Sunday, December 28, 2008
I am so glad to have Christmas. The beautiful, holy and perfect Christ child born to save. It makes me smile everytime I think about it. That phrase, "born to save", is the key to the other side of the coin. The Christ child was born to save. Save He did. He saved us by his death and resurrection. That is what brings me to Easter.
Now that I have celebrated Christmas, I am beginning to prepare my heart for Easter. I know Lent is the forty days before Easter. But you know, I think it is important to start focusing on preparing my heart now.
I want to spend this time before Easter to pray and seek to know the Christ child, my Savior and Redeemer, better and more intimately than I ever have before. I want to prepare my heart to more fully understand and appreciate the sacrifice that was made on my behalf, on your behalf.
So, what will this preparation look like for me? More time reading my bible, more time praying, more time praising, more time serving my family in capacities I do not exactly cherish, less time complaining, less time worrying.
There are so many books on things were should be doing. I plan to concentrate on the one that can truly instruct me, my Bible. Passages such as Galatians 5:13-25, Ephesians 4-6, Philippians 2:3-18 and Colossians 3. There are other passages but these are an excellent starting place. Read them for yourselves, follow their instructions and see if your heart does not feel better prepared for the wonder and cleansing power of the Easter season.
Will you join me in preparing for Easter? You will be so blessed by doing so!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
New Leaf Publishing Group (October 20, 2008)
David Shibley is founder and president of Global Advance, a ministry that trains and resources thousands of church and business leaders every year in many of the world's most underserved nations. Having ministered in almost 60 nations, David has a passion to strengthen and encourage national leaders to advance God's kingdom worldwide. David and his wife, Naomi, have two married sons.
Jonathan Shibley serves as vice president of Global Advance. His primary focus is directing the Marketplace Missions program for equipping business leaders in developing nations. He also is engaged in international business. Before joining Global Advance, he earned a business degree from Baylor University and served with Promise Keepers and Teen Mania. Jonathan and his wife, Sarah, have three children.
List Price: $ 13.99
Hardcover: 173 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Publishing Group (October 20, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Years ago, a disgruntled man stormed up to Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, after he heard Dr. Pierce preach. The angry man snarled, “I guess all there is to this Christianity is give, give, give.” Reflecting later on that encounter, Dr. Pierce chuckled, “It just goes to show that even with the wrong spirit a man can get some revelation and truth!”
The often-quoted maxim – “You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give” – is true. Here are seven practical benefits of giving for God’s Kingdom purposes and the fulfilling of the Great Commission.
Your gift goes where you may never go. Your gift is an extension of yourself. You receive money in exchange for your investment of time and life. So when you give for Kingdom purposes, in a real sense you’re giving a part of yourself. Your gift says you want your life to count for what is eternal. Americans are generous, and Christians in America are especially so. There are many legitimate causes, but I don’t know anywhere givers can get more done for the dollar than in giving to world missions.
Giving living loosens the grip of materialism. I noticed a bumper sticker on the back of a sports car that read, “The man who dies with the most toys…wins.” But Jesus taught that the man who dies with the most “toys” is a short-sighted fool. It’s time for us to stop loving cars and clothes and start loving countries! If God so loved the world that He gave His Son, we need to so love the world that we invest in being sure everyone everywhere hears about His Son. I’ve driven through the poverty-drenched streets of Kolkata and the wealth-lined avenues of Beverly Hills. In both environments I saw desperate people. Jesus wasn’t kidding when He warned, “Beware of covetousness because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.” God calls us to embrace biblical prosperity while rejecting materialism. We can do both; we must do both.
You experience the eternal principle of sowing and reaping. Some churches in Africa practice a unique form of church discipline. If a professing Christian is living in sin, he is allowed to come to church, but he is not allowed to give! When the offering place comes to him, the usher places his hand over the plate and prevents him from giving. It is a powerful statement that the blessing of God is literally being prevented from coming to the unrepentant man’s life. It’s an eternal law woven into the very fabric of the universe. Farmers call it the law of sowing and reaping. Scientists refer to it as cause and effect. It’s reinforced throughout the Scriptures. The pattern is clear: you must sow in order to reap.
