The Oil of Esther: Preparing for the King

10. Body: A Language without Words

Investing in Your Soul

11. It Is Well with My Soul

12. Here I Grow Again

13. Renewing Your Mind

14. Controlling Your Emotions

15. Sisterhood

Investing in Your Spirit

16. The Essence of You

17. Interwoven with the Word

18. Prayer Life

19. The Power of Positive Words

20. Fruit: The Fiber of Life

21. Unforgiveness Is Not a Word

22. Find Your Heart

Conclusion: The Virtuous Woman

About the Author


The Fabric of Me

For as long as I can remember, I have loved and honored God as my “Abba”—my Daddy. You see, I didn’t grow up around my biological father; I have no vivid recollection of him. After my parents separated, we moved away. My mother eventually remarried, but by the time my stepfather became a part of my life, I had already developed a relationship with God the Father, and He has been “Daddy” to me ever since. My stepfather was a wonderful provider who sufficiently supplied everything we stood in need of.

My father-in-law, who has gone home to be with the Lord, also had a great impact on my life. His way with words brought much laughter to my soul, and he was very precious to me. I miss him dearly.

While all of these examples are outstanding, the greatest measure of a father to me is God. As a young child, I was very quiet, reserved, and introverted. But that changed as I grew into the knowledge of who I am in Christ and came to understand that there is a river of life flowing from me, and that I have something valuable to give and to say.

When I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior at eleven years of age, God became Father to me. Embracing the image of who He is to me and who I am in Him has been easy. I trust Him with complete confidence. Every time someone applauds my efforts or accomplishments, I am reminded that He created me in His image. (See Genesis 1:26–27.) He is the One I honor for giving me the person with the greatest, most positive impact on my life: my mother.

I was created by God, “knit…together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13 niv), and He knew what He was doing when He chose Hazel Westmoreland to be my mother. When someone says that I’m like my mother, it gives me great pleasure. If I can be even half the woman my mother was, it will be an honor of the highest distinction. She was truly a special lady, beautiful on both the outside and inside. I imagine that any woman who has or had a good relationship with her mother believes the same thing.

“Doll Baby” is what she was called as a child. The thick, curly locks that adorned her head, the chocolate brown skin that covered her body, and the words of comfort that flowed frequently from her lips reflected the beauty of her countenance and the sweetness of her temperament. As a woman, she was poised and feminine, yet confident and strong. She wasn’t cantankerous or argumentative. Her words were always seasoned with grace, so they ministered that same grace to the hearer.

The truth is, I can hardly think about myself without thinking about my mother. My most prominent characteristics and tendencies are a tribute to her example. So, if I seem patient, kind, loving, and trusting, it is because the fabric of my temperament was woven by the Designer’s finest thread, just as my mother’s was. If ever there was a person fashioned in the image and likeness of God, it was my mother. She was the epitome of a giver—she gave of her resources, her substance, her worth, and her life. It didn’t matter who you were or what you did; if you needed someone to minister to your success, my mother was the woman for the job.

My heart for giving and helping people to excel flows from what I observed my mother doing. It was my mother whom I studied reverently, for she portrayed the image of God in every aspect of her life. I thank God for that attribute: the power and the willingness to give. I have honored God in my giving, and He has blessed me in every aspect of my life—spirit, soul, and body.

My mother received salvation late in her life, but the godly traits that she exhibited are evident in the lives of me and my two sisters, LaVander and Ruby. God knit my mother together with the necessary threads to produce a rich fabric that would flow to every one of her descendants. Because my mother was a giver, so am I. My sons are givers. Their children will be givers, and every generation that follows until Jesus returns will all be givers. My mother left a legacy that was instilled in us as we observed her. She didn’t sit down with us and say, “Let me teach this to you”; we learned the importance of giving by the precepts she demonstrated and the example of her steadfast nature.

Every woman is not so fortunate to have had someone, particularly a mother, who offers her such opportunity and privilege. That’s when you have to allow the Holy Spirit to begin to design you in the image of God the Father. If you’ve never had a godly example to follow—no mentor or confidant to nurture your worth or establish and affirm your footing as a child of God—then God has made Himself available to you in order to fashion you in His likeness. If you think it’s too late to learn of God and follow His example, it’s not. You’re not too old; you haven’t gone so far as to travel beyond God’s grace, for it is immeasurable. His grace is sufficient for you, but you have to trust Him. You have to believe that He is able, willing, and available to do exceeding, abundantly above all that you ask or could even imagine, according to His power that works in you! (See Ephesians 3:20.) Never forget that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

God bless you,



There is an underlying fabric to all of us as women—a common manner in which every aspect of who we are functions and operates. The fabric of you is who you are; it’s what makes you, you. Through your fabric—your unique makeup—you touch the world; you commune with God; you love, feel, and understand.

