Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Topkapi Secret

American professor Angela Hall's world is falling apart. Left with two things: her money and her job, she sets out to research women's issues in The Middle East. Until she crosses paths with Mohammed Atareek...

Mohammed is a man on a mission. Raised in the Muslim faith, he has learned something no Muslim is supposed to know: the Koran of today is not the original. Could it be true? Mohammed will risk his life to find out.

When Angela's and Mohammed's worlds collide, sparks fly--both from their hearts and the tempers of the terrorists following them

Terry Kelhawk couldn't have written a more perfect book for today's times! The Topkapi Secret has it all, intrigue, controversy, romance and a bit of danger all wrapped up into one neat little package.  As her debut novel Ms Kelhawk took on an ominous topic, and dove right in feet first to shed some light on the mystery around the Koran and how, if any it had been changed or modified over the years.

While I do typically like the romance in novels to grab me from the get go, and the pacing of the one between main characters Angela and Mohommed is slower than I am accustomed, it did keep me turning page after page waiting to see if they finally made it!.  I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for the next in Terry Kelhawk's adventures in fiction!


Terry Kelhawk is an award winning speaker, writer, teacher with significant personal and professional experience with the middle east and Islam.  She holds a doctorate degree but believes people should keep on learning through life.  Her areas of interest are culture, religion and women's rights, especially in the middle east.  She blogs on,, and and likes to travel, read and asking questions.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Walk by Shaun Alexander!

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:

WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)
***Special thanks to Cindy Brovsky, Marketing and Publicity Coordinator, Doubleday Religion / Waterbrook Multnomah, Divisions of Random House, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***


Shaun Alexander was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks after a standout football career at the University of Alabama. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, in 2005 he set an NFL record by scoring twenty-eight touchdowns. In the same season, he set a team record by gaining 1,880 rushing yards and leading his team to the Super Bowl. Today, Shaun travels the country speaking to business and military audiences, at sports camps, and at churches and Christian conferences—appearing in front of thousands of people. He is a gifted communicator and Bible teacher who points listeners toward exceptional achievement by aligning their lives with God’s perfect will.

Product Details:

List Price: $17.99
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307459519
ISBN-13: 978-0307459510


All through history, people have asked,

“Is there anything not possible?”


Sweat drips from my nose as I lean over, hands on my knees, and gasp for breath. I look across the huddle at the left tackle. He’s a high school all-state pick; he’s a college all-American; he’s an all-pro offensive lineman in the National Football League (NFL). Our eyes meet, and I grin at him. He nods back as if to say, “Follow me.”

To my right is the fullback. Blood trickles down his forearm, and mud covers his jersey, but he doesn’t seem to mind. He’s my running mate and my protector. He leads the way, opening holes in the line and throwing his body against linebackers, safeties, and defensive ends who try to stop me. He catches my eye and winks as if to say, “Let’s do it.”

Moments later the quarterback leans into the huddle. “All right. We need two yards for a first down. Green, power right, check, shift right, F left, ninety-seven OT on two.” This is a play where I follow the fullback to the right through a hole between the right guard and the right tackle.

As we break the huddle, I see the crowd stand to its feet. At the far end of the field, the American flag flaps in the breeze. The crowd is cheering, watching, hoping. Seven yards behind the line of scrimmage, knees bent, cleats digging into the turf, I ease into position.

And then everything slows down—the American flag on its pole, the crowd, the players on the field. As if in slow motion, linemen settle into their stance, planting their hands in the grass. Tension fills the air. Something big is about to happen. The quarterback barks the signals, firm and decisive. “Set. Hut!”

Suddenly there’s a loud pop as our linemen collide with players on the defensive line. Up and down the line of scrimmage, groaning and growling, players wrestle like gladiators. As the quarterback drops back, I step to the right. In the next instant I feel the ball slap against my stomach. I clutch it with both arms. My legs are moving, my mind racing. Read it. Read it. Hit the hole or cut back. “Cut!” I plant my foot and explode through the line.

Ahead of me, the fullback crashes into a linebacker. The slot receiver sprints toward the safety. As they collide, the safety flips into the air.

The crowd gasps.

With the safety out of the way, I move to the left toward the sideline. From the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of the crowd on its feet. Fans are waving their arms and screaming, but all I hear is the whoow, whoow, whoow of my breath as I sprint down the field.

By then the cornerback has taken an angle on me and is closing fast. He cuts into my lead with every step. I run harder and harder, calling on every ounce of strength in my body, past the forty-yard line, then the thirty, and the twenty. The cornerback is closing the gap as my foot crosses the ten-yard line. I can hear him behind me and just to the right. I can feel his eyes boring in on me and know that every muscle in his body is pushing to knock me down.

At the five-yard line he dives, reaching with both hands to make the tackle. His arms brush my cleats. I stumble, put my hand on the ground, then stumble again. All the while I tell myself, Pick up your head. As I stagger to the right, I lift my chin. My feet come under me, and I sweep into the end zone for a touchdown. A sixty-yard run on third-and-two. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

The roar of the crowd echoes in my helmet as I turn to celebrate with my teammates. Then up the field I see the trainer and members of my team running toward the thirty-yard line. A player is lying on the ground, writhing in pain. I jog up the field and join the players who are gathered around him. I can see that his leg is broken, twisted at a sickening angle.

“Get the cart,” someone orders. Others sigh with resignation, knowing an injury like that could take a player out of the game for the remainder of the season, perhaps even for good. Then, without hesitation, some of us kneel beside our injured teammate.

We lay our hands on his leg and begin to pray, invoking God’s healing presence and power. We agree together, just as Scripture says, “Lord, let Your will be done here on earth, as it is in heaven. There are no broken bones in heaven” (see Matthew 6:9–10). As we pray, the player’s shattered bone moves back into place, perfectly aligned and as strong as before. Our teammate looks up at us, his eyes wide with wonder.

How would you express the feeling of having your broken leg repaired by God while you’re lying on a football field?

By then the crowd is silent, many standing with their hands to their faces in a look of amazement. They start to murmur, and the look on their faces says they have never seen anything like this. Even those of us who prayed for our teammate to be healed watch in awe as he trots toward the sideline. I turn to the others, look at them, and point to—

Just then my eyes popped open, and I stared at the ceiling. My heart was pounding. “It was just a dream,” I whispered. I glanced at the alarm clock and rubbed my eyes. “But couldn’t it really happen, just like that?”

I have dreamed that dream many times, wearing the different uniforms of the teams I’ve been a part of in high school, college, and the NFL, and I have realized that I’m not really me in that dream. I represent a Christian who believes in God’s power and lives in such a way that God is free to work through his life. The dream illustrates what God can do through a life that is fully yielded and obedient to Him.

Still, I ask myself, is it possible? Can God do today what He did long ago through men like Moses, Elijah, and the first-century apostles? Is it possible for us to experience His miraculous presence to the same extent they did? I think it is. Scripture certainly suggests that it’s possible. But how?


Football has been more than a dream for me. I began playing as a young boy, back in Florence, Kentucky. With the help of coaches, my parents, and many others, I developed skills as a player and earned a football scholarship to the University of Alabama. There, I played for Coach Gene Stallings and Mike Dubose with the Crimson Tide. After college I was drafted in the first round (nineteenth overall) to play for the Seattle Seahawks.

My sixth season with the Seahawks was my breakout year. I set a number of team and NFL records and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. At the conclusion of that season, we won the National Football Conference championship and went to the Super Bowl. Although we lost to Pittsburgh, that season was one of my best ever.

As I began my seventh season in 2006, I looked forward to building on what we’d accomplished the prior year. I trained hard and came to the season’s first game with great expectations. We opened that year against the Detroit Lions.