You lay up treasures in heaven. Jesus taught, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” A businessman once approached me and said, “I need more of a heart for missions. What should I do?” I replied, “Write out a $2,500 check for missions and sow it to the harvest, and I promise you, you’ll have more of a heart for missions.”
It just works that way. Where your treasure is (present tense), there your heart will be (future tense). Although “you can’t take it with you,” you can send it on ahead! This very day you can lay up treasures in heaven.
God will supply your every need. Are you ready for a jolt? Philippians 4:19 is not a promise for every Christian. It’s a great verse: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” But it is not a carte blanche to be claimed at will by anybody. No, this promise is given exclusively to those who invest in advancing the gospel.
Read the context. Paul told the Philippians they were the only church that had invested to send him on his first missionary journey. As a result of their gift to launch Paul to the nations, he promised that God would supply their every need. Yes, you can claim Philippians 4:19 if you give for the advance of the gospel.
You experience the joy of making a difference in the world. I make no apologies for challenging American Christians to tear loose from some of their money and give it to advance Kingdom causes worldwide. Jesus taught, “To whom much is given, from him much will be required.” With blessing comes accountability. There is a longing inside every true Christ-follower to make a difference for Him. We do not bear sole responsibility for world evangelization, but because of our affluence and influence, we do bear heightened responsibility.
You experience the significance of participating in God’s global purposes. A businessman thanked me for the opportunity to give to Global Advance. He tearfully said, “You give me purpose.” For this man, building his company is not the bottom line. He goes beyond the bottom line to build Christ’s Kingdom through building his company.
You move past mere success to true significance by aligning your life with God’s primary purpose. God’s primary purpose is to see His Son known, loved, and worshiped by redeemed people from every tribe and nation. And you are part of that plan. Live to give.
Remember: “Give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)
Reflect: “What do your offerings say about your heart levels of gratitude and love for God? What does your spending say about what’s truly important on this earth?” – Robert Morris
Pray: That God will make you a joyful giver to His Kingdom causes.
Act: Where is the Holy Spirit directing you to invest for Christ’s Kingdom today?
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I do want to share one thing with you. It's a little message God spoke to my heart.
Sunday my husband decided he wanted to track down a friend of his. This friend was in our wedding. I became friends with his wife. We all used to hang out when we lived in Chicago. Then they moved to Ohio, then to England and then back to Ohio. In the meantime, we moved to North Carolina. We lost touch after our move here. They were going through some stuff and probably going to move again so she couldn't provide me with a number. Life got busy. Rick and I went through our own trials here in NC and well, six years went by. So Sunday, he asked me to get online and see if I could find his friend.
I found him. And I found something else I was not ready for. His wife died in July. Forty years old and a mom of four. Dead. It hit me hard. Ladies the enemy had her fooled. He made her feel alone. He made her feel like no one knew what she was going through in life. He made her believe her only comfort was to be found in the bottom of a bottle. She believed his cocktail of lies and it killed her. It tore apart her family.
What I struggled with was that I didn't know if she ever accepted The Truth, my Jesus, the Christ. Then I wondered if I had talked about Him enough, presented Him enough when I had the chance. I fear I did not. I will not accept the guilt the enemy has tried to place in my heart and mind. And he is trying extremely hard.
What I will accept is the responsibility to not be ashamed of the gospel. I will acknowledge that as I was deciding if I was even going to submit those book proposals, I wondered if I really wanted to write and not have it marketed toward the Christian market. I liked the idea on the one hand but I also wanted to be a "Christian writer".
Ha! God clearly pointed out to me through the sad news that I am a "Christian writer", whether I write for Christians, seekers or the completely unchurched. Apparently, God was telling me with those book proposals "Yes, you do want to submit those proposals. I have called you to write for people like your friend, who don't really know me. Do you intend to go where I have called you?"
Yes, I do.
Do you intend to go where He has called you?
Be blessed friends! And be a blessing to someone everyday.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
The Wild Rose Press (November 21, 2008)
In Robin's words:
I am the Special Education Coordinator for Denton County Juvenile Justice Alternative Program. I work with at risk teens from fifth grade through high school. My husband and I have been married for thirty-one years and we have two grown children. The first two years of marriage, Rick and I traveled overseas as missionaries. Afterwards we served as pastors of a church in Illinois. Presently we live near Dallas, Texas. He is in business and I work for the school system. (My husband still makes yearly mission trips to India.)