We have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). This means that we have been crafted by a loving Creator who endued each of us with a marvelous and unique set of attributes, skills, and talents that compose the fabric of our lives.

Clothing manufacturers use many types of fabric: silk, cotton, polyester, nylon, wool, and the list goes on. Silk is said to be one of the strongest natural fibers in the world, while polyester isn’t so famous for its durability. What kind of fabric are you made of? The fabric of a woman is an intricately woven tapestry masterfully crafted with rich hues of virtue, wit, intuition, strength, character, and a host of other fine threads. The fibers of her being define the nature of her spirit, soul, and body. We are much like the exquisitely beautiful and intrinsically valuable natural fabrics; we live, we move, we breathe, and we grow, unlike man-made synthetics.

We would all love to be made from a cut of fabric that is dirt-resistant and flame-retardant; one that never tears or unravels. But the truth of the matter is that life often pulls at our loose threads, threatening to make us fall apart at the seams. Life brings constant pressures that can overwhelm us if we aren’t daily cultivating the fabric of our lives. Like God does, we need to invest in who we are and in what we have in order to withstand the pressures of life.

If we fail to invest in ourselves, we will sustain unwanted injuries to our fabric. The good news is that when we walk closely with God, He becomes our Seamster, and He is quick and adept at mending the rips, tears, and loose threads of life.

God is an Investor. He created us to be fruitful—to multiply and replenish. He uses the assets of those who commit to obedient, faith-filled lives to cause the investment to grow or mature, just as a profitable financial investment yields an opportunity to earn income or profit. God’s investment in our lives provides wholeness for our entire beings—body, soul, and spirit—so that nothing is missing from or broken in our lives. His objective is to make each aspect of us complete: completely healed, completely whole, completely functional. His investment increases as we continuously attend to and appropriate His Word in our lives. His Word defines our worth because it is the standard for our value.

In your life, what’s failing? What isn’t rising or increasing? As never before, the time has come to recognize your worth and allow the “Great Investor” to develop and heal you. He wants you to see yourself as He does, no longer being hostage to or dependent upon a poor self-image of someone else’s opinion about who you are but rather adopting a revelation of who He has created you to be.

Chapter One

God Is an Investor

Investing is the action of redirecting resources from being consumed in order to create benefits in the future. The word create means to generate, produce, fashion, or construct. Each of these references suggests that if anyone takes the time to create something, he seeks to benefit from its existence, and the best way to maximize the existence of a creation is to invest in and protect it.

To capitalize on our ability to produce, God continually invests in us. According to 2 Peter 1:3, He has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” God has invested His attributes in us so that we may have the ability to prosper. When He deposits His nature, character, and ability into us, He expects the return to be people who have been transformed into His image and likeness.

As our lives bear fruit, God creates more and more opportunities for us to increase, resulting in the growth of His investment. His plan for us is that we continually produce abundant fruit in our lives. He gives us gifts and talents in order to enhance His ability to gain a greater return, and His ultimate desire is for you to increase in such a way that the fruit of your life draws others to Himself.

In Matthew 25:14–29, Jesus told a wonderful story about a farmer who was a respectable businessman. He said, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them” (verse 14). Before the businessman left the country, he gathered his chief financial officers and instructed them to invest his money. To one, he gave five talents; to another, he gave two talents; and to a third man, he gave one talent. Each man received no more than what corresponded to his ability or potential to produce. The man who received the five talents invested them and doubled his assets. Likewise, the man who received two talents invested them, yielding a return of two additional talents. But the man who received one talent hid it.

After a long time, the businessman returned and reconciled the increase with each servant. The first man joyfully reported to his master that the five talents had doubled to ten. His master applauded his employee’s faithfulness and gave him a promotion.