Sometimes life-changing events come to you with a sign written in huge letters that spell out “Your Life Is About to Change.” Other times the moment slips by with little or no recognition. That game against Detroit was one of the latter. I didn’t realize its significance until months afterward.

During that game a defensive lineman fell on my foot, pinning it in place between his body and the ground. He had shot through the line toward me, and as I cut left to escape his grasp, one of his teammates met me face to face. All three of us fell to the ground. This seemed like a normal play: you get the ball, you run, you get tackled. Pads crash, bodies hit the turf, the whistle blows, everybody gets up and tries it again. That’s football. That’s normal.

But on this play my left foot got sandwiched between the ground and the lineman’s three-hundred-pound body. As I trotted back to the huddle, I could feel the pain.

For a football player, physical pain is a way of life. Since I began playing organized football as a young boy, I have taken the field while nursing sprains, strains, and aches in almost every part of my body. That day against Detroit I didn’t think about the pain. But the pain in my foot never went away. I continued to play that day and carried the ball nineteen times for fifty-one yards. The pain was a distraction, and I failed to gain the yardage that I expected of myself, but I wasn’t too concerned.

After the game team doctors told me I had a bone bruise. That’s a medically nonspecific term for “You got hit hard, and the pain goes to the bone.” I spent time with the trainer but continued to play. Two weeks later, in a game against the New York Giants, the bruise became a fracture, and I was out most of the season.

Doctors told me to stay off my foot, so I spent a lot of time reading. One of the books I read goes deep into the reality of spiritual warfare. While reading The Call by Rick Joyner, I realized that God works in an orderly fashion; He is a God of order. And as I listened to God, I saw that some things in my life were out of order.


I’ve been a Christian since I was ten years old. Loving Jesus has been the center of my life. As important as football has been, it has always been second to following the Lord and allowing Him to work His will through me. As I read Joyner’s book, God spoke to me about how He uses order to bring about His will.

Through the remainder of the NFL season, I continued to do exercises to rehab my injured foot, preparing to return to the game. All the while God was speaking to me about the importance of His order. He doesn’t do things haphazardly. As the Scriptures tell us, God is not a God of confusion or disorder (see 1 Corinthians 14:33). And much more than simply an interesting idea, God’s order became something I felt compelled to apply to my life.

With the Holy Spirit as my Guide, I allowed God to review my friends and relationships, and I started to put people—and especially business relationships—into their proper places. I stopped associating with some of the people I had considered friends and began associating with others I had been neglecting. I discontinued some of the business deals I’d been involved in. At the same time I began to pay closer attention to the things I said, particularly the half truths I would sometimes say in casual conversation or in encouraging others.

I finished that NFL season well. My second game back I had a forty-carry, 200-yard game on Monday Night Football. The Seahawks won the division and were headed to the play-offs. We lost in the divisional playoff game against the Chicago Bears in overtime. I gained 120 yards combined and scored two touchdowns in our losing effort. After missing several games and coming back to finish the season, I was excited about the next year.

The following year my foot was healed, and I looked forward to playing a full season. I performed well through training camp and the preseason games. Then, in the first game of the regular season, I bobbled a pass. As I dove to catch it, I fell on my arm and broke my left wrist. Team doctors put my wrist and hand in a cast, and I continued to play, but the cast did little to protect my broken wrist. The weight of it actually caused additional pain, and I struggled to get past that injury. Additional injuries nagged at me for the remainder of the season.

For the fifth year in a row the Seahawks went to the play-offs. We won the division title for the fourth consecutive year. I was happy for the team, but personally I had a year that fell well short of what I expected. The bruises, strains, and broken bones were adding up, and I wondered if they were a signal. Was God using the pain in my body to prepare me mentally and emotionally for a shift to a new stage in my life?

As the following spring approached, I sensed something was going on with the team. Changes were in the wind, but I didn’t know what the changes might bring. Then, as the time for spring conditioning camp approached, the Seahawks’ managers called me. “We’re making changes. We want to take a different direction. We’re releasing you from the team.” And just like that, I was out of the NFL.

Aside from my desire to love and serve God, football had been the primary focus of my life. It was the means God had used to lift me from the small town of Florence, Kentucky, to a life that few athletes ever experience. But I never lost sight of the fact that God—and not the Seattle Seahawks or the University of Alabama or Boone County High School back home—was the One who was blessing me. God is the Source of all goodness and beauty, all truth and love, and it was His favor that took me to the places I’d gone, even to the discouraging day when the Seahawks let me go. I had things I still wanted to do as a football player, but I said, “God’s will be done,” and went home to find out what that would mean.


Over the next few months, I wrestled with a new direction for my career and my life. During that time God challenged me. “Meet Me at five in the morning. Let’s talk for an hour, every day.” That was a wonderful invitation. The Creator of the universe wanted to spend an hour with me every day. I was excited about it, but there was a problem. He wanted to meet me in the morning. At five o’clock.

Reading the Bible has always been important to me. When I was younger, I read because that was what I was told to do. Later I realized Scripture was a powerful tool God could use in my life. Once I understood that, I began to read and study every day. I prayed every day, too, some days almost constantly, but I heard the voice of God speaking to me more when I read the Scriptures. So I was eager to meet with Him every day, even though I am not a morning person. “See Me at nine; see Me at ten”—that would be easy. But at five in the morning, I’m usually sound asleep. Yet this was God issuing an invitation, and I had to respond.

The first ten days were tough. They were like two-a-days at training camp in July or August. I set the alarm, pushed myself out of bed when it rang, and found my way to a quiet spot in the house. Although I was excited about the new venture, it was rough.

Days eleven through fifteen were better, but I still was grinding it out. And then, about day sixteen, things began to click. I found myself praying, “God, I want You to be in me and on me.” I didn’t know where that prayer came from; it just rose up within me. Later that week I found a verse in the gospel of John that said,

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (14:16–17)

Jesus was asking His Father to send us a Gift, and none of us could have imagined a bigger, more life-changing gift. Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit, who will live “with you and will be in you.” I began to get excited, not just about the idea of the Holy Spirit living in me and on me, but by the fact that a prayer, consistent with what Jesus had already said, had come from deep within my spirit. The reference in the gospel of John, “with you and…in you,” isn’t an exact match to the words I had been praying, but it was very close. “With you and in you; in me and on me.” After I saw that verse, getting up early in the morning to spend time with God wasn’t such a chore.

As God and I continued our morning visits, He began to break that concept down for me. “In you”—the knowing, inner sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit that says, “Go this way; say these words.” The Holy Spirit living inside us guides our life and affects what we do and say on the outside.

“On you”—the miraculous, powerful presence of God made obvious and tangible to others through signs and wonders. As we follow Christ and learn to obey Him, God works in us and uses us in the lives of other people.

During the next few days alone with God, I came to a fresh realization that Jesus really lived and walked on earth. He actually died on the cross, rose again, and sent the Holy Spirit to us. In the process my prayer life took on new energy and importance. When I prayed, the same Spirit whom Jesus sent to His followers was in me and on me. To say I felt a tingling sensation all over sounds a little over the top, but that’s the best way I can describe how I felt. Every cell in my body seemed alive and awake, an experience I’d never had before. My spirit was quickened to the freshness of Scripture.

That new sense of being alive in Christ wasn’t confined only to my prayer time early in the mornings. When I prayed for others in meetings or in private, I began to “know” things and “see” things about them. I would picture the person I was praying for, and I’d see some great things and sometimes awful things. At times I would see some very intimate things about the person, but always it would be an insight into what that person needed at the moment. God was giving me these insights, and I was compelled to act. One moment it would be a word or scripture that seemed appropriate and fitting. The next it would be something that had just happened to the person I was praying for, something I had no way of knowing about. And at times it would be something so obvious that it sounded trite. But regardless of how it sounded to me, I did my best to obey God and deliver His message to the person.

