GrowingForChrist

Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

FIRST tour: "In the Midst of it All" by Tiffany L. Warren (review added 4-6-10)


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:

Tiffany L. Warren

and the book:

In the Midst of it All

Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (February 22, 2010)

***Special thanks to Miriam Parker – Associate Director, Online Marketing – at Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tiffany L. Warren, is an author, playwright, songwriter, mother and wife. Her debut novel What a Sista Should Do, was released in June of 2005 and has ministered to over 50,000 readers. Her second book, Farther than I Meant to Go, Longer than I Meant to Stay was a national bestseller. In 2006, Tiffany and her husband, Brent, founded Warren Productions and released their first gospel musical. What a Sista Should Do – The Stage Play debuted in Cleveland, OH at the famed Allen Theatre.

Tiffany is also the visionary behind the Faith and Fiction Fellowship tour. Presently, the authors have visited groups in Atlanta, Houston, New York, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Charlotte.

Tiffany’s third novel, The Bishop’s Daughter was released in January 2009. Tiffany resides in northern Texas with her husband Brent and their five children.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (February 22, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446195162
ISBN-13: 978-0446195164

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

To read the chapter, press the the button that says, “Browse Inside This Book”:

My Opinion:

This is one of those books that pulls you in because you have to know how it ends – I’m not saying it was a bad book – far from it. However, it isn’t in my usual genre of my reading repetoire, but I’m all for giving authors I’ve never heard of a chance especially if they are writing in the Christian market. I loved the title as it really summed of the book well – Zenovia (I really like this name) is truly in the midst of it all, sandwiched between a cultish church, her scizophrenic mother, friends who pull her toward the church and those that pull her away, and her subsequent ‘banning’.

At times I fel really bad for Zenovia and other times I was left thinking, “what were you thinking?” as some of her antics are common sense things but as a teen she doesn’t really have much common sense since she’s spent more of her life taking care of her mom. The book starts oddly enough, at the end of the story with Zenovia being woken by her husband with some news, then the reader is transported to Zenovia’s life as a (quickly) baptized member of the Brethern of the Sacrifice Church. Like me, you’ll probably find yourself rallying for Zenovia especially as she tries to find herself in the midst of it all.

I would caution though, Zenovia and her mother, have visions – either of things that will happen or has happened. When Zenovia starts going back to a different church she is seen as someone who has a power from the Lord. Since this is a story then the author did indeed make all of Zenovia’s vision turn out for the good or bad that they were supposed to. I did enjoy this book, even if I was leery at first, and I would suggest it to friends that need something they can delve into it and enjoy it.

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**UPDATED 4/19/10** FIRST tour: "Storylines: Your Map to Understanding the Bible" by Andy Croft and Mike Pilavachi


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:
Mike Pilavachi

and

Andy Croft

and the book:

Storylines: Your Map to Understanding the Bible

David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings – Senior Media Specialist – of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Mike Pilavachi is the founder and public face of the U.K.’s biggest Christian youth event, Soul Survivor (25,000 annual attendance), and senior pastor of the Soul Survivor church in Watford, North London. He is the author of Live the Life, For the Audience of One, Wasteland?: Encountering God in the Desert, and Worship, Evangelism, Justice.

Visit the Mike’s MySpace.

Andy Croft is a young twenty-something who has just been awarded a First Class Theology degree from Cambridge University. He is due to be the next leader of Soul Survivor.

Visit the authors’ Website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434764753
ISBN-13: 978-1434764751

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The Jesus Storyline

Years ago, when I was in my teens and Mike was having his first midlife crisis, a series of very popular picture books came out. Perhaps you remember them: They were called Where’s Waldo? The basic idea was you would look at a big picture that would tell a story; there’d be loads of characters in it and tons of stuff going on. Waldo (a little bloke in a red-and-white shirt) was hiding somewhere in the picture. Sometimes he’d be up a tree, sometimes under water, sometimes he’d be in a massive crowd, often he’d be peering out from behind a corner, and almost always he’d be hidden from plain view. The challenge was to find him hidden in the story the picture told.

Two thousand years ago Jesus said to a bunch of Pharisees, “Where’s Waldo?” But he said it like this, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.

These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39–40). Jesus wasn’t talking about the New Testament, because his biography hadn’t been written yet, so he must have been talking about the Old Testament. But how could he have been? Everyone knows the Old Testament was about Israel and Moses, David, Abraham, Joshua, and others. Did Jesus get this one wrong? Had he eaten a rotten fig for breakfast? Or …have we all been missing something? Could it be possible that, like Waldo in the picture books, Jesus appears hidden all over the Old Testament?

You probably already know that Jesus is all over the Bible; in the Old Testament he’s concealed, in the New Testament he’s revealed. Finding Jesus in the Old Testament is not just a game, like finding Waldo. It’s more like a treasure hunt, and it brings the story of God to life in a whole new way. Throughout the Old Testament we see strong hints, images, and prophecies about Jesus. In the New Testament those hints, images, and prophecies are unveiled; the curtain is ripped apart, from top to bottom, to reveal the star of the whole show. Let’s go on a journey together to find Jesus in the crowd of Old Testament heroes.

Noah

The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. (Gen. 6:5–8)

The human race was so messed up there was no way to straighten it out. God decided to bring a flood and wipe out every creature. There was just one problem. Noah.