To date, my literary works include approximately two hundred articles in magazines such as: Guideposts, Live, Lookout, Mennonite, Christian Reader, Decision, Breakthrough and Christianity Today. Other short stories appear in the books: A Match Made in Heaven, Stories from the Heart, The Evolving Woman, and the New York Times bestseller, In The Arms of Angels by Joan Wester-Anderson. Ann Spangler also used one of my stories in her book, Help! I Can’t Stop Laughing. Another two-dozen stories have been published in the Chicken Soup books. One story, Mom’s Last Laugh, was re-enacted for a PAX-TV program: It’s a Miracle. I co-authored a thriller, The Chase, for Revell. My second book, The Replacement, was released in June 2006. The Candidate was released July, 2007. I continue to publish short stories in magazines. Wildcard, a mystery, will be a spring 2009 release. The Christmas Edition releases Nov. 20. The Valentine Edition releases in January 2009.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $ 11.99
Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press (November 21, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
The usual winter blizzard blew into southern
Lucy Collins carefully maneuvered her car
through the snow that grew deeper with every gust
of wind. She parked directly in front of her family
owned business, The Turtle Creek Newspaper, just
as her brother, Mike, was making his second pass at
clearing away the snow from the drive with the
“Hey, Mike! Help me carry these inside, will
you?” Lucy called to him as she got out of her heated
car. A sharp wind sucked up her words and nearly
knocked her off balance.
Mike turned off the blower and cupped his hand
around his ear. “What did you say?” His breath
circled around his face in the frigid air.
“Help!” Lucy hollered. She popped the trunk and
pivoted her body in an exaggerated fashion-the way
models do when showcasing prizes on a game show.
She stepped to the other side and waved her hands,
palms up, along the food trays and her mother’s
crystal punch bowl set. Then she flashed her
younger brother her biggest smile.
Mike galloped up to the car just as another gust
of wind, hammered snow at them. “It’s freezing out
here! Even my nose hairs are frozen solid. You go on
in. I’ll get these as soon as I’m finished shoveling the
“Thanks.” Lucy gave him a kiss on the cheek. To
keep her balance, she gingerly walked across the
crunchy ice crystals and into the warm building.
Once inside, she tugged off one boot and then the
other, dropping them under her desk. She hung her
coat and scarf on the back of her swivel chair as she
looked around at the decorations of wreaths and
holly. A sprig of mistletoe hung over the empty desk
at the back. That would surely go to waste. Music
played loudly from her dad’s old stereo inside his
Christmas used to be her favorite holiday, but
after a disastrous end to her engagement, a couple of
years ago, this particular holiday now only served as
a dark reminder of broken promises. With prayer
and a loving family, Lucy was ready to start her life
again, which meant buying her own place right after
the first of the year. Working and living with the
same people was often stifling, especially when
they’re her parents.
Lucy’s mom was the cheerleader as well as the
gopher, making sure everyone had what they
needed, whereas Lucy’s father focused persistently
on getting the next edition out and on time.
Each year at Christmastime, however, Harold
Collins took off his publisher hat and donned
something completely different. The weeks wedged
between Thanksgiving and Christmas became about
assisting others. She loved it all and nothing could
ever take her away from this life.
The employees had finished packing up the last
of the boxes from the food drive which were now
stacked neatly, ready to be dropped off at area
shelters. Lucy wanted to acknowledge all the work
they’d done. “For a small cluster of people, we sure
accomplish a truckload of work, fast! These
donations will help many people down and out this
holiday season. Like all the other years we’ve
worked closely together and done a great job.”
Christmas was about unbridled joy but today, try as
she may, she still wasn’t feeling it. Maybe she could
fake it for everyone’s sake. Lucy lowered her head in
modesty and stated, “This is going to be a Christmas
As if releasing faith into the air, everyone began
to punctuate her words with applause. Right on cue,
Harold Collins stepped out of his office wearing a hat
something like one of the elves might wear. He even
bobbed his head up and down to show off the cluster
of bells that dangled at the tip of the loopy crown.