At a meeting one night a woman asked me to pray for her. As I touched her hands, I knew in my heart I was supposed to tell her, “Jesus loves you.” That sounds like such a cliché, you could easily say, “Very profound, Shaun. The Holy Spirit had to tell you that? Everybody knows Jesus loves us.”

Yet I knew in my heart the issue wasn’t about theology or slogans or how perceptive it made me appear. The issue was whether I would say those words at that moment to that woman. Would I obey the leading of the Holy Spirit—that still, small voice speaking to me inside—and trust that God knew what He was doing?

It seemed a little awkward, but I smiled at her and said, “You know, I think I’m supposed to tell you, ‘Jesus loves you.’” As I said those words, tears came rolling down her cheeks, and she received a tremendous release of the Lord’s presence in her life. I don’t know anything else about her, and I said nothing else to her that night. But God knew exactly what she needed. For her, hearing those words opened a door inside that allowed God to minister to her. That’s the presence of the Holy Spirit in you and on you.

Another time, my cousin Ben had some friends over. I told them about the prayer time I’d been having and about how real God’s presence was, not only during morning prayer time, but throughout the day. Later in the evening Ben and his friends and I gathered and began to pray. As we did that, I felt led to go around the group and pray for each person individually.

The first one I prayed for was a guy named Cory. Then I moved to Ben. After him I came to a guy I had never met before that night. As I started to pray, I felt certain I should touch his eyes. When I touched him, I knew the Holy Spirit wanted me to tell him, “You will sleep again.”

I knew nothing about him, and I had no idea what those words meant, but I said them just the same. I admit that was strange, but I went on praying for his life and future.

When I finished praying for each person, I asked Cory to stand up. I laid my hand on the top of his head and prayed for God to touch him from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. Cory smiled and sat back down. We laughed a little about it, and then I asked Cory what he felt. He said, “Honestly, I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel. But when you touched my head and started praying for me, my feet felt like they were on fire.”

Afterward, as everyone was leaving, the young man in his early twenties whom I’d never met before that night—the one I had told, “You will sleep again”—took me aside and said, “You were right-on with that prayer about sleep. I haven’t been able to sleep much in weeks.”


When I was a young boy, I saw a movie called The Last Dragon. You probably can still find it in a rental store or on the discount shelf at a big box retailer. The star of the movie was Leroy Green, a man who never fully believed in himself as a kung fu master. But one day he had to defend the love of his life against a man named Sho’nuf. One of the catch lines from the movie is “Who’s the master?” As they fought, Sho’nuf kept asking Leroy, “Who’s the master?” With Leroy backed into a corner, Sho’nuf moved in to deliver the knockout punch. As he did, he asked again, “Who’s the master?” At that moment Leroy reached up and caught Sho’nuf’s fist. Holding it there a moment, he replied, “I am.” And with that a glow came over him. He began to kick and punch with more power. He won the fight and the love of the girl. He became the master that was always inside him. It took his being involved in that fight for him to find it.

The Last Dragon is fiction, but there’s truth in its message. God offers each of us an anointing in Christ. That anointing is available to every Believer once we find out who we really are in Christ.

My early morning prayer regimen continued for about sixty days. Each day I awakened at five and spent at least an hour with God. During that time the Holy Spirit brought to mind the ideas about God’s order that had occurred to me when I read The Call. I realized that my new experiences with the power and majesty of God’s presence in me and on me had to do with the order God follows when He works in our lives. I marveled at how God had begun a conversation with me two years earlier, then had come back to finish it as if the conversation had never been interrupted.

I heard the Holy Spirit say, “This is what happens when you walk the Walk. Not perfection. I’m not looking for perfection. I’m looking for order.”

In the following chapters we will explore that order—the order of life, the stages through which we grow on the way to spiritual maturity in Christ. God can and does use anyone for anything at any time. But in the broader sense of where He begins with us and where He is taking each of us, there is a divinely appointed order, and there is a progression to the way He works in our lives. God meets us when we are Unbelievers. He speaks to us and reveals Himself, and we become Believers. As we grow in Christ, we become Examples, and then Teachers. And in the lives of many of Christ’s followers, God calls them to do the work of Imparters. They do the miraculous work of Christ on earth, just as the first disciples did.

The five stages and their sequence are important: Unbeliever, Believer, Example, Teacher, Imparter. Skip a stage in the maturity process, and error will creep in. Get ahead of God, and things will start to go wrong. But follow His order in your life, and you will see amazing things happen.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Heart for Haiti!

I just found out about a great program that Macy's is assisting with to help the people of Haiti!  

Heart of Haiti is a program that helps the artisans of Haiti use their talents and skills to make a living for themselves.  It not only helps them financially, it helps the local economy, give the artisan self confidence, and more!  
- Instead of providing one-time funding through charity, Heart of Haiti is creating opportunities for Haitian artisans to earn income with dignity by creating jobs and income for the people of Haiti.

- The Heart of Haiti collection has already led to employment of 350 artists in Haiti and has provided some financial benefits for an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 people in the country

- Each item is designed by a master Haitian artist and made by hand in Haiti

- Each product is made from recycled materials.

- The collection includes 40 different home decor items and accessories

- Products include vases, candleholders, serving trays, picture frames, mirrors, coasters, necklaces, clutch purses and more

- Most items fall in the $25-$60 range.

Instead of giving the big box stores your money this year, why not shop at Heart for Haiti!  

I am  writing this post to spread the word about Heart of Haiti through a Mom Bloggers Club member program and  will receive a Heart of Haiti pendant as a thank you.  

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My first try at CVS

I am new to major couponing and the whole stacking and extra bucks and catalinas and all that stuff, so  today I made my first trip to CVS determined to use eb's and see how I would do.

The main thing I was after was the Dawn dish detergent... it was on sale for .88 and I had a .25 coupon.  I actually had 4 of them!  So I go and grab my Dawn, but they only had 2 bottles, no biggie.... then I went to pick up my son's perscription, while I was waiting, I dove into the sales flyer a bit more.  I saw a couple more deals that I had coupons for, and took the plunge.  One was a infusiom23 product... it was on sale for 5.99, and you get 2.00 EB for it.. well, I happened to have a 2.00 coupon!

All in all once I used my coupons, I came home with:
4 bottles of Pantene shampoo/conditioner
1 bottle infusiom23 leave in conditioner
2 bottles Dawn dish detergent
14 count of generic prilosec and my son's prescription.... grand total?

I am SO proud of myself!  

I'm going back tomorrow for the other Dawn, they were supposed to get a shipment in tonight

Monday, November 29, 2010

And.... the winner is......

The winner of the Fiber One breakfast pack is:

According to Random comment number 6!  That means, eclairre come on down!  You've won the breakfast pack giveaway with this comment:  

I voted for you. eclairre(at)ymail(dot)com

A Path Less Traveled by Cathy Bryant

 My review of the book will be coming sometime this week, with the holidays I haven't had time to write it!

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:

WordVessel Press (October 18, 2010)
***Special thanks to Cathy Bryant for sending me a review copy.***


A Texas gal since birth, Cathy Bryant continues the Mayberry RFD--only Texas Style!--stories with Book 2 in the Miller's Creek series, A Path Less Traveled. Her debut novel Texas Roads was a 2009 ACFW Genesis finalist. Cathy lives in a century-old Texas farmhouse with her husband of almost 30 years and a phobia-ridden cat.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: WordVessel Press (October 18, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984431128
ISBN-13: 978-0984431120


Chapter One ~ Tolling Bells

        In spite of the thousands of winking lights surrounding Trish James, a wedding somehow lost its luster in the wake of death. She nudged her shucked shoes out of the way with her big toe and adjusted the tulle on the wedding arch, the soft netlike fabric billowing beneath her fingertips as she encased the twinkle lights. The church sanctuary, with its white pews, stained-glass windows, and smoky blue carpet, served as the perfect backdrop to her design.