The second man told his master that he, too, had received a double return on his investment, and he received a promotion, as well. The businessman said to his employees, “Great job! I appreciate your diligence in getting the job done. Because you have been faithful over these few things, I will make you rulers over many things. Let’s celebrate!” (See verses 21, 23.)

Then, the man who had received one talent said, “Sir, I knew you were a harsh man; your investment was yielding a return where you hadn’t put it and gaining interest where you hadn’t cultivated. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it. But I have it. It’s all here. Here’s your money back.” (See verses 24–25.)

The businessman replied, “That doesn’t make sense. If you knew I received a return where I didn’t invest it, and that I gained interest where I didn’t cultivate, and you thought you would lose the talent, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? I could have gotten at least some interest on it.” He then took the talent from the lazy man and gave it to the first man to add to his ten talents. (See verses 26–28.)

This principle does not apply to money alone. Rather, it touches every area of our lives: our gifts, talents, abilities, resources, spirits, souls, and bodies.

God, our Divine Investor, is a lot like the businessman in this story. He has delegated many gifts, talents, and abilities to us, and He expects that we will remain diligent to increase what He has entrusted to us.

To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.

(Matthew 25:29 nlt)

In the investment world, if an investment fails to produce, a smart investor pulls out when she sees that the price of her shares is falling. God, on the other hand, is committed to His investment. He will never pull out of your life, but He will prune, or cut back, any unproductive areas to ensure that His “stock” does not crash. Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1–3). He protects His investments because He is a wise and caring Investor.

In all His glory, ability, and power, God opened Himself to man. He made us with free will, giving us the privilege to choose and refuse, and this choice includes Him. In His foreknowledge, He knew that we might potentially forsake Him, yet He still chose to make an investment in us, and that investment was the sacrifice of His own Son. Every investment comes at a price, and this one was no different, except in that it was the highest price ever paid. We were bought with the price of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 6:20.)

God sent His only Son in exchange for our redemption. As an Investor, God chose to “lend” Jesus (the original good) in exchange for you and me (the yields on His investment). He made an investment of one Son, and that investment split many times over, bringing Him many sons. Hebrews 2:10 says, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

The Value of a Woman

The value of an object is usually determined by what it’s made of. For example, I have various jewelry pieces composed of cubic zirconia (CZ) and others of diamond. I treat my diamonds much differently than I do my CZ. My diamonds are kept in a special place, but I may put my CZ on the bathroom counter, in my coat pocket, or at the bottom of my purse. If I lose my CZ, I won’t shed a tear; if I lose my diamonds, however, my response will be different. To God, we are more valuable than many diamonds. If we fail to recognize the value God places on us, we will never appreciate our worth as women.

My husband and I built our home, and I was privileged to have the opportunity to customize many of the features. When it came to fabrics, I fell in love with certain textures, colors, and patterns from some of the most exclusive designers in the business. Most of my favorite fabrics were natural, many of them mentioned in the Bible, and I discovered that the finer fabrics where those spun by the designer himself. They had been handcrafted to the designer’s specifications. In the same way, God handcrafted each of us into a unique, vibrant fabric. We were fearfully and wonderfully made, and we bear His image, for He was not ashamed to call us His own. “I will be their God, and they shall be My people.…I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:16, 18).

Created a Female, Made a Woman

Do you realize there is an important and profound difference between being created and being made? You and I were created female, but God made us into women. He never makes mistakes; He had no doubts or regrets when He made you and me in His image and likeness. Let’s return to the Genesis account for a few highlights. In the first chapter of Genesis, we read that both male and female were created: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). In the second chapter, we learn the details of how God made both genders. The male was made, or formed, from the dust of the ground (see Genesis 2:7), and the female was made from a rib that was taken from man.

The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

(Genesis 2:21–23)

Again, there is a distinction between being created and being made. A creation is something unique that would not naturally occur on its own; rather, it depends on the initiative and action of a creator.

It was the breath of God that created man and woman in the beginning. But their bodies were made from what already existed in the earth. God’s purpose for creating Eve is found in Genesis 2:18: “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’”

Until God formed Eve’s body and brought her to life, there was no suitable companion for Adam in the earth. Every animal of the field, fish in the sea, and bird in the air had a companion, but there was none for man. God, the Great Physician, is naturally an unparalleled anesthesiologist. He caused a deep sleep to come upon Adam, and then, as Adam slept, He accurately and precisely removed one of his ribs, using it to form woman.