Lucy couldn’t help but have her first laugh of the
day, along with the other employees.
“I know it’s still over a month until Christmas
but I thought you could use this now,” Harold said as
he produced a fan of festive red and green envelopes.
Squeals of delight resonated as they opened the
envelopes and saw the amount written on the checks
but none was as loud as Ulilla Langston. Lucy’s dad
had inherited her along with the paper when her
grandpa died. Ulilla was a beautiful, black woman
with hair swept close to her head in a French twist.
She carried weight around the place both literally
“Harold and Margaret Collins,” she crowed, as
her hand fluttered to her chest. “No way can you
afford to give us this.”
“Nonsense!” Harold blustered, and politely
dismissed her words of protest with a wave. “It
should be three times this and you know it! You all
have worked effortlessly and clocked in many
overtime hours in order to get the newspaper out
each week. I am the one who is grateful. Merry
The bell above the front door jingled as Mike
walked in balancing the punch bowl along with the
holiday trays. “Where do you want these, sis?”
“Let me help with that.” Lucy took the top two
trays. “Take the rest into the break room. I’ll follow
Margaret touched the sleeve of Lucy’s cardigan.
“Have you finished our Christmas cards yet?”
“I started a month ago and finally finished them
last night. Not only did I hand write each one, but
the envelopes are addressed and stamped.”
“Which of the photographs did you decide on?”
“I thought I told you that all ready. Never mind,
there’s one in my desk I’ll show you.” Lucy set down
the trays. From the desk drawer, she took a single
envelope and handed it to her mother. “Here, I was
looking for something that would embody a perfect
form of truth when it comes to Christianity.”
Margaret stared at the card. A country church
was nestled into a hillside surrounded on all sides by
fresh snowfall. Above, the sky was brilliant blue.
Lucy looked over her mother’s shoulder. She
scrunched her face, second-guessing her
photographic choice. “Does it look okay?”
“It’s a whole lot more than okay. This is simply
breathtaking and looks professionally done. Lucy,
you should have put your logo somewhere on this
card so people would be aware that you are the one
who took this photograph of our church.” Margaret’s
“Not this time. I want people to focus on the
birth of our Savior and the hope He gives for our
lives. Mom, in the past year, I have become more
appreciative of the upbringing you and Dad gave
Mike and me and how you shared your faith which
has now become mine.” Lucy choked back her tears
and touched the silver cross she always wore at her
“Those words are the best gift you could ever
give to me.” Margaret hugged her daughter. “I want
nothing more this season than to see you happy.”
Lucy hugged back tightly. “I’m working hard on
“Lucy!” Mike called from the break room. “I
thought you said you were following me in. I’m
making a mess of things trying to get the food set
“Ah, I better go rescue the food from Mike and
start the punch.” Lucy picked up the trays. “By the
way, it’s getting worse outside so could you suggest
to Dad that we better let everyone go home early.”
“I will, but right now, I want to lend you a
Lucy and Mike uncovered the trays of fruit,
cheese, and crackers. Margaret took her home baked
pastries from the refrigerator and arranged them on
top of doilies set on antique dessert plates. Mike
dumped plastic forks from the box into a basket and
then tore open the plates while Lucy poured the
punch into the bowl and added scoops of sherbet. “I
think we’re ready.”
Once everyone had gathered in the break room,
Harold asked one and all to join hands. Together
they asked for the Lord’s blessing. Then they dug in;
plates were quickly filled with condiments, the
routine appetizers, rolled pieces of meat, decorated
sugar cookies, and cinnamon rolls. That was just for
starters. Margaret kept laying out more and more
Lucy sat at the edge of her chair and sipped her
cup of punch. It was fun watching everyone enjoy
themselves. She closed her eyes and drank in their
laughter. This is what she needed, to be surrounded
by such love and acceptance.
The employees had all worked for her father for
years, so she not only knew their names but their
spouses and children. This is what she loved about
the business. It wasn’t work. It was family. At times
they even squabbled like it, too.
When there were only a few squares of
cantaloupe and crumbs of her mother’s cake left,
Lucy suggested, “Before we go home for the
weekend, let’s go around the room and name one gift
we want for Christmas. No limitations on the gift.