         “This wedding must be hard on you after Doc’s death.” Dani spoke the words as if uncertain she should speak at all.

        The ache in Trish’s heart started afresh, a wound that never healed, but she pushed it aside with practiced expertise. This wedding wasn’t about her. “I’m fine. It’s not everyday my brother marries the most wonderful woman in the world.” She forced a bright smile. “I’ve never seen Steve so happy.”

        Her sister-in-law-to-be didn’t return the smile. Instead the area above her clear blue eyes creased. “You sure you’re okay?”

        “Yep.” Trish snipped the word and bent low to snag a sprig of silk ivy, then inserted it in the proper place and blinked away tears. In truth, it would be great to have someone to share her concerns with, but within boundaries—not right before the wedding, not with anyone who lived in Miller’s Creek, and definitely not with family members. The last thing she wanted was for them to feel like they had to come to her rescue.

        She’d told Delaine some of the situation, but her best friend since high school now lived the fast-paced, Austin lifestyle, their conversations limited to when Delaine didn’t have something else on her agenda.

        “I can’t imagine how difficult it is to be both mother and father to Little Bo.” Dani lowered her head, blonde ringlets framing her face. “And then trying to start a business on top of everything else.”

        Oh, no. She wasn’t going there. Trish clenched her teeth. Steve had already given her this lecture. With his best brotherly concern, he’d told her she didn’t have to be Superwoman. Yeah, right. Try telling that to her empty checkbook and refrigerator. She glanced at Dani, who sat atop the piano railing swinging her legs. “Are you ready for the big day tomorrow?”

        A happy glow wreathed her friend’s face. “And the day after, and the day after that. I think I’ve been getting ready to marry Steve my entire life.”

        “I’m happy for you both.” Though it hurt to speak the words, she meant it. It wasn’t their fault her life was in the doldrums.

        Dani sprang from her perch and trotted down the steps to view the stage. “You have such a gift, Trish. Everything looks magical.”

        Trish gazed at the curly willow branches she’d ordered and spray-painted white, now wrapped with tiny sparks of light. The fairy tale forest blanketed the stage and meandered down the side aisles in an aura of enchantment. Once the ribbons and flowers were placed, and candles inserted into globes and nestled among the boughs, her vision would be complete. “I hope it’s what you wanted.”

        “It’s better than I could’ve ever imagined.” Dani hurried over and draped an arm across her shoulder. “Once everyone in Miller’s Creek see this, you’re gonna get loads of business.”

        A heavy sigh whooshed from her before she could contain it. “From your lips to my bank account.”

        Dani’s eyes clouded. “I don’t know how to say this, so I’m just going to say it and get it over with. Are you okay? I mean…do you need to borrow money or something?”

        No. Yes. Yes. She wasn’t okay. She needed money. She needed…something. “I’m fine.” The lie popped out as she stepped to the box perched on the piano bench. With care she lifted two delicate cracked-glass globes and moved to the candle stands. The words “I’m fine” were her constant mantra these days, like saying them made everything all right. Who was she kidding?

        She closed her eyes and reopened them with a slow blink, weary of pretending. But what choice did she have? Her brother’s wedding wasn’t the time or place to air her personal problems. Besides, she was thirty-two years old, more than old enough to handle life on her own. A glance at her wristwatch sent her pulse on a stampede. Still so much to do to make the decorations perfect. God, please let this bring me business.

        Dani plopped back onto the railing. “Is Little Bo doing better?”

        How could he be? “Sure, if you don’t count the nightmares and barely letting me out of his sight.” She omitted the fact that he was a hairsbreadth away from flunking kindergarten unless she could help him catch up before the school year ended.

        “So the psychologist is helping?”

        Before Trish could respond, the double white doors at the rear of the church burst open. Incessant rain poured from the April sky and silhouetted the form of a man. Dani let out a squeal. “Andy!”

        The petite blonde flew down the steps toward a man who looked vaguely familiar. He wore a lightweight suit with a loosened necktie, and had an easy-going smile that brightened the room. “Hey, how’s the bride?”

        Dani looked up at him, her face radiant. “Never better.”

        “Yeah, I can see that.”

        She tugged his arm. “Come here. I want you to meet someone.”

        His loose-limbed gait gave the impression of someone always relaxed, like he’d just returned from a vacation at the beach.

        “This is Andy Tyler, my friend from Dallas. Andy, this is Steve’s sister.”

        Sea-green eyes sparkled. “Well, does Steve’s sister have a name?” He jogged up the steps and held out a hand, his smile still bright.

        Trish laughed and took his hand. “I’m Trish James. Nice to meet you.”

        Dani’s face took on a crimson hue. “Sorry. Guess my mind is elsewhere.”

        Andy’s gaze rested on her bare feet. “Glad to know you have a name. What about shoes?”

        She couldn’t help but smile. “I have them, but kicked them off hours ago.”

        The hall door squeaked behind them, and Mama Beth, Dani’s mother and the mother figure of all of Miller’s Creek, bustled into the room. Along with her came the smell of fresh baked bread wafting from the fellowship hall. Trish could almost taste the melt-in-your mouth rolls. Maybe she could sneak a few leftovers for her and Bo to nibble on next week.

        “My goodness, Trish, if this isn’t the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen.” Mama Beth hugged Andy’s neck. “Hi, Andy.”

        A tender gleam lit his eyes as he wrapped his arms around the older woman’s shoulders and kissed her cheek. “Hi, sweet lady.” He turned raised eyebrows to Trish. “You did all this?”

        She ducked her head, and pushed a silky strand of hair behind one ear.

        “All of it.” gushed Dani. “And wait until you see the fellowship hall.”

        “Speaking of fellowship hall, I could sure use your help in the kitchen.” Mama Beth’s voice took on a commanding tone as she scuttled to the door. “We’ve got enough work to do for this rehearsal dinner to keep an entire army busy.”

        Dani looked torn. “But I can’t leave Trish down here to do all this by herself.”

        Trish wrestled the wieldy greenery in place, longing to comment that she didn’t need help. It would suit her just fine if they’d all go away and leave her alone.

        Andy rested his hands on his hips in mock protest, his tan jacket pulled back. “What am I? Pork belly? I’ll help Trish. You go help Mama Beth.” He held up a hand. “Trust me when I say I’ll be more help here than in the kitchen.”

        “Good point. I’ve had your cooking.” Dani grinned and rushed after Mama Beth. “Y’all know where to find us if you need help.”

        Andy chuckled and shed his jacket, then laid it across the front pew and turned her way. “What can I do to help?”

        Trish mentally checked her to-do list. “I was actually waiting for someone with more muscles than me to come around. There’s a box full of candles I need brought in from my Suburban.” She pointed toward the side door. “It’s out there and it’s unlocked.”

        He gave a mock salute that bounced his sandy curls. “Yes ma’am.” Andy’s stocky frame loped down the steps and disappeared through the doorway.

        Her eyebrows rose as she made her way to the pile of greenery on the front pew. Dani’s friend was more handsome than she remembered. Trish burrowed through the tangled mess, remembering the promise she’d made Dani to help Andy feel welcome. As if she needed a man to take care of along with her other responsibilities.

        The door slammed, Andy’s eyes and forehead barely visible above the box he white-knuckled. She ran to him. “Let me help. I know that’s heavy. I loaded it this morning.”

        “Nah, I got it.” The words wheezed out. “You loaded this by yourself?”

        She ignored the question and pointed to the stage. “Can you bring it up the steps?”

        He shot her a ‘you’ve-got-to-be-kidding’ glare then labored up the steps, his face red, his breath coming in agonized spurts. As he reached the last step, the toe of his leather loafer snagged the extension cord snaking along the edge of the stage.