Created for a Unique Purpose
While man was formed from the dust of the ground, woman was made from the rib of the man. We women are strong because we’re made from strong stuff. The ribs serve several important purposes in the body: they protect vital organs, such as the heart and lungs, and they aid in breathing—when you inhale, they move up to enable your lungs to expand, and when you exhale, they move down to push the air from your lungs.

Likewise, woman serves an important purpose on the earth. She was ordained by God to be a helper, a nurturer, and an influencer. Her role on the earth is distinctly different from the role of man. As women, we possess great power and ability. Satan understood the unique power and influence of women. For this reason, he chose to speak with Eve in the form of a serpent in the garden of Eden. (See Genesis 3:1–6.) He knew that, once tempted, she would carry her influence to tempt Adam, as well. Through the woman, Satan succeeded in getting Adam to defy God’s orders.

God wants us to use our influence as women to further His purposes on the earth. We must not heed the voice of the enemy, who still tries to manipulate the influence of women, for to do so would contradict the plan of God and consequently disqualify us from living in God’s blessing. Women who choose to obey the voice of God will always have God’s best operating in their lives. Use your influence as a woman to bring forth life—not just in a literal sense, but in every arena in which you find yourself, because that’s what you were made to do.

About the Author

The ministry of Pamela M. Hines began in 1982, after her husband Darrell L. Hines was raised to life after being tragically struck by lightning.

Together, they pastor one of the most dynamic churches within the city of Milwaukee, and are the overseeing founders of several other Christian Faith Fellowship Churches. She is the cofounder of Dominion Fellowship, an outreach ministry encompassing a diversity of races and religious backgrounds that caters to the specific needs of husband-and-wife ministry teams.

Pamela has an anointing upon her life to minister to women. She is the founder of “The Women’s Image Course,” a powerful series of lessons designed to meet the needs of women. Her grace and message attracts women from a variety of racial, economical, and social backgrounds. Her aim is to empower women to be all that God has called them to be, focusing on the spirit, soul, and body. Pamela’s earnest desire is to help the body of Christ walk in the knowledge and authority that God has given to them, and to strengthen its members through the ministry of God’s Word.

Her message is practical and those who hear her will become challenged to be all that God desires them to be. Her first book, A Wife’s Prayer, was also published by Whitaker House.

Dynamic Uno here: What a wonderful reminder that as a woman, I need to take some time for myself to renew my body, soul, and spirit. Countless times I find that I have worked myself to the core and feel like I'm hitting a brick wall, all because I haven't taken time to renew myself. (My local friends can even attest to this because it's at these times that I tend to blockade myself in my apartment for awhile and they cannot reach me by phone of email for several days until I've had some quiet alone time. I do usually give them some warning so they don't think I've keeled over on them, but the very fact that I have to do this at all shows that I am not caring for myself spiritually as I should.

It's even written in the Bible in Romans 12:2(NIV)--Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. If we, as women, do not take the time to renew ourselves in body, soul, and spirit, we will not be able to know what God's will is for us, AND we will not be able to care for others either.

Pamela Hines goes through the biblical principles of why we should invest in ourselves and what creates our very fabric as women. She also gives helpful examples of ways in which we can invest in ourselves regardless of whether we are lacking in time and/or money. The Fabric of a Woman is also a short read (Yay! For us time-challenged people.)--I read it in a few hours, but I recommend that you actually take the time to digest each chapter and maybe use each section as a self-study so that you get more out of her words and the principles that are being given. I know I'll probably read through it again at a slower pace because there are some fabulous gems that I need to be reminded of on almost a daily basis.

Let me know what you think! Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Happy Wednesday!

I'm watching LOST with the girls today. We're starting over from the beginning so that we can catch all of the little tidbits before the final seasons. We're on Season 2 right now. They've just introduced Desmond and the raft has blown up. We have lots of theories, so the producers had BETTER answer our questions in the final season or they'll have some 'splaining to do! Gotta go!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Sacred Cipher by Terry Brennan

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 Sacred Cipher

Kregel Publications (July 1, 2009)


Terry Brennan has had an extensive career in journalism, winning several awards, including the Freedoms Foundation Award for editorial writing. Terry served eleven years as the vice president of operations for The Bowery Mission in New York City and is currently a management consultant.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (July 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825424267
ISBN-13: 978-0825424267



1889 • Alexandria, Egypt

Only three types of buyers entered the Attarine—the foolish, the fraudulent, and the forewarned. The foolish, who acted on whim instead of wisdom and expected to fleece an ignorant Egyptian native; the fraudulent, expert in identifying wellcrafted forgeries, anxious to pass them on for great profit; and the forewarned, who searched for treasure but were wise enough to employ someone who knew the ways, and the merchants, of the seductive but evil-ridden Attarine.