Miss Ulilla, would you like to start?”
The society column woman was clearly pleased
to go first. In her world, this was the correct order of
the universe and she didn’t even try to suppress her
smile. Instead she brushed crumbs from her bosom,
cleared her throat and stood to her feet. “Since Lucy
removed the limitations, what I really want for
Christmas are tickets for a Caribbean cruise under
my tree this year.”
“That’s sounds exciting. I feel pretty confident
you can talk Abe here into going along with you.”
Lucy gave the elderly custodian a wink. It was no
secret Abe had been after Ulilla for as long as she
could remember, but Ulilla always put him off.
Abe stepped right in without being asked, “The
gift I am wishing for is that I can buy those tickets
for Ulilla. One for her and one for me. Separate
cabins, of course.” He turned beet red.
After the laughter died down, Lucy went on to
ask her best friend, “What about you, Monica?”
“I’m hoping for money. Lots and lots of money.”
“Here I thought you’d ask for perfume. The
French kind,” Mike said. His lips curled into a
slow smile. For the first time, Lucy caught
something in the air between her best friend and her
brother and it wasn’t perfume. French or otherwise.
Harold set down his plastic plate with a hollow
thump. “The gift I want this year cannot be found
under my tree.”
“Harold.” Margaret touched his arm. “This isn’t
“I think it is, Maggie. After being a family
owned business for the last fifty years, first with my
Papa and now on my own, it’s no secret I want to
keep that other newspaper from coming here. Living
in a small town like Turtle Creek, we can’t
withstand the extra competition. Heck, we can
barely make it as it is. We need to come up with
some ideas of how we’re going to generate more
sales, increase our advertisers and get more
subscribers.” He pulled off his elf hat and lowered
his eyes. His thumb rubbed a finger as he spoke “Or
this might just be the last time we stand together
like this for Christmas.” To everyone’s dismay,
Harold had spit out his worrying words. They spread
across the room.
Lucy frowned. Everything her dad said was the
truth. They all knew it.
“My turn!” Lucy picked up her father’s hat and
pulled it down over her ears. Everyone laughed. “My
Christmas gift is to hire a new editor who will knock
the socks off our readers with his fresh ideas and
“And how will you know this editor when he
comes through the front door?” Carol from
“Because…” Lucy tapped her chin in thought.
“The man I have prayed for will write with heart.”
Unexpected tears gathered along the edges of her
eyes. The end of her nose tingled. “Anyone who can
move an audience with words is going to increase
circulation which will attract businesses to grab ad
space and make readers buy our paper.” She touched
her cross. I have my faith in you, Lord.
The front door jingled. Monica looked out into
the office. “Hey, guys, there’s an awesome looking
guy standing at the front counter. I believe Lucy’s
gift just arrived. Quick Lucy, say another prayer
while you have God’s attention.”
Lucy walked out of the break room with
shoulders squared, back straight. There he stood.
Tall, with sandy brown hair and wickedly wonderful
eyes. Cherry cheeks, too, thanks to the frosty
weather. His gray eyes were unsettling. He stood on
one foot and tapped one shoe against the other to
knock off the snow. Then he repeated the process
with the other shoe. Monica was right. He was a
“How may I help you?” Lucy folded her hands
together and placed them on the counter.
“I’m looking for Lucy Collins.” He stared her in
“You’ve found her.” Lucy heard laughter. She
turned around to see the doorway to the break room
was crowded with faces. All eyes were pinned on
them. Of course, she had to put on a good show for
them. Lucy turned back around and faced him.
Feeling cocky, she said, “I know why you’re here.”
“You do?” he seemed startled.
“Yes, you’re here about the ad I placed in this
week’s paper for an editor.”
His chin dropped and he was speechless for a
moment. “You’re…absolutely right. I did see it
advertised.” The man set his briefcase down and
popped it open. He started shuffling around the
inside of it. Papers rustled. Finally, he looked up
sheepishly. He had worried eyes. “I seem to have
forgotten my resume. Not a good way to start a job
interview. By the way, I’m Joe McNamara.”
Lucy shook his hand and then reached under
the counter for an application. She clamped it down
on a clipboard, slipped a pen underneath and
handed it to him. “I don’t need your resume but I do
need to know if you can write. When you’re done
filling this out, I want you to write an editorial for
me.” She slid a blank piece of paper toward him.