        Trish tried to speak, but her words congregated behind locked lips. Andy stumbled, and the box flew from his arms, the candles launching like small missiles. He hit the floor with a thud, the box crash-landing at the base of the first tree.

        In slow motion, like carefully-placed dominos, the trees rippled to the floor in a sickening staccato of crashes and breaking glass. As if to punctuate the effect, the white metal archway in the center leaned forward with a creak as it teetered, then toppled forward with a bang.

        Her mouth hinged open, and her hands flew to her cheeks. All her hard work…ruined. In shock, it took a moment to realize Andy still lay face down on the carpet. “Are you all right?”

        He pushed himself up on all fours and surveyed the devastation.

        Assured he was okay, she slung herself down to the top step. The scene replayed in her mind. A giggle gurgled out then burst forth in an almost-maniacal laugh.

        Andy chuckled and crawled to sit beside her.

        Without warning, her laughter turned to sobs. She covered her face with trembling hands, rage surging at yet another unexpected crying jag. Now she’d never be ready on time. No one would be impressed. No one would want her services. No business. No money.

        “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Andy slid a hand down her arm. “I’ll fix it, Trish, I promise. I’m so sorry.”

        Trish fisted her hands, then straightened her spine and swatted at the tears on her cheeks. “Will you please stop apologizing?” There was no controlling her snappish tone. “For Pete’s sake, it was an accident. I’m not gonna sue.” She clamped her lips, rose to her feet, and waded through the ruins. Fingers at rest against her lips, she knelt to retrieve shattered slivers of glass from the broken globes. These weren’t even paid for.

        Andy stooped beside her, his eyes boring a hole into her skull. “Here, let me get that. You start putting things back where you want them.”

        Trish could only nod at his softly-spoken words, a knot wedged in her windpipe. She lifted a tree into position, the light strands dripping from the branches like a child had thrown them in place. So far her determination to prove herself capable had been met with nothing but industrial-strength resistance.

* * *

        It’s all your fault. The familiar words in Andy’s head relentlessly accused, ushering forth memories and ghosts from the past. Trish obviously spent hours on the wedding decorations, and he’d managed to undo her work with one false step. He forced the finger-pointing voice to the back of his mind and attempted to burn off the chill that now hung in the room. “You live here in Miller’s Creek?”

        “Yes.” Her answer sounded pinched. “My son and I live here. At least for now.” She didn’t look at him while she maneuvered the lights back on the branches with agile fingers.

        Son? Now he remembered. Dani had mentioned something about Steve’s sister losing her husband in a freak accident. A cow kick, or was it a horse? And how long ago? “You’re leaving town?”

        “I don’t want to, but we don’t always get what we want, do we?”

        True, but sometimes what you thought you wanted wasn’t what you needed. Andy rose, his hands cupped to contain the glass shards. “No, we don’t. You have a trash can?”

        Trish’s tawny eyes looked his way. She grabbed an empty box and hurried to him. “Here.” She glanced around the stage, her face gloomy, her shoulders slumped. “Are they all broken?”

        “Don’t know.” He dumped the pieces in the box, where they pinged against each other. “Is there some place I can buy replacements?”

        She rubbed one arm and shook her head. “No. I had them shipped in. I’ll drive to Morganville tonight after the rehearsal to see if I can find something that’ll work.”

        The sadness on her face made his breath stick in his throat. He’d been in Miller’s Creek less than an hour and had already goofed things up. “I’ll go with you and pay for them since it’s my fault.”

        Trish’s shoulders rose then fell. “It’s no one’s fault. It’s just something that happened.” She returned to the branches and hoisted another one back into position.

        Just something that happened. A shaft of light streamed through the stained glass windows and rested on her, and she slumped over like she couldn’t bear the weight of the world any longer. Was she remembering the accident? He removed a pack of peppermint gum from his shirt pocket and popped a piece in his mouth. Her problems made the mess with Sheila seem trivial. What could he do to make things better?

        “Dani told me you’re engaged. When’s the big day?” Trish strung lights along a tree branch. Perfectly.

        He shifted his weight to the other leg then squatted to pluck glass from the carpet. “Uh, we’re not…I mean…well, it’s over between us.”

        She raised her head, and her brown hair shimmered under the light. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

        “Don’t be.” He stood. “It’s for the best.”

        “How so?”

        Andy let out a half-laugh. “Turns out she still had a thing for her ex-boyfriend.” Thank the Lord he’d found out in time. A wife would be wonderful, but not the wrong wife.

        For a moment she didn’t speak, but her face took on a knowing look. “That must’ve been painful.”

        He nodded, his lips pressed together. “It was hard, but God can bring good from hurt.”

        Trish stared at him like she was trying to get a read on him then turned back to the lights. “So neither one of us are really in the mood to celebrate. Especially a wedding.” Her face matched her cynical tone.

        Out in the hallway, muffled voices grew closer. The hall door swung open, and the smell of Mama Beth’s home-cooking watered his mouth. A little boy that looked like Trish raced toward them, then stopped, his dark eyes round. “Whoa! What happened here?”

        Dani and Mama Beth followed, their mouths ajar. After them came Steve Miller, the mayor of Miller’s Creek, and Dani’s soon-to-be husband.

        “It’s all right. Don’t worry.” Trish rushed to the two women and laid a hand on each of their arms. “It’s nothing that can’t be fixed, I promise. We just had a little accident.”

        Andy watched through narrowed eyes. Now she comforted the two women when just a few minutes before she’d been in tears. A good way to get a severe case of whiplash.

        Steve sauntered toward him, his boots scuffing against the carpet, a friendly grin on his face.

        He shook Steve’s hand. “How you doing, Mayor?”

        The other man’s grin expanded as he tucked his fingers in jeans that looked new. “I’ll be doing a lot better in a couple of days.” Lightning fast, Steve untucked one hand and grabbed the boy’s arm as he streaked by. “Hold on, tiger. I don’t think you have any business up there. Have you met Aunt Dani’s friend?”

        The boy skewed his lips in a thoughtful pose and shook his head.

        “This is my nephew, Bo.”

        Andy stretched out a palm. “Give me five, buddy.”

        Bo reared back and delivered a hearty slap.

        “Ouch!” Andy pretended to shake off the sting. “Man, I’ll bet you can throw a baseball really far with that kind of muscle power.”

        The boy nodded, his face creased with a grin. “Yep, but I can’t catch so good.”

        “Well,” corrected Trish, as she came to stand with them. “You can’t catch well.”

        Andy assumed a catcher’s position beside him. The little guy had to be missing his daddy. Maybe he could help. “I used to be a catcher, so I can give you some pointers later. Would you like that?”

        Bo’s eyes lit. “Yeah.”

        “Yes sir.” Trish’s tone held a warning.

        “I mean, yes sir.” He looked toward his Mama. “Is it okay if we play catch, Mom?”

        She sent Andy a tight-lipped smile, her expression cloaked with reserve, but when she turned toward her son her face softened, and she tousled his hair. “Of course, but it might be tomorrow since Mr. Tyler’s already promised to help me clean up this mess.”        “Almost looks like a tornado touched down in here.” Steve rocked back on his heels and jangled the coins in his pocket.

        “A tornado named Andy.” Trish gave a play-by-play account.

        Steve laughed, but Mama Beth and Dani still fussed about like a couple of hens. “That’s one way to get out of carrying more boxes.” Steve winked. “I’ll have to remember that move.”

        “Hey, look at me!” Little Bo perched on the piano railing, one foot in front of the other, his arms out to balance. Andy’s heart moved to his throat. One wrong step would hurdle him toward the carpet, still full of glass.

        All of them raced for the railing, but Andy arrived first. He grabbed him by the waist and slung him over one shoulder, amused at Bo’s contagious belly laugh. “Come here, buddy, before you fall and hurt that amazing pitching arm.”