Noah and God were friends, and Noah was a righteous man. To destroy every living creature would have meant the unjust of killing his friend. God longed to save Noah, and so he commanded him to build a massive ark. We’ve been to the Middle East, and in case you hadn’t realized, it’s a desert! Despite how stupid he looked, Noah obeyed God to the point of humiliation. But it meant that, when the rains hit, Noah was saved. What’s more, his whole family came with him. Why was Noah’s family saved? Were they righteous? No. Noah

was the only righteous one around, but because they were attached to him, his family got to come along!

The first hero of the Old Testament is our first signpost to Jesus. The flood didn’t solve the problem of humanity’s wickedness. God’s righteous judgment is still that humanity deserves to die in its wickedness and be cut off from him forever. However, God has found one totally righteous man, even more righteous than Noah. This righteous man obeyed God to the point of utter humiliation, dying on a cross. What’s more, all the unrighteous people who attach themselves to him are saved. After the flood a rainbow was the sign of God’s promises; today it is the cross. All who shelter in Jesus, the ark of salvation, are not wiped out but given eternal life. Sometimes when we read about the cross, it can seem mysterious—something that’s difficult to get our heads around. Discovering things like this throughout the Old Testament on one level helps us to understand it better—the patterns of salvation often reoccur. But on another level it speaks of the wonder and increases the mystery. Thousands of years before the birth of Jesus, God was carefully laying out the foundations for his master plan …

Abraham and Isaac

Several chapters later in Genesis, we come across a strange scene. In Genesis 22 we find an old man holding a knife over the chest of a young boy he’s about to sacrifice. Years ago God had promised the old man that he would have a son, and after an age of waiting, Isaac was born. The baby became a boy, and Abraham loved him dearly. It was at that point God said to Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about” (Gen. 22:2).

How could God command someone to sacrifice his own son? And yet—“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son …” (John 3:16). The words of John, describing God’s giving of his beloved Son, deliberately echo those of Genesis 22:2. God asked no more of Abraham than God himself was willing to give. God gave up his only Son, whom he loved, completely out of choice and love for us.

The old man obeyed God: “Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey” (Gen. 22:3). Father, son, and donkey headed to the region of Moriah. When Mike and I visited Israel, we were amazed to discover that the region of Moriah is where, hundreds of years after Abraham, Jerusalem was built! And so when we read about Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on a donkey, we’re reading about another father, another son, and another donkey riding into

exactly the same area Abraham had been told to head to. In little, subtle ways—ways that we wouldn’t notice unless we looked for them—God is laying down hints in the Old Testament of the plans he has for his Son in the New Testament.

When Abraham and Isaac arrived, we read that the father placed the wood for the sacrifice on the back of his son: “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife” (Gen. 22:6). Isaac then carried the wood for his own sacrifice up a hill in the region of Moriah. Isn’t this amazing? Centuries later,the Father placed the cross, the wood for the sacrifice, on the back of his Son. Jesus then carried the wood for his own sacrifice up a hill in the region of Moriah.

Upon reaching the top of the hill, Isaac said to Abraham, “The fire and wood are here … but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Gen. 22: 7). “Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son’” (Gen. 22:8). Abraham then tied his son to the wood and was about to kill him when the Lord cried for him to stop. God told Abraham to sacrifice a ram he saw caught in a hedge. Rejoicing, Abraham took it and sacrificed it in the place of his son. “So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided’”(Gen. 22:14). Two thousand years later

on a mountain in the region of Moriah, the Lord did provide. He provided not a ram but a lamb for the offering … the Lamb of God. He is “my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). This provision of Jesus for us was something God had planned and intended from the beginning, before any of us were born. The storyline of Jesus running through the life of Abraham and Isaac shows us that even before most of the people in the Old Testament had been born, God knew what was going to happen, and he knew what it was going to cost him. He knew what you were going to cost—and then he went ahead anyway.

Joseph

So we move on to Joseph. Jesus is everywhere in his story. God’s plan from the beginning, revealed to Joseph in his dreams (Gen. 37), was that he would achieve a high status and bring blessing and salvation to many others through that ruling status. Jesus was born to rule. He

was born to be King, and because of his kingship many would find salvation.

Joseph’s brothers became jealous and did what many of us want to do with our siblings: They sold him into slavery. Joseph was sold to merchants for twenty pieces of silver. Years later Jesus was sold to the Jewish leaders for thirty pieces of silver. Just think—if only it had been the same price, it would have been a perfect parallel … what a shame … But wait! The Bible tells us that Joseph was sold for the going price of a slave in 1900 BC and Jesus for the going price of a

slave in AD 30. The price had gone up, but God had accounted for inflation!

Joseph was eventually sold to Potiphar, a high official in Egypt, and soon became his right-hand man. Mrs. Potiphar tried to seduce Joseph. She was very subtle—“Come to bed with me!” she begged. “No way, José!” Joseph replied, and when Mrs. Potiphar came in one door, he ran out the other. Jesus was tempted in the desert by the Devil. The Devil offered him all the kingdoms of the world if only Jesus would bow down and worship him. In response to the Devil’s seduction, Jesus said, “Get lost!” (or words to that effect). By not sleeping with Potiphar’s wife, Joseph resisted abusing the power his master had given him; by not “getting into bed” with the Devil, Jesus refused to abuse the power God had given him.