Spurgeon knew the risk. But treasures awaited in the twisting, narrow stone streets snaking away from the Attarine Mosque.

He had Mohammad, he had a gun, he had money—and he had God.

Peering down the darkened alley, Spurgeon worried that, maybe, he didn’t

have enough.

Mohammad entered the alley and disappeared from view. The alley was gray-on-gray, denied sunlight by overhanging, second-floor balconies adorning almost every building, their shuttered windows barely an arm’s length from each other. Joining with the dark was a riot of refuse; crazed, cadaver-like dogs; and powerfully pungent, unknown odors.

The Attarine District was home to the greatest concentration of antiquities dealers in Alexandria, both the illicit and the honorable. A person could buy almost any historical artifact along the ancient streets of the Attarine. Some were even genuine. And Charles Haddon Spurgeon was on a treasure hunt.

He held his breath; he held his heart; and he stepped into the dark.

At the first fork, Mohammed Isfahan was waiting. Spurgeon’s heart slowed its pounding pace. Mohammed confidently led the way, weaving in and out of the shoppers and the strollers who clogged the tight byways. It was early morning, before the sun began to scorch the stones, and Spurgeon was grateful for the moderate breeze off the Mediterranean. At his size, the heat sapped his strength and soaked his shirt within minutes. Though the morning was warm, Spurgeon hoped to get back into his hotel, under a fan in a shaded corner of the dining room, long before the withering heat began blowing from the Sahara. On one of his regular trips to the Middle East, Spurgeon was trolling for ancient biblical texts and Mohammed, recommended by the hotel’s concierge, promised he knew where to look.

Now fifty-six, he was England’s best-known preacher, and he grudgingly accepted the considerable influence and power he had earned as pastor of London’s famed New Park Street Church for the last thirty years. Spurgeon was the first to admit preaching was his passion.

But Spurgeon was also the first to admit that books were his weakness. He typically devoured six books per week and had written many of his own. Now, scuttling through the twilight of the dusty alley, Spurgeon sought to slake that hunger in the shops of the Attarine.

Rounding a curve in the street, Mohammed paused alongside a curtain covered doorway, pulled aside the curtain, and motioned for Spurgeon to enter. Inside the shop, not only was the atmosphere cooler, but it also carried the rich scent of old leather, soft and smooth like musty butter. Mohammed bowed reverentially as the proprietor emerged from the rear of the shop. He was a small man of an indeterminate age. What defined him were hawk-like, ebony eyes overflowing with wisdom, discerning of character, and surrounded by a brilliant white kaffiyeh. Mohammed spoke rapidly in Arabic, bowed again, and then stepped back as the proprietor approached Spurgeon.

“Salaam aleikum,” he said, bowing his head toward Spurgeon, who was startled when the man continued in perfectly cadenced English, “and peace be with you, my friend. It is an honor for my humble shop to welcome such a famous man under its roof. May I be permitted to share with you some tea and some of our little treasures?”

Wondering about the origin of the shopkeeper’s English, Spurgeon responded with a bow of his own. “Salaam aleikum, my brother. You honor me by using my language in your shop. But I must ask, how have you any knowledge of me?”

“Ah, the name of Spurgeon has found its way down many streets. I am Ibrahim El-Safti, and I am at your service. My friend, Mohammed, tells me you are interested in texts that refer to the stories of your Nazarene prophet, is that correct?”

“I would be honored to review any such texts as may be in your possession,” said Spurgeon. He took the chair and the tea that were offered by El-Safti and waited quietly as the shopkeeper sought and retrieved three books. While Spurgeon studied the books, one in Aramaic, one in Greek, and the last in an unknown language, Mohammed and the shopkeeper retired through the doorway, stepping

outside the curtain.

Spurgeon slipped into a scholar’s zone, focusing intently on the words before him. But the breeze turned, pushing aside the curtain in the door and carrying the words of Mohammed and El-Safti into the shop and up to Spurgeon’s ear—one well-trained in Arabic, among many other languages.