        Trish joined them, eyes wide with panic, her face white and strained. She gripped Little Bo’s arms. “How many times do I have to tell you not to pull stunts like that?” Her voice shook as she bent down, her face inches from his.

        The boy said nothing, his lips stuck out in a pout.

        Steve laid a hand on her shoulder. “Sis.”

        Volumes passed between the brother and sister before Little Bo bolted for the door. Trish raced after him, her dark eyes full of hurt.

        Both men faced the door, an awkward silence between them. Steve cleared his throat and turned, his eyes fixed on the floor. “Sorry about that. Trish is…uh…going through a rough time.”

        Andy nodded. An understatement if he’d ever heard one. Based on what he’d seen, he was pretty sure not even Steve knew exactly how rough.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My First Giveaway!

I know that I am the only one who has ever went searching for something to eat, grabbed whatever was easiest, say... a bag of nacho cheese chips... and 10 minutes later found themselves licking cheesey fingers and wondering what happened to that bag of chips.   Was my hunger satisfied?  Eh.  More like sedated for a while.  But not really satisfied.  After all, those chips aren't filling, won't stay with you for any length of time at all.  So why exactly did I eat them?

I was hungry, and they were quick, but not filling.  So I should have went for something more, but nope, I didn't. So, when BlogSpark sent me the opportunity to do a review for Fiber One, I jumped at the chance!  Fiber One sent me this really kewl set, a box of Fiber One cereal, a food scale, this really neat bowl, a couple of note pads and a nice steel water bottle.  Just a note about the kewl bowl, it has a freezable , removable ring that comes in it that you can put in the freezer to use to take cold stuff with you!  It also has a smaller bowl inside that sits in the ring, that you could put, oh, say cereal in and fill the bigger bowl with milk and take your cereal and milk to work with you!  And the top, well it has a pop out spoon on it!  Perfect for taking a bowl of cereal along as a snack!  Or maybe some fruit and yogurt!

I have to admit, I am a sugary, sweet, fluff filled cereal kind of girl.  I will go for the biggest box with the kewlest prize in a heartbeat!  So I was hesitant about trying Fiber One.  The preconceived notion that it was an old lady cereal... you know all full of fiber and stuff to keep the plumbing flowing, was predominant in my mind when I poured the first bowl.  But I figured I signed up for it, to give my health a boost, and I was gonna take the plunge and jump right in.

I was definitely surprised! I opened the box to find there were actually two individually packaged bags, I'm assuming to keep them fresh.  I took a deep sniff, and thought they smelled like a familiar cereal I fed my kids when they were small.  So I took a couple pieces and popped them in my mouth DRY even!  I was shocked!   I actually liked this cereal!  With a nice crunch that I depend on to wake me up of a morning,  I was amazed, this "old lady" cereal had a sweet, nutty flavor that hits the right spot!  Next on the agenda was a nice bowl of milk.  The cereal held up well in milk, keeping its crunch and the sweetness was perfect!  I will definitely be buying this cereal again!

Now for the good stuff,

  • One serving of Fiber One Original cereal provides more than half (57%) of the Daily Value of fiber.

  • Fiber One Original cereal is a tasty way to start your morning on the right track with 0 grams of sugar, 14 grams of fiber, 60 calories and 1 gram of fat per serving.

To top off all this greatness, Fiber One is giving one of my readers a chance to win the very same package they gave me!  Check out the picture above for the contents!  Now, how can you win this fantastic prize pack?  EASY.....


Follow me on Google friend connect, and leave a comment telling me about a diet craze that left you hungry!  BOTH thing have to happen for this entry to count!  You need to do this by November 28, 2010 at noon EST.  I will announce the winner on November 29, 2010.  Please leave an email, or some way to contact you with your comment!  Winner will have 72 hours to respond !

EXTRA entries:

Follow my twitter @ppreacherswife

Tweet this giveaway! (2 entries)

Go to FiberOne's website and tell me something you learned!

Like Fiber One on Facebook and tell them I sent you!

Click and vote for me on Picket Fence Blogs, one vote per day, means one extra entry per day!  button on upper left side! 

I have to make sure you know that while I was not paid for this review,  the products, prize pack, information and giveaway pack were all given to me by Fiber One through Blog Spark!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Welcome Welcome Welcome!

I hope you like the new duds, I have worked hard to get the right ones for me. In the very near future like, this weekend, I will begin posting some giveaways, and product reviews, as well as book reviews and giveaways!  So make sure and hit the Follow button over there, and keep coming back for more!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Experience his touch

We are privileged enough to have a guest blogger with us today.  She is Author Debbie Sutton Covington, in promotion of her new release If I...I will. I was contacted a few weeks ago about reviewing If I... I will, and jumped at the chance when I saw the topic of the book.  I've always thought the woman with the blood issue was  kind of ignored for themost part when folks talk about

Experience His Touch
My devotional reading was about genealogy today and I felt lead to think and write about Jesus. I want you to imagine the feelings of people that experienced the touch of Jesus. The blind man Jesus healed; when he was able to see the first time looking between Jesus’s fingers he would have seen love and compassion flowing from Jesus’s face into him. Imagine the woman with the issue of suffering when He likely helped her to her feet as she felt totally loved by this wonderful Jesus! Think about these people Jesus healed and the first night they went to sleep thinking about the amazing touch of Jesus.

What about the times that Jesus gazed into people's eyes? Don't you know He caught the eye of Mary when she anointed Him with love, thanks and quiet understanding? Or at the cross gazing down to His mother's eyes and the love that flowed without a word?

The laughter of Jesus. You know He laughed with the children and He always wanted the children to come to Him. He laughed, He played, and He spent time showing love and acceptance to a group that were not acknowledged much during this time.

Today, it is my prayer that you will ask Jesus for more. More of Him in your everyday, ordinary life! Experience His loving touch, experience his gaze of understanding, the laughter at a shared funny moment. We are given this gift right now; we don't have to wait until we are in heaven. Jesus wants it now and so do you! Reach for Him and share the touch flowing with amazing love!

Sweet Blessings,


Debbie Sutton Covington writes and speaks on women in the church. She is also the founder of Journey of Sisters, a ministry that encourages women in their walk in faith through weekly devotionals, monthly newsletters, and fellowship opportunities. Debbie and her husband Kenny and their dogs live in Shreveport, Louisiana.

If I…I will: simple words, but do we ever move past the “ifs” in our lives? Do we know in our hearts and minds that God indeed will help us to achieve our dreams and goals? If I…I Will is an insightful look at the healing of the suffering woman in Mark 5 whom Jesus healed. And just like that suffering woman, we must step past our suffering, the words we may hear, our own thoughts, and the crowds around us to reach for Jesus. What if we reach Jesus? Will He change our lives forever? Will He heal us? Yes, indeed! Maybe Jesus won’t follow the way we envision the healing or the change to happen, but faith in Jesus will forever change us. So, step out and reach for Jesus’ hand, and begin the adventure of a lifetime.