Mrs. Potiphar accused Joseph of a crime he did not commit. He was unjustly sentenced and thrown into the deepest dungeon. Jesus, years later, was accused of crimes he did not commit and was unjustly sentenced. While Joseph was serving his sentence, two criminals came to join him. Years later, while Jesus was serving his sentence on the cross, two criminals joined him. You can read in Genesis 40 about how Joseph, through the interpretation of a dream, spoke words of life to one of those criminals. Joseph promised he would be saved, and the criminal was later released. You can also read in Luke 23 about how, as he was dying between two criminals, Jesus spoke words of life to one. Jesus promised he would be saved, and we can be sure that criminal is now with Jesus in paradise.

Joseph was eventually released from prison. From the lowest pits of jail, he became Pharaoh’s prime minister, the highest position in Egypt. He named his second son Ephraim (meaning “fruitful”) and said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Gen. 41:52). Egypt was an alien land that was not his home. When God became man, he was born into an alien land that was not his home, and yet it was in this land of suffering that God made Jesus fruitful. He was raised up from the lowest point—death—and is now seated at the right hand of God.

Famine struck the whole area, and Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy food. They were reunited with Joseph, the brother they’d sold into a life of slavery. Instead of having them killed, Joseph forgave them, assuring them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20). He went on to save the lives of all his brothers, of those who had sinned against him. He brought them from a place of famine and death to one of abundant life.

The Jewish religious leaders, Pilate, and the Roman soldiers—as our representatives—accomplished what they intended in harming Jesus to the point of death on the cross. Jesus, as he was dying, cried out, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). We, the human race, meant the death of Jesus for harm, but God meant it for good. He intended it to accomplish what is now being fulfilled, a passage from certain death to abundant life, the saving of many lives.

Isn’t this incredible? Joseph was born to be a ruler, he was sold into slavery, he was severely tempted, he went through great suffering, he predicted the salvation of one he suffered with, he was raised up again by God, he forgave those who’d sinned against him, and he declared it had happened that many might be saved.

Jesus’ storyline is central to the story of the Bible, and it runs like a bullet through the story of Joseph. This is more than just an amazing biblical parallel—it carries with it a message for us today. Ever felt insecure about God’s love? Ever been a little unsure as to whether or not he’ll bring about what he’s promised? Ever messed it up and thought, “It’s been one too many; God’s probably going to quit on me this time”? We can draw deep confidence from the fact that God planned his death on the cross. The way that Joseph’s life prophesies Jesus’ shows in an incredible way that God always thought we were going to be worth it—his decision to come to earth wasn’t a last-minute afterthought. John’s gospel tells us that Jesus is from “the beginning,” and Joseph’s story backs that up—he is from the beginning, and he was always going to bring about the ending. This picture is yet another guarantee to our hearts of the love God has—and has always had—for us.

Moses

Hundreds of years later the descendants of Joseph and his brothers had undergone a population explosion. They were now the people of Israel and were being used and abused as slaves by the Egyptians.

God heard the cry of those he loved, now slaves to Pharaoh, and through Moses he set out to do something about it. We read that, at the start of Exodus (chapter 3), the Lord revealed himself to Moses and commanded him to go and save the Israelites. Before he went anywhere, Moses wanted to know who this burning bush of a God was: “Who shall I say has sent me?” he asked. God replied, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Ex. 3:14). God’s name was “I AM.”

Also, Moses was understandably a bit nervous about taking on Egypt single-handedly, and he asked God, “Who am I, that I should go?” This time God ignored his question. He didn’t say “You’re Moses, kung fu champion!” He just replied, “I will be with you” (Ex. 3:12). The only thing Moses needed to know on this account was that God had his back.

So God’s rescue operation for a people who were suffering as slaves involved one man. The reason this one man was going to save anyone was because God was with him. Who was this God that was with him? I AM.

Hundreds of years later God again heard the cry of those he loved who were slaves to sin, and through Jesus he set out to do something about it. Moses had asked the God of the burning

bush who he was. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Who do you think you are?” (John 8:53). Amazingly Jesus said in response, “‘Before Abraham was born, I am!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him …” (8:58–59). Some of the Jews responded with outrage; they wanted to kill Jesus. Why? Because he was claiming to be God. When they asked him who he was, he told them he was I AM. The God I AM went with Moses to save a people; the God I AM came in

person to save a world. One of Jesus’ titles is Emmanuel. It means “God with us.”

Moses confronted the evil powers of Egypt, defeated them—and Pharaoh released Israel. They started the hike out of Egypt, but before long Pharaoh changed his mind; he sent everything he had after them. If we pick up the trail in Exodus 14, we find Israel trapped. In front of them lay the Red Sea, and behind them the Egyptian army was closing in. They had no options. Then God told Moses to raise his staff out over the waves of the Red Sea. Moses obeyed, and the waters parted. Through Moses’ actions a way to freedom and life opened up—Israel now had one option! They passed through the waters and passed from death to life.

In front of all of us lies death; in and around all of us is the evil of this age. Do we have any options? Miraculously God provided an option for all who are trapped. Jesus defeated the evil power of this age (Satan); he conquered sin and death. Through Jesus’ actions a way to freedom and life has opened up. We now have one option! In following Jesus we can be saved. Like the Israelites following Moses, on our journey we, too, pass through water in our crossing from

death to life: “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5). Ours is the water of baptism.