“What of the scroll?” Spurgeon heard Mohammed ask.

“Do not speak of that scroll in front of this infidel,” El-Safti countered, his voice stronger and more virile than it had been earlier. “You know what our tradition holds; this scroll would be of great benefit to the infidels, both the Jews and the Christians. We are to hold it in trust and keep it out of their hands at all costs.”

“You speak like an imam,” Mohammed said. “No one knows what is on that scroll; no one has been able to translate its meaning. How do we know what it contains?”

Spurgeon forgot the books in his lap. He heard a more interesting story floating on the breeze.

“If it can’t be read, is there any difference in whose hands it rests? I believe the English preacher would pay handsomely for the privilege of owning something he doesn’t understand. Ibrahim,” said Mohammed, “look at me. It could pay for your daughter’s wedding.”

“Do not tempt me, Mohammed,” El-Safti said. “That scroll has remained here for two generations, and no one has ever requested to see it. Quiet, now, and let us see what may interest the Englishman.”

Spurgeon attempted to return his attention to the books, but his eyes were pulled back to the men as they entered through the curtain. El Safti reverted to his perfectly subservient composure as he stepped before Spurgeon. The only thing out of place was an amulet — a Coptic cross with a lightning bolt flashing through on the diagonal—that slipped from the neck of his robe as he came

through the doorway.

“Do these books meet with your interest?” El-Safti asked.

Spurgeon rose from the chair and handed the books back to El-Safti. “I am disappointed to tell you, my friend, that you may have been swindled. The book in Aramaic is a fraud, and a poor one at that. The Greek, I have two copies in my library. And the third is in a language I have not seen before, but does not appear to be Semitic. Tell me, do you not possess anything more authentic?”

A moment’s silence passed through the shop. El-Safti’s pitch black eyes flickered with offense.

“My humble apologies,” El-Safti said. “Your reputation as a scholar is well earned, Dr. Spurgeon. But perhaps I do have something that you would find interesting. It is very old, but of indeterminate age.” El-Safti walked to the back of the shop. “It is an infidel’s mezuzah, nicely etched, wrapped in a very colorful piece of Moroccan silk.”

Disappointed in the books, Spurgeon’s interest increased at the mention of silk. His niece’s birthday would be upon him when he returned to England. Perhaps there was a prize here, after all.

El-Safti slipped into a small closet at the rear corner of the shop and could be heard snapping the hasp on a lock and moving a chain. Silence, then a stream of Arabic epithets, as El-Safti recoiled from the closet.

“Forgive me,” he said, his wild eyes looking first at Spurgeon and then at Mohammed. “It is gone. The scroll, it is gone.”

First fear, then unbelief, fought for dominance in El-Safti’s weathered face. His hands trembled as he wrung them together.

“Allah has punished me for my greed,” El-Safti said, slipping back into Arabic. “Mohammad, remove this infidel. And hurry back. We must think. We must find the scroll. We must find it before it is lost forever.”

Dynamic Uno here: Whoa! (As in Joey Lawrence style.) Whoa! The Sacred Cipher is a bit of National Treasure, Indiana Jones, and Joel Rosenberg rolled into one. As a librarian whose dream is to work with biblical archaeologists and help catalog their findings, I didn't want to put this book down. Yes, there's a lot of history intertwined into the book, but if the historical significance were not explained, you wouldn't care about the action that was happening in the book and believe me--this danger is of epic proportions.

It all starts when Tom Bohannon finds a secret room in the Bowery Mission in New York. There, he finds a secret scroll that contains a message in a language that has been dead since Egyptian times. Once he and his group of researching historians and scientists decode the message, they realize that if the meaning were true, it would change the world as we know it. Others are aware that the scroll has been found and they don't want anyone to unlock and discover it's true meaning. In fact, they're willing to kill for it. Tom and his friends decide to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, but will it cost them their lives?

AWESOME book! I'm also very grateful that the author, Terry Brennan, put in a bit about the research he did for the book because I was really wondering how much was real and how much was creativity on his part. It also made me want to go over to Jerusalem to "explore" and see what I could find based upon the descriptions in the book. (I know it's not real, but wouldn't it be cool if....) If you like action and adventure--you'll love The Sacred Cipher by Terry Brennan. Happy Reading!