Purchase If I…I Will on Amazon


If I…I Will Virtual Book Tour
November 1 – November 5, 2010
Coordinated by Rachel Randolph at RedCouch PR

November 1
A Room Without Books Is Empty
Latte With Me
Nikole Hahn’s Journal
Of Sound Mind Spirit

November 2
Nikole Hahn’s Journal

November 3
What You Reading Now?
All Grown Up?
Hope & Despair Mingled Together

November 4
A New Kind of Normal

November 5
Life in Review
Mel’s World
Book Reviews by Molly
Double the Blessings

Monday, October 25, 2010

Uncertain Heart

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:

Realms (October 5, 2010)
***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***


Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar is a certified Christian life coach and speaks at writers’ conferences and for women’s groups. She has taught workshops at such conferences as: Write-To-Publish; American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW); Oregon Christian Writers Conference; Mount Hermon Writers Conference and many local writers conferences. Another of Andrea’s accomplishments is co-founder of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) organization. For many years she served on both its Advisory Board and as its CEO.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (October 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616380233
ISBN-13: 978-1616380236


Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 1866

 Stepping off the train, her valise in hand, Sarah McCabe eyed her surroundings. Porters hauled luggage and shouted orders to each other. Reunited families and friends hugged while well-dressed businessmen, wearing serious expressions, walked briskly along.
Mr. Brian Sinclair . . .
Sarah glanced around for the man she thought might be him. When nobody approached her, she ambled to the front of the train station where the city was bustling as well. What with all the carriages and horse-pulled streetcars coming and going on Reed Street, it was all Sarah could do just to stay out of the way. And yet she rejoiced in the discovery that Milwaukee was not the small community she’d assumed. There was not a farm in sight, and it looked nothing like her hometown of Jericho Junction, Missouri.
Good. She breathed a sigh and let her gaze continue to wander. Milwaukee wasn’t all that different from Chicago, where she’d visited and hoped to teach music in the fall. The only difference she could see between the two cities was that Milwaukee’s main streets were cobbled, whereas most of Chicago’s were paved with wooden blocks.
Sarah squinted into the morning sunshine. She wondered which of the carriages lining the curb belonged to Mr. Sinclair. In his letter he’d stated that he would meet her train. Sarah glanced at her small watch locket: 9:30 a.m. Sarah’s train was on time this morning. Had she missed him somehow?
My carriage will be parked along Reed Street, Mr. Sinclair had written in the letter in which he’d offered Sarah the governess position. I shall arrive the same time as your train: 9:00 a.m. The letter had then been signed: Brian Sinclair.
Sarah let out a sigh and tried to imagine just what she would say to her new employer once he finally came for her. Then she tried to imagine what the man looked like. Older. Distinguished. Balding and round through the middle. Yes, that’s what he probably looked like.
She eyed the crowd, searching for someone who matched the description. Several did, although none of them proved to be Mr. Sinclair. Expelling another sigh, Sarah resigned herself to the waiting.
Her mind drifted back to her hometown of Jericho Junction, Missouri. There wasn’t much excitement to be had there. Sarah longed for life in the big city, to be independent and enjoy some of the refinements not available at home. It was just a shame the opportunity in Chicago didn’t work out for her. Well, at least she didn’t have to go back. She’d found this governess position instead.
As the youngest McCabe, Sarah had grown tired of being pampered and protected by her parents as well as her three older brothers―Benjamin, Jacob, and Luke―and her older sisters, Leah and Valerie. They all had nearly suffocated her―except for Valerie. Her sister-in-law was the only one who really understood her. Her other family members loved her too, but Sarah felt restless and longed to be out on her own. So she’d obtained a position at a fine music academy in Chicago―or so she’d thought. When she arrived in Chicago, she was told the position had been filled. But instead of turning around and going home, Sarah spent every last cent on a hotel room and began scanning local newspapers for another job. That’s when she saw the advertisement. A widower by the name of Brian Sinclair was looking for a governess to care for his four children. Sarah answered the ad immediately, she and Mr. Sinclair corresponded numerous times over the last few weeks, she’d obtained permission from her parents―which had taken a heavy amount of persuasion―and then she had accepted the governess position. She didn’t have to go home after all. She would work in Milwaukee for the summer. Then for the fall, Mr. Withers, the dean of the music academy in Chicago, promised there’d be an opening.
Now, if only Mr. Sinclair would arrive.
In his letter of introduction he explained that he owned and operated a business called Sinclair and Company: Ship Chandlers and Sail-makers. He had written that it was located on the corner of Water and Erie Streets. Sarah wondered if perhaps Mr. Sinclair had been detained by his business. Next she wondered if she ought to make her way to his company and announce herself if indeed that was the case.
An hour later Sarah felt certain that was indeed the case!
Reentering the depot, she told the baggage man behind the counter that she’d return shortly for her trunk of belongings and, aft er asking directions, ventured off for Mr. Sinclair’s place of business.
As instructed, she walked down Reed Street and crossed a bridge over the Milwaukee River. Then two blocks east and she found herself on Water Street. From there she continued to walk the distance to Sinclair and Company.
She squinted into the sunshine and scrutinized the building from where she stood across the street. It was three stories high, square in shape, and constructed of red brick. Nothing like the wooden structures back home.
Crossing the busy thoroughfare, which was not cobbled at all but full of mud holes, Sarah lifted her hems and climbed up the few stairs leading to the front door. She let herself in, a tiny bell above the door signaling her entrance.
“Over here. What can I do for you?”
Sarah spotted the owner of the voice that sounded quite automatic in its welcome. She stared at the young man, but his gaze didn’t leave his ledgers. She noted his neatly parted straight blond hair―as blond as her own―and his round wire spectacles.
Sarah cleared her throat. “Yes, I’m looking for Mr. Sinclair.”
The young man looked up and, seeing Sarah standing before his desk, immediately removed his glasses and stood. She gauged his height to be about six feet. Attired nicely, he wore a crisp white dress shirt and black tie, although his dress jacket was nowhere in sight and his shirtsleeves had been rolled to the elbow.
“Forgive me.” He sounded apologetic, but his expression was one of surprise. “I thought you were one of the regulars. They come in, holler their orders at me, and help themselves.”
Sarah gave him a courteous smile.
“I’m Richard Navis,” he said, extending his hand. “And you are . . . ?”
“Sarah McCabe.” She placed her hand in his and felt his firm grip.
“A pleasure to meet you, Mrs. McCabe.”
“Miss,” she corrected.
“Ahhh . . . ” His deep blue eyes twinkled. “Then more’s the pleasure, Miss McCabe.” He bowed over her hand in a regal manner, and Sarah yanked it free as he chuckled.
“That was very amusing.” She realized he’d tricked her in order to check her marital status. The cad. But worse, she’d fallen for it! Th e oldest trick in the book, according to her three brothers.
Richard chuckled, but then put on a very businesslike demeanor. “And how can I help you, Miss McCabe?”
“I’m looking for Mr. Sinclair, if you please.” Sarah noticed the young man’s dimples had disappeared with his smile.
“You mean the captain? Captain Sinclair?”
“Captain?” Sarah frowned. “Well, I don’t know . . . ”
“I do, since I work for him.” Richard grinned, and once more his dimples winked at her. “He manned a gunboat on the Mississippi during the war and earned his captain’s bars. When he returned from service, we all continued to call him Captain out of respect.”
“ I see.” Sarah felt rather bemused. “All right . . . then I’m looking for Captain Sinclair, if you please.”
“Captain Sinclair is unavailable,” Richard stated with an amused spark in his eyes, and Sarah realized he’d been leading her by the nose since she’d walked through the door. “I’m afraid you’ll have to do with the likes of me.”
She rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Mr. Navis, you will not do at all. I need to see the captain. It’s quite important, I assure you. I wouldn’t bother him otherwise.”
“My apologies, Miss McCabe, but the captain’s not here. Now, how can I help you?”
“You can’t!”
The young man raised his brows and looked taken aback by her sudden tone of impatience. This couldn’t be happening. Another job and another closed door. She had no money to get home, and wiring her parents to ask for funds would ruin her independence forever in their eyes.
She crossed her arms and took several deep breaths, wondering what on Earth she should do now. She gave it several moments of thought. “Will the captain be back soon, do you think?” She tried to lighten her tone a bit.
Richard shook his head. “I don’t expect him until this evening. He has the day off and took a friend on a lake excursion to Green Bay. However, he usually stops in to check on things, day off or not . . . Miss McCabe? Are you all right? You look a bit pale.” A dizzying, sinking feeling fell over her.
Richard came around the counter and touched her elbow. “Miss McCabe?”
She managed to reach into the inside pocket of her jacket and pull out the captain’s last letter―the one in which he stated he would meet her train. She looked at the date . . . today’s. So it wasn’t she that was off but he!