Moses’ and Israel’s hike through the wilderness went on for years and years. Mike and I recently went hiking down the Grand Canyon. It lasted for hours rather than years. Still, when we walked through the Grand Canyon, it was baking hot and hard work. After an hour or so, Mike started to moan … “I’m thirsty, I want some water!” He’s Greek, so he tends to exaggerate, and he started to whine, “This is the end, I’m going to die!” Throughout the hike down, Mike complained, moaned, and whined at me. First he wanted water. Then he wanted food. After he’d eaten five PowerBars, he wanted a different sort of food … and so it went …

Moses was in a similar situation in the desert with Israel. They moaned, they whined, they groaned, and they rebelled. If we pick up the story in Exodus 32, we read that the people of Israel had just built themselves another god! Despite all God’s amazing miracles they still mutinied and wanted to worship gods of their own hands. When Moses discovered this, he exclaimed in horror, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make

atonement for your sin” (Ex. 32:30).

Earlier, God, knowing what the people of Israel were up to, said to Moses, “Leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation” (Ex. 32:10).

What an offer! God told Moses to get out of the way; he was going to destroy Israel and start again with Moses’ own children. Moses had a chance to get rid of the nation that had been a pain in his backside ever since leaving Egypt, and to start his own dynasty! There were moments when, had God appeared to me at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and offered to kill Mike, I would have replied, “Brilliant idea, Lord! In fact I’ll help you!”

Moses didn’t respond like that. He didn’t ask for a machine gun. Instead, after seeing Israel’s sin, he said this: “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written” (Ex. 32:31–32).

Astonishing! Instead of offering to help God wipe out Israel, Moses asked to be wiped out in their place! God refused Moses’ offer. He had another plan. Moses’ offer was well meant, but he didn’t realize he didn’t have the right qualifications. God didn’t blot Moses out for the sake of Israel’s sin. He already had someone else in mind. About 1,400 years later it was the life of Jesus, not the life of Moses, that was blotted out to make up for sin.

Sometimes the Bible can seem a little disjointed—we can read one story and wonder if it’s got anything at all to do with the one we were reading the week before. Jesus is the center and the heart of the Bible; again here we see how the life and actions of Moses point forward to who Jesus is and what he was coming to do.

[Note: Mike would like it to be known that he was not allowed to contribute to this section, and in fact disassociates himself from the accuracy of the illustration used above … I, however, insist it’s true, and I’ve got the emotional scars to prove it.]

David

David was born in the small town of Bethlehem. Samuel the prophet declared he was chosen by God to be king of Israel. When Samuel poured the oil onto David, God anointed him for this task. Soon afterward David fought the great battle with Goliath. We find the site of the battle in 1 Samuel 17. The people of Israel were lined up against their archenemies, the Philistines. The huge Philistine champion would daily shout to all the Israelite soldiers, “C’mon then, if you think you’re tough enough!” None of Israel’s soldiers thought they were tough enough, and no one would go and fight Goliath. This went on for weeks until David the shepherd boy arrived and volunteered. He went out alone to face the enemy as the representative of his people, Israel. David won a great victory without using the weapons of the world—he refused to wear a sword or armor. Instead he used a sling, the weapon of a shepherd boy, and it was in this apparent weakness that he defeated Goliath. David declared, “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s …” (1 Sam. 17:47).

Jesus was born in the same small town of Bethlehem. At Jesus’ baptism John the Baptist declared that Jesus had been chosen by God to be the Savior of the world, and the Holy Spirit was poured out on him (Luke 3:22)—Jesus was spiritually anointed for his task. Having been prepared in this way, Jesus faced the Enemy of the human race, Satan. He entered the battlefield of the desert where he encountered and withstood Satan for forty days. Three years later he went alone to the cross as the representative of the whole world. He won the victory over Satan without using the weapons of the world. Instead Jesus, the Good Shepherd, won the victory in

the weakness of the cross; it was not to be by sword or spear that the Lord would save but by laying down his life for the sheep.

David was anointed to be king of Israel. Jesus, the Christ (which means “the anointed one”), was called “The King of the Jews” at his crucifixion. Jesus was also called “the Son of David,” and people expected the Messiah to be like David. Many expected a David-type military leader who would arrive to kick the Romans’ heads in. Jesus was like David, but not in the ways that were expected.

Of all David’s psalms, Psalm 23 is the most well known, but the psalm that comes immediately before it is an incredible prophecy about the death of Jesus. It is one of the so-called “messianic

psalms” (because it points ahead to the Messiah), and it begins with “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus knew his Scriptures, and so when he cried these words on the cross, he knew he was quoting from Psalm 22. Before we go on to look at this psalm further, we suggest you put this book down, open your Bible, and read Psalm 22 for yourself. Where do you see Jesus in this psalm?

Now let’s look together:

The psalm that begins with the words “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” continues with many other striking references to Jesus on the cross.

David says, “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him’” (22:6–8). The cries of scorn heaped on Jesus by those present at the crucifixion are almost identical:

In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (Matt. 27:41–43)

The psalm continues, “From my mother’s womb you have been my God” (Ps. 22:10). If anyone could say those words with more integrity than David, it was the son of Mary. The psalmist goes on, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death” (22:15). The phrase “my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth” is simply another way of saying “I’m thirsty.” Jesus said on the cross, “I am thirsty” (John 19:28).