“On what subject?” he scratched the end of his
“You’re the editor so you get to decide.” She
slapped her hand down on the paper.
Joe nodded and then looked around for a place
to sit. He chose a chair from the waiting area. Lucy
watched him as he read the application and then
thoughtfully filled in the blanks. Every now and
then he looked up and caught her staring at him. He
smiled but she quickly looked away.
The Turtle Creek Newspaper employees began
to quickly leave. “Don’t stay too long, Lucy, or you’ll
be trapped in here for the weekend,” Abe warned her
on the way out. For the first time ever, Ulilla was on
“I won’t be much longer. I am dreaming of a cozy
fire with hot chocolate.”
“That’s only one of the things I’m dreaming of!”
Ulilla gushed as she plunged through the doorway.
Shocked over Ulilla’s sudden change of heart, Lucy
couldn’t help but stare.
Finally Joe stood to his feet and handed the
clipboard back to her, the pen returned to the same
position as when she had handed it to him. Now it
was Joe’s turn to slide the paper across the counter
to her. Lucy looked at it. Maybe she missed
something. She flipped it over. Both sides were
blank. She looked at Joe quizzically.
“May I?” he asked nodding toward one of the
“Be my guest.” Lucy granted permission and
then caught her reflection in a window. She quickly
pulled off the Santa hat. Static electricity popped
around her head like a lightening rod. She knew she
was blushing and really hoped he wouldn’t notice.
Lucy watched as his long fingers flew across the
keyboard. Her keyboard. The tips of the fingers hit
the center of the keys with great accuracy. Tap-tap tap
the keys sank and rose again. She was close
enough to see the words without her glasses and
didn’t see any red squiggly lines. At least the fella
“Psst!” Monica called from the break room.
Lucy turned around. “What?” she mouthed
With frantic movements, Monica motioned for
Lucy to come talk to her. When Lucy walked into the
room, everyone huddled around. “We need details.”
Lucy gave a deep sigh happy to oblige. “His
name is Joe McNamara. According to his
application, he’s from Chicago, so I guess he must be
relocating. He’s trying out for our paper by writing
an editorial for me.”
“Good idea,” Harold said while cramming the
last sugar cookie into his mouth.
“Why would he want to apply for a job with us?”
Mike asked suspiciously as he tied the top of a
plastic garbage bag closed.
“That’s easy to answer. We are the best
newspaper in the entire southern lakes region,”
Harold answered shooting bits of cookie from his
mouth like falling stars.
“Yea, right,” Mike panned as he tossed the bag
on top of the other bags.
“You have to start at a small paper and work
your way up to get into a big city paper,” Monica
explained as she slipped on her winter coat. Then
she winked at Mike. “He’s getting his start right
here with us.”
“Whoa, first I have to hire him, and once he
hears what the pay is, he may just hop back on the
“Finished,” a male voice spoke.
Everyone turned to look. Joe stood just feet
away, holding his paper out.
Lucy hoped he hadn’t heard everything. She
snatched the paper from him and furrowed her brow.
“That was fast.”
“Not when you have something burning inside
that you feel passionately about.”
She held it between her fingers and read aloud.
by Joseph McNamara
What will I ever do without Cafe Books?
Ever since the announcement that the
independent bookseller was going out of business,
I've been a mess. The big chain stores serve a
purpose, sure, but they don't contain the atmosphere
and warmth that emulates from the owners of Cafe
Books. When I walk into their shop, it's like visiting
family. Mr. and Mrs. Myers always greet me and
everyone, with a genuine smile, and when are they
not armed with a recommendation for a new title
they know I'll enjoy? Just for me. They notice me. Me.
Cafe Books is where I first went whale hunting
with Melville and frog collecting with Steinbeck. How
can I forget all the murderous adventures I shared
with my good friend, Mike Hammer, or faced a scary,
yet Brave New World with Huxley? I’ve read more
than books on the leather sofa at Cafe Books. I've
made friends. Lived a million different lives. Cried
countless tears. And have laughed out loud so often,
and so hard, that my stomach still aches from the
How does one say good bye to such a place?