 “It seems that Captain Sinclair has forgotten me.” She felt a heavy frown crease her brow as she handed the letter to Richard.
He read it and looked up with an expression of deep regret. “It seems you’re right.”
Folding the letter carefully, he gave it back to Sarah. She accepted it, fretting over her lower lip, wondering what she should do next.
“I’m the captain’s steward,” Richard offered. “Allow me to fetch you a cool glass of water while I think of an appropriate solution.”
“Thank you.” Oh, this was just great. But at least she sensed Mr. Navis truly meant to help her now instead of baiting her as he had before.
Sitting down at a long table by the enormous plate window, Sarah smoothed the wrinkles from the pink-and-black skirt of her two-piece traveling suit. Next she pulled off her gloves as she awaited Mr. Navis’s return. He’s something of a jokester, she decided, and she couldn’t help but compare him to her brother Jake. However, just now, before he’d gone to fetch the water, he had seemed very sweet and thoughtful . . . like Ben, her favorite big brother. But Richard’s clean-cut, boyish good looks and sun-bronzed complexion . . . now they were definitely like Luke, her other older brother.
Sarah let her gaze wander about the shop. She was curious about all the shipping paraphernalia. But before she could really get a good look at the place, Richard returned with two glasses of water. He set one before Sarah, took the other for himself, and then sat down across the table from her.
He took a long drink. “I believe the thing to do,” he began, “is to take you to the captain’s residence. I know his housekeeper, Mrs. Schlyterhaus.”
Sarah nodded. It seemed the perfect solution. “I do appreciate it, Mr. Navis, although I hate to pull you away from your work.” She gave a concerned glance toward the books piled on the desk.
Richard just chuckled. “Believe it or not, Miss McCabe, you are a godsend. I had just sent a quick dart of a prayer to the Lord, telling Him that I would much rather work outside on a fine day like this than be trapped in here with my ledgers. Then you walked in.” He grinned. “Your predicament, Miss McCabe, will have me working out-of-doors yet!”
Sarah smiled, heartened that he seemed to be a believer. “But what will the captain have to say about your abandonment of his books?” She arched a brow.
Richard responded with a sheepish look. “Well, seeing this whole mess is hisfault, I suspect the captain won’t say too much at all.”
laughed in spite of herself, as did Richard. However, when their eyes met―sky blue and sea blue―an uncomfortable silence settled down around them.
was the first to turn away. She forced herself to look around the shop and then remembered her curiosity. “What exactly do you sell here?” She felt eager to break the sudden awkwardness.
“ Well, exactly,” Richard said, appearing amused, “we are ship chandlers and sail-makers and manufacturers of flags, banners, canvas belting, brewers’ sacks, paulins of all kinds, waterproof horse and wagon covers, sails, awnings, and tents.” He paused for a breath, acting quite dramatic about it, and Sarah laughed again. “We are dealers in vanilla, hemp, and cotton cordage, lath yarns, duck of all widths, oakum, tar, pitch, paints, oars, tackle, and purchase blocks . . . exactly!”
swallowed the last of her giggles and arched a brow. “That’s it?”
grinned. “Yes, well,” he conceded, “I might have forgotten the glass of water.”
Still smiling, she took a sip of hers. And in that moment she decided that she knew how to handle the likes of Richard Navis― tease him right back, that’s how. After all, she’d had enough practice with Ben, Jake, and Luke.
finished up their cool spring water, and then Richard went to hitch up the captain’s horse and buggy. When he returned, he unrolled his shirtsleeves, and finding his dress jacket, he put it on. Next he let one of the other employees know he was leaving by shouting up a steep flight of stairs, “Hey, there, Joe, I’m leaving for a while! Mind the shop, would you?”
She heard a man’s deep reply. “Will do.”
At last Richard announced he was ready to go. Their first stop was fetching her luggage from the train station. Her trunk and bags filled the entire backseat of the buggy.
“I noticed the little cross on the necklace you’re wearing. Forgive me for asking what might be the obvious, but are you a Christian, Miss McCabe?” He climbed up into the driver’s perch and took the horse’s reins.
“Why, yes, I am. Why do you ask?”
“I always ask.”
“Hmm . . . ” She wondered if he insulted a good many folks with his plain speech. But in his present state, Richard reminded her of her brother Luke. “My father is a pastor back home in Missouri,” Sarah offered, “and two of my three brothers have plans to be missionaries out West.”
“And the third brother?”
“Ben. He’s a photographer. He and his wife, Valerie, are expecting their third baby in just a couple of months.”
“How nice for them.”
Nodding, Sarah felt a blush creep into her cheeks. She really hadn’t meant to share such intimacies about her family with a man she’d just met. But Richard seemed so easy to talk to, like a friend already. But all too soon she recalled her sister Leah’s words of advice: “Outgrow your garrulousness, lest you give the impression of a silly schoolgirl! You’re a young lady now. A music teacher.”
Sarah promptly remembered herself and held her tongue―until they reached the captain’s residence, anyway.
“What a beautiful home.” She felt awestruck as Richard helped her down from the buggy.
“A bit ostentatious for my tastes.”
Not for Sarah’s. She’d always dreamed of living in house this grand. Walking toward the enormous brick mansion, she gazed up in wonder.
The manse had three stories of windows that were each trimmed in white, and a “widow’s walk” at the very top of it gave the struca somewhat square design. The house was situated on a quiet street across from a small park that overlooked Lake Michigan. But it wasn’t the view that impressed Sarah. It was the house itself.
seemed to sense her fascination. “Notice the brick walls that are lavishly ornamented with terra cotta. The porch,” he said, reaching for her hand as they climbed its stairs, “is cased entirely with terra cotta. And these massive front doors are composed of complex oak millwork, hand-carved details, and wrought iron. The lead glass panels,” he informed her as he knocked several times, “hinge inward to allow conversation through the grillwork.”
“!” Sarah felt awestruck. She sent Richard an impish grin. “You are something of a walking textbook, aren’t you?”
Before he could reply, a panel suddenly opened, and Sarah found herself looking into the stern countenance of a woman who was perhaps in her late fifties.
“Hello, Mrs. Schlyterhaus.” Richard’s tone sounded neighborly.
“Mr. Navis.” She gave him a curt nod. “Vhat can I do for you?”
Sarah immediately noticed the housekeeper’s thick German accent.
“’ve brought the captain’s new governess. This is Miss Sarah McCabe.” He turned. “Sarah, this is Mrs. Gretchen Schlyterhaus.”
“A pleasure to meet you, ma’am.” Sarah tried to sound as pleasing as possible, for the housekeeper looked quite annoyed at the interruption.
“The captain said nussing about a new governess,” she told Richard, fairly ignoring Sarah altogether. “I know nussing about it.”
grimaced. “I was afraid of that.”
Wide-eyed, Sarah gave him a look of disbelief.
“Let’s show Mrs. Schlyterhaus that letter . . . the one from the captain.”  
Sarah pulled it from her inside pocket and handed it over. Richard opened it and read its contents.
The older woman appeared unimpressed. “I know nussing about it.” With that, she closed the door on them.
Sarah’s heart crimped as she and Richard walked back to the carriage.
“Here, now, don’t look so glum, Sarah . . . May I call you Sarah?”
“Yes, I suppose so.” No governess position. No money. So much for showing herself an independent young woman. Her family would never let her forget this. Not ever! Suddenly she noticed Richard’s wide grin. “What are you smiling at?”
“It appears, Sarah, that you’ve been given the day off too.”