The next verse is translated, “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet” (Ps. 22:16). David wrote these words hundreds of years before the Roman punishment of crucifixion had even been invented.…

He continues, “They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing” (22:18). Luke tells us that at the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion “… they divided up his clothes by casting lots” (Luke 23:34).

Psalm 22:22 says, “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.” The stunning thing about this verse is that the writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament tells us that Jesus said it too: “So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, ‘I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises’” (Heb. 2:11–12).

Perhaps most amazing of all, the psalm that started with the words that began Jesus’ crucifixion—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”—ends with these five words: “for he has done it” (Ps. 22:31). Only Jesus was able to put these five words into the first person: “It is finished” (John 19:30). For he has done it—it is finished.

How amazing that David, without knowing it, should have written these words for the “Son of David,” his Lord, to speak on the cross a thousand years later!

~~~~~~~~

We have listed just a few of the references to Jesus in the Old Testament. There are many others. We encourage you to go on a treasure hunt of your own! None of this is to say that the stories in

the Old Testament don’t have a power, force, and meaning of their own—they do very much! In this chapter, however, we are only interested in tracing the storyline of Jesus through the Old Testament. It’s like going to an IMAX cinema and being given special 3–D goggles when you go in. Try watching the screen without the goggles, and the pictures are there—though slightly blurred. Once you’ve put on the 3–D goggles, there’s suddenly a whole new, sharp, remarkable

dimension that comes into view. We’ve just watched some events of the lives of only a few of the characters of the Old Testament—Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, and David—wearing our 3–D goggles; even with only this brief snapshot, some of what was concealed has been revealed. What we need to remember is that this isn’t just a clever joining of dots to make neat parallels—this is rich and glorious truth. It’s the plan of salvation for our lives laid out through the lives of the Old Testament heroes. It’s part of the mystery and wonder of God that he was able to weave the story of Jesus into the lives of his most faithful followers in the Old Testament in such an incredible way. In the same way, he is weaving the story of Jesus into our lives and our individual stories.

The Messianic Prophecies

There are also over three hundred prophecies in the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. As we said at the beginning of this chapter, Jesus identified himself in the Old Testament when he said to the Pharisees, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39–40).

At the end of the chapter, we’ve listed tons of the messianic prophecies, and we hope you’ll take the time to open your Bible and discover more of them. But for now, we’d like to look at one of

the most significant passages, found in Isaiah 53. Before this chapter Isaiah has been talking about the plight of Israel, how they have turned from their God, worshipped idols, and broken his laws by acting unjustly toward one another. The book of Isaiah begins before the exile in Babylon and then continues during the exile. Isaiah begins to speak hope to a hopeless people. He declares that God has not given up on his people and describes the coming of an anointed

one, a Messiah who will bring salvation to Israel. In chapter 53 this Messiah is described in detail. We again urge you, put down this book, open the Bible to Isaiah 53, and read it. Too much explanation of this chapter is unnecessary; it speaks clearly for itself.

In Isaiah 53:2 we notice that when God came to earth, he didn’t look like Brad Pitt. We are also told the coming king would be “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (53:3). This is key, as many of the Jews were expecting a victorious and powerful leader. Verse 6 lays out the sin for which the servant of God would die, the sin of human beings choosing their own way instead of God’s. This verse reminds us that the heart of sin is going astray, choosing to live

independently from him; the choice made by Adam and Eve. Verse 7 speaks of the fact that when Jesus, the Lamb of God, was brought before his accusers, he did not defend himself. Jesus himself even quotes verse 12 at the Last Supper in Luke 22:37: “It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” Isaiah 53 was fulfilled hundreds of years later when Jesus, dying on the cross, “bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (53:12).

We began this chapter by saying that Jesus is concealed in the Old Testament and revealed in the New. The fact is that Jesus hasn’t been concealed very well—we’ve looked at only a few examples, yet pictures and prophecies of Jesus are all over the place!

What does all this tell us? First, Jesus Christ is the central character of the whole Bible. He does not just appear in the last scene. The person of Jesus is, if you like, the glue that holds the whole Bible together. Secondly, this tells us that Jesus was not Plan B. His birth, life, death, and resurrection were written into the script from the very beginning. Our sin and rebellion did not take God by surprise, and Father, Son, and Holy Spirit did not need to have an emergency

cabinet meeting in heaven to work out the rescue plan. Before creation began, God knew that he would have to become part of, and suffer with, his creation. (Take a look at Revelation 13:8.)

A wise couple counts the cost before deciding to have a baby. There is the possibility of several months of vomiting followed by hours of agony for one partner. Then years of sleepless nights for both, followed by the expenditure of ridiculous amounts of money on toys, school uniforms, etc. Then more sleepless nights as they wonder where the teenage offspring are at 2:00 a.m. and even more expenditure if they try and send them to college.

A couple who has counted the cost of all this, but who has decided to love deeply and with commitment, decides to pay the price. God counted the cost and decided to pay the price. From the beginning he said we were worth it. From the beginning he said you were worth it. The whole of the Bible, the Word of God, is a revelation of Jesus, the Word made flesh.