I started patronizing Café Books just off Kenzie
Avenue in Chicago about two years ago. And so when
the owners announced suddenly it would be going out
of business and closing its door yesterday, I made it a
point to stop by.
The room was busy with faithful shoppers who
felt this place was a stabilizing source in their
community. Lexie Jacobson, a 28-year-old hairstylist
scooped up discount novels and a couple of CDs. “I’m
sure going to miss this place,” she said with a shake
of her head. She was not alone with this feeling.
“It’s hard to find bookstores that are not part of a
national chain,” 35-year-old school teacher
Samantha Jones said with a sigh.
The sentiment was expressed again and again by
dozens of patrons.
In the never ending search for bigger and better,
give me the small and unique. Meet me at Café
Books. Help me say goodbye.
No one spoke. Lucy couldn’t take her eyes from
the page. The words evoked warmth and sentiment.
It was more than she had hoped for. He was it. This
was her Christmas gift.
It wasn’t the first sight of him that did it. It
wasn’t the endearing way he drummed his thigh
with the pen when he was nervously trying to figure
out what to write down on his application that
formed her opinion. Nor even his calm manner as he
slid his fingers across her keyboard that made the
difference. It was his words. These words. They were
simple and brilliant. Words that had taken the
breath from her soul. She looked up at him with new
eyes. He got her—yet how could that happen when
they only met minutes ago.
“Wow,” she gulped.
“Well, it was spontaneous.” Joe uneasily tugged
at his collar. “If I had more time, I could have done
They smiled at each other as if there was more
to the words that hung in the air. Her mind was
wandering where it shouldn’t. “I need to clarify
“Clarify away, Ms. Collins.”
“Lucy,” he repeated in a sweet tone.
“Um, we can’t afford to pay you much. It’s
obvious you’re quite gifted so I’m not sure we’re what
you’re looking for in a newspaper.”
“The experience is what is valuable here.”
“How much notice do you need to give your old
place?” Harold stepped forward to ask. “The sooner
you can start the better.”
“Dad!” Lucy cut in as blood rushed to her face.
“Ah, my schedule is pretty well wide open, Sir. I
can start as soon as I’m needed, that is if I am hired.
I really don’t need much—a roof over my head
and...a new start.”
Lucy saw it in his eyes. He wasn’t kidding.
“You know, Harold, there is the small apartment
above our garage. Mr. McNamara could stay there
until he finds another place,” Margaret reminded
“I’ll take it,” Joe was quick to accept.
A gust of wind whipped through the building
when Monica opened the door. “Better get a move
on, people. I just heard on the radio that the
Interstate is closed down. The town is pretty well
socked in. It’s time for us to lock up and head for our
homes. I love you all but no way do I want to be
stuck in here with you.”
Everyone went for their coats.
“I better take you home, so I know you made it
safely,” Mike told Monica.
“If you shovel my walk too, there might be a
reward in it for you,” Monica winked as she nudged
his side with her elbow.
“I love rewards.”
“Mike, don’t be long. There are Christmas boxes
in the attic I need for you to get down for me,”
Margaret said following her son out to the parking
lot. “We’re decorating the tree tonight and you can’t
miss it.” She shut the door behind them.
“Ah, is there something you want me to sign? A
contract or something?” Joe asked, quickly looking
from Harold to Lucy.
“I never thought about a contract,” Lucy said,
wondering if they had anything the resembled a
“We don’t do contracts here. A shake of my hand
is how I operate.” Harold slid his arm down through
his winter jacket and out the opening. “You better
come along with us. You’ll never get back to the city
With a simple handshake, Lucy Collins’ day took
a new direction.
From the publisher:
Lucy Collins has given up on Christmas since the painful break-up with her fiance. Things only get worse when a large newspaper is about to come to town and threatens the livelihood of their family run business, The Turtle Creek Newspaper. At the staff Christmas party, she makes a wish and what seems like the answer to her prayer walks in the front door to apply for the editor position, which they are hoping will bring new life to the paper. Not only is Joe McNamara a genius when it comes to the written word, but he is also gifted with ideas about keeping the newspaper afloat. However, Joe has a secret of his own that he is keeping from Lucy. If she finds it out, then what looks like a promising relationship will unravel, but it's Christmas time, the season of rebirth and miracles. Will the spirit of celebration be enough to heal two hearts? Or will the reality of deception make this the worst Christmas of all?
This book was an enjoyable read. I loved how realistic Lucy was in terms of how she reacted situations. She was not presented as a "Miss Perfect", which made her easy to relate to as a character. Robin had me going with Joe. I couldn't decide how I felt about him. I guess that is part of what made me read on- so I could make up my mind.
Lucy and Joe's trips to the neighboring towns reminded me of when I visited Gaitlinburg, TN. I could just imagine all the deocrations in town along the streets. What nice memories. If you've ever lived in or visited a small town quite a few memories will flood your heart and mind.
There were some surprise twists in the story, which were quite refreshing. There were a few things that I wished had been fleshed out a bit more. Tht may just be the analyst in me! All in all, I enjoyed the book. Check it out if you want a good but easy read.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
My new friend has bestowed upon me an award. It is the PROXIMITY award.
What this award encompasses is as follows:
“This blog invests and believes in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”
I hardly feel deserving of it but thank you Lynn. It is much appreciated. You are much appreciated. So now I must choose eight other ladies to receive this award. Only eight is hard but I'm going to just choose. Know that if your name is not on this list, it doesn't mean you're not special to me.
I am not going to give descriptions because I want you to stop by and visit these ladies. I'm sure you'll want to stick around :) They are all blessings to me in their own special way. May they be a blessing to you as well. (And I cheated. I chose nine ladies. Shhh...don't tell)
Lelia at Write From the Heart
Pamela at In His Graces
Amy at In My Life
Jill at Titus24u
Angie at The Knightly News
Lisa at Behind The Eyes
Lea at Thee Shabby Olde Potting Shed
Laura at The Wellblog
Lee at PrayerGifts
Congrats to you all. Enjoy your award. Keep loving on others the way you all do.
Until next post.....be blessed.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Several months ago I submitted a devotional for publication in yearly anthology. I was not sure it would be accepted, but to my surprise it was. The payment was one copy of the book, which has one devotional for each day of the year. My mom and sister were so proud of me and happy for me that they ordered......a case! So today, the much anticipated box arrived. My case of Penned from the Heart XV is here.
When it arrived, I opened the box and gingerly took out one copy. I rubbed the cover, which has a beautiful picture of a sunset on it. Just fabulous. I wasn't sure where exactly my devotional was, so I just started reading. I read the note from the editor, Jana Carman. She was fabulous to work with. I then read the note from the publisher, Florence Biros. It was there I learned the list of contributing authors and the location of their devotionals was listed in the back.
With great anticipation, I flipped the book over, started with the last page and feverishly searched for my name. I found it! There was my name, Marietta (Mari) Taylor. After it was the biography I had submitted. I saw my devotional was on January 29. Wow, right in the beginning. I excitedly turned to that page. My first published piece of work. I almost cried. It's one thing to "know" it's going to be published for the first time. It's quite another to see your writing in actual print. Woohoo! I just closed my eyes and breathed in deeply.
My emotions were ones of excitement and humility. Really, who I am that God has allowed me to live a dream I've had since I was seven years old? I am truly humbled. What makes this even more amazing to me is something else that is going on in terms of my writing.
I recently submitted a query to a ministry that has a publishing arm. They expressed interest in the devotional book about which I queried . And... they wanted to know if I was interested in writing a second, complimentary book. I was and I am. So now I am in the midst of writing my first ever book proposals to be submitted by the middle of this month. I will know in January if a contract will be extended.
So, seeing my first work in print right in the midst of trying to move my writing forward was encouraging. God is so, so good. I had been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the book proposals. I feel like God had them arrive today to give me that little bit of encouragement. You know, "Hey, remember me, the God of the universe? I've got you. Just write the vision. Let me handle the rest."
All I can say is, I will. I will. I'll keep you posted on the book proposals. They are in God's hand and He is just so trustworthy. Whatever He chooses, I am okay with it. Again, I'm already humbled by what He has already allowed, so anything further is just, well, fabulous.
I pray you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving! And as always, be blessed as we start this Christmas season.