A few years ago a friend of ours proposed to his girlfriend. He went all out. The day before the proposal he went into the countryside and laid an elaborate trail of messages. It began with a note hidden in the branch of a tree. The note was a love letter but also directions and clues as to where the next note was. She soon found, under a rock, another love letter with a clue as to where the next was hidden. Then there was another, inside a bottle concealed by a hedge. This went on for hours until she came to the final love letter. With this love letter, buried in the earth, was a box. When she opened the box, she saw the engagement ring, and he was already kneeling. The fact that he had gone to such a huge effort and carefully laid this elaborate trail was all to show her just how much he desired and loved her. Most women will never forget their wedding day; this woman will never forget the day he proposed. It was spectacular. He planned it down to the last detail; he left the clues everywhere, and it meant the world to her.

In the same way, we, as the bride of Christ (and we know this can seem corny), should be rejoicing and know ourselves to be much loved because our God has laid the paper trail throughout the Old Testament. He has hidden the clues of his love and amazing salvation.

It is our prayer that as you’ve read this chapter you have gone on a journey of discovery, not simply of Jesus, but of how deep God’s love is for us—of how he loved you before you were even conceived.

Jesus Storyline Paperchase:

– John 5:39–40 (Jesus asks, “Where’s Waldo?”)

Pictures in the lives of the Old Testament characters

– Genesis 6–9 (Noah)

– Genesis 22 (Abraham and Isaac)

– Genesis 37–50 (Joseph)

– Exodus 3, 14, 32 (Moses)

– 1 Samuel 17; Psalm 22 (David)

Messianic prophecies

As we said before, there are over three hundred prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the New Testament. To help you get started discovering the Jesus storyline throughout Scripture, we’ve listed a few of them for you, and we pray that God will reveal wonderful things to you as you study!

1. The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem

Micah 5:2–5a

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace.

2. He will be King

Isaiah 9:6–7

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Daniel 7:13–14

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was

given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

3. He will be a descendant of David/family lineage

2 Samuel 7:12–16

When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the

one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

Psalm 132:11

The LORD swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke: “One of your own descendants I will place on your throne …”

Jeremiah 23:5–6

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our

Righteousness”

Jeremiah 33:15

In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.

Isaiah 11:1

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

Numbers 24:17

I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.

4. He will be born of a virgin

Isaiah 7:14

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

5. He will be a priest

Zechariah 6:11–13

Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.”

Psalm 110:4

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

6. He will be Lord

Psalm 110:1

The LORD says to my LORD: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

7. He will be God

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Jeremiah 23:6

This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.

8. He will bring salvation

Isaiah 49:6

He says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

9. He will atone for sins

Isaiah 53:4–6

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for

our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:7–8

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

Isaiah 53:10–12

Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.

For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

10. He will heal the sick/preach the good news

Isaiah 61:1 (and whole chapter)

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners …

Isaiah 35:5–6

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.

11. He will teach in parables

Psalm 78:2

I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old …

12. He will be a light to the Gentiles

Isaiah 42:6

I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles …

Isaiah 49:6

I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.

13. He will enter Jerusalem riding a donkey

Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of

a donkey.

14. He will be rejected/mocked/suffer and die

Isaiah 53:1–3 (and verses 4–12)

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Psalm 118:22

The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.

Psalm 22:7–8

All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

15. His enemies will pierce his hands and feet, divide his clothes among themselves, and cast dice for his garments; and he will be served by future generations

Psalm 22:16–18

Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments

among them and cast lots for my clothing.

Psalm 22:30

Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.

16. He will be betrayed by a friend

Psalm 41:9

Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.

17. He will be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver

Zechariah 11:12

I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.

18. The thirty pieces of silver will be thrown to the potter.

Zechariah 11:13

And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome

price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver

and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter.

19. He will be beaten, mocked, and spat upon

Isaiah 50:6

I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.

20. His bones will not be broken

Psalm 34:19–20

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

21. His side will be pierced

Zechariah 12:10

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him

as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

22. He will be raised from the dead

Isaiah 53:8–12

By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Psalm 16:10

… because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

Psalm 49:15

But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.

23. He will ascend to heaven

Psalm 68:18

When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious—that you, O LORD God, might dwell there.

Discussion Questions:

• Are you surprised at the extent to which the Old Testament points to Jesus? If so, why? If not, then why aren’t you?

• What does this tell us about the way that the Old Testament links to the New Testament?

• What practical relevance does this knowledge—that Jesus’ life was foretold in so many miraculous ways—have?

©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Storylines by Andy Croft and Mike Pilavachi. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

My Opinion:

This book is a great one to have on your shelf especially if you like to understand how the Bible follows along through out the lives of all the matriarchs and patriarchs along with the timelines and “storylines” then this book is what you need! Reading the Bible (especially if you want to read the whole Bible) can be initmidating and overwhelming, even if your a mature Christian and trying to figure out how and why it all happened can be even more daunting.

Andy Croft and Mike Pilavachi want to take some of that uncertainness and show people that reading the Bible can be fun, yes fun and of course a better way of understanding and getting to know our Lord Jesus Christ. They have outlined six themes that are throughout the Bible and once you understand these themes grasping the Bible will become easier and once that becomes easier, following what God put in the Bible will be easier. There is no comprimising of Scripture in this book, at least not from my understanding so it’s safe to read by all denominations – in my humble opinion. I especially liked at the end the authors even tell the reader to make sure to intrepret Scripture with Scripture, since verses can be easily taken out of context (look at some of the popular televangelists today) reading with other Scripture will give us better understand of how Scripture should be lived out.

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Gigi’s Hugest Announcement (DVD)



About the DVD from the Thomas Nelson’s reviewer site:

The Royal Tea Party finds Gigi with a dilemma. She has important news to share with her best friend, Frances, but how best to make such a grand announcement? This slice-of-life peek into the life of God’s little princess reinforces the vital message that each child is royally important to God.

In The Pink Ballerina, Gigi and Frances take their first dance lesson. With reluctant practice and awkward help from Tiara (her new dog) and Lord Fluffy (her not-so-cooperative cat), Gigi struggles to dance perfectly to make God proud of her. But she unexpectedly learns that God is most proud when we show love to others.

My Opinion:

My girls were thrilled to get this DVD from Thomas Nelson – they really enjoy the God’s Little Princess items from Sheila Walsh so this was sort of like icing on the cake. Pink and frilly Gigi is God’s little princess and wants to share the news with her friend and neighbor but things keep falling apart. She is finally able to do what she knows God would want her to do. In the second title Gigi leans about God wanting us to show love to others.

I’ll admit I was a bit bored with this movie but my girls were very much into it – par for the course in this house. I will say neither I, my husband or my oldest daughter thought the use of lord toward Gigi’s cat was correct – considering the nature of the DVD – God. This did lead to us discussing the fact that we don’t call others lords and there is only one Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ, even though Sarah did call Abraham lord in the Old Testament.

Overall, I thought this was a neat way to introduce children to aspects of the Bible, I did think my 8 year old was a bit old for it but my 5 1/2 year old enjoyed it. The DVD sells for $14.99 and can be purchased at Thomas Nelson’s website.

**I was given a copy of this DVD from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review, no other compensation was given.

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FIRST tour: Camp Club Girls #3 "McKenzie’s Montant Mystery" by Shari Barr


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:
Shari Barr

and the book:

McKenzie’s Montana Mystery (Camp Club Girls 3)

Barbour Books (March 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Shari Barr lives on a farm in southwest Iowa with her husband and teenage son and daughter. She writes inspirational fiction as a mission to spread the gospel while creating Christian role models for children. She has also published two non-fiction books as well as numerous articles for adults.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $5.97
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602602697
ISBN-13: 978-1602602694

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

A Surprise for McKenzie!

Chapter 1

Aaaaaahhhh!

McKenzie screamed and clutched the reins with sweaty palms. She tugged firmly, trying to control her horse.

Please, God, help me, she prayed as Sahara bolted down the arena.

McKenzie’s heart pounded and her auburn hair whipped behind her.

Something’s wrong! she thought.

She leaned forward and pulled the reins with all her strength. The tightness she usually felt in the reins was missing. She had no control over her horse! Sahara raced straight toward the barrel in the middle of the arena.

“McKenzie!” a voice screamed from the sidelines. “Hold on.”

The reins slipped between her fingers. McKenzie started to slide from the saddle. She grasped the saddle horn, but Sahara’s galloping bounced her up and down until she could hold on no longer.

McKenzie hit the ground with a thud as thundering hooves barely missed her. She laid with her face on the ground. Sahara raced by and finally slowed to a trot.

“McKenzie! Are you okay?” A pair of cowboy boots appeared in front of her face.

Rolling over, McKenzie pushed herself into a sitting position. She coughed from the dust Sahara had stirred up and looked into the eyes of Emma Wilson, her riding instructor. “I-I don’t know yet,” she stammered as she stretched her legs.

She felt a strong hand support the back of her head. Turning, she saw Emma’s hired hand, Derek, holding up two fingers. “How many?” he asked.

“Four,” McKenzie answered.

Emma and Derek stared at her. No one said anything for a minute.

“But two fingers are bent over,” she added.

After a second, Derek’s face broke into a grin. He unbuckled her riding helmet and slipped it off her head.

“She’s okay,” a familiar voice announced. The girl with a fringe of black

bangs fluttering on her olive skin popped a red gummy worm into her mouth.

“Bailey! What are you doing here?” McKenzie screeched as the girl approached her. “Hey, can I have one of those?”

“Yep, she’s definitely okay,” Bailey said as she dangled a green and orange worm in front of McKenzie.

McKenzie grabbed the worm and pulled her legs forward, trying to stand up. But Emma placed a firm hand on her shoulder. “Not so fast. Sit for a minute.”

“What happened anyway?” McKenzie watched as her horse sauntered back across the arena and nuzzled her face. “I had no control over Sahara. I just couldn’t hold on.”

Derek reached his hand out to the chocolate brown mare. “Here’s the problem,” he said as his fingers touched a dangling strap. “Her bridle is broken.”

McKenzie tried again to stand. Emma and Derek each put a hand beneath her arms and helped her to her feet. Feeling slightly light-headed, she stepped forward and grabbed Bailey in a tight hug.

“So, how did you get here?” McKenzie asked.

“When you told me you were coming to Sunshine Stables to train for the rodeo and help with Kids’ Camp, I convinced Mom and Dad to let me fly out with Uncle Troy on a business trip. He rented a car and drove me out from the airport. He didn’t have time to stick around, so he’s gone already.”

“Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?” McKenzie asked.

“Well, I signed up for the camp, since I’m not that good on horses. When Miss Wilson found out we were friends, she invited me to stay here, but she wanted to surprise you. Then after camp, she’s going to train both of us for the rodeo.” Bailey’s dark eyes flashed.

“Oh, Emma, this is the best surprise ever!” McKenzie turned to her instructor.

“Think of it as a thank-you for coming to Kids’ Camp on such short notice,” Emma said with a smile. “I didn’t expect so many kids to sign up. You’ll be a big help with the younger ones. But, let’s get you up to the house to sit for a minute. If you can walk, that is.”

“I’m fine,” McKenzie assured Emma as she brushed dirt from her face with the sleeve of her t-shirt. “I’d better take care of Sahara first, though.”

“I’ll do that,” Derek said as he grabbed Sahara’s halter. “I’ll take her to the stable and find her a new bridle. You go on to the house.”

Emma and the girls walked to the large, white farmhouse. A sign reading “Sunshine Stables” stood in the front yard. Several sheds and a huge red barn stood beyond the house. The riding arena was next to a matching red stable. A dozen or so horses grazed in the lush, green pasture.

McKenzie sighed with contentment. She had met Bailey at Camp Discovery, where they had shared a cabin with four other campers. The six girls, or the Camp Club Girls, as they called themselves, had become fast friends by solving a mystery together. Though they all lived in different parts of the country, they had kept in touch and gone on to solve another mystery together. Bailey was the youngest of the group at nine years old, four years younger than McKenzie.

The girls stepped onto the huge porch that wrapped around the house. They dropped onto the porch swing while Emma slipped inside. Emma quickly returned with cold drinks.

“Emma, this is so perfect.” McKenzie reached out to pet Buckeye, Emma’s brown and white terrier. “This will be so fun having Bailey here. Now, we can work on barrel racing together.”

“Don’t forget you have to save time for the Junior Miss Rodeo Queen contest, too,” Emma said as she ran her fingers through her short blond hair.

McKenzie groaned. She wasn’t sure she wanted to compete in the contest. Emma had competed when she was younger and had told McKenzie’s mom what a wonderful experience it had been. Now, Mom had talked McKenzie into competing. McKenzie didn’t like the thought of wearing fancy riding clothes for the contest. And she especially dreaded the thought of standing on stage in front of hundreds of people.

McKenzie got slightly nervous in riding competitions, but just thinking about the queen contest made her want to throw up.

“Are your parents coming for the rodeo and the queen contest?” Bailey scratched Buckeye’s ears.

“Yes, they’ll be here,” McKenzie answered, sipping her lemonade. “My family doesn’t live too far away. I usually come over here and train a couple of days a week. But, now that I’m helping with Kids Camp, I get to stay here until the rodeo next week. I’ll have a lot of extra time to train.”

After the girls finished their lemonade, Emma asked McKenzie to show Bailey their bedroom. The girls stepped inside the front door where Bailey had left her bags. She grabbed her pink and green striped pillow and tucked it under her arm along with a monster-sized black and white panda. McKenzie grabbed the two bags and led the way upstairs to their bedroom. A set of bunk beds stood against one wall.

McKenzie turned to her friend. “I knew you were hoping to visit, but I didn’t think you’d be able to come.”

“I didn’t either.” Bailey dropped her pillow and panda on the floor. “When Uncle Troy found out about his trip, Mom and Dad decided at the last minute that I could come along.”

“We’ll have a blast.” McKenzie pointed to Bailey’s bags. “Do you have cowboy boots in there somewhere? And, you might want to change into jeans so we can go horseback riding as soon as Derek finds a new bridle for Sahara.”

Bailey changed her clothes. Then the girls headed back downstairs and went outside with Emma.

“I’ll help you saddle your horses,” Emma said as she led the way across the yard. “Bailey, you can ride the Shetland pony, Applejack. Then you two can go for a ride while I work. How does that sound?”

“Great.” McKenzie said. “When do we need to be back for chores?”

“About an hour or so.” Emma said as they walked through the stable to Applejack’s stall.

First Emma helped saddle the horse for Bailey, while McKenzie put the bridle on. Emma grabbed a riding helmet for the younger girl and led Applejack out of the stable.

Derek met them at the doorway holding Sahara, who was fitted with a new bridle. Derek was Emma’s newest stable hand. He had only been working at Sunshine Stables for two months. Even though Derek was an adult, he reminded McKenzie of her eight-year-old brother, Evan. Both were always full of mischief.

“You look better than you did a while ago,” Derek told McKenzie. “You’re not even limping.”

“Nope. I told you I was fine.” She patted Sahara’s neck.

“McKenzie, why don’t you introduce your friend to Derek? I didn’t have a chance to do that when you were taking your wild ride,” Emma teased.

McKenzie pulled Bailey to her side. “Bailey Chang, meet Derek McGrady. Bailey lives in Peoria, Illinois.”

“Nice to meet you, Bailey. You ready to hop on Applejack? He’s ready for you.” He grabbed the horse’s reins and opened the gate.

McKenzie followed with Sahara. She placed her boot in the stirrup and swung herself up onto the saddle. Then with ease, Bailey hopped onto Applejack’s back.

“Your mom said you’ve done quite a bit of riding, Bailey. Is that right?” Emma asked as she closed the gate behind them.

“Yes. But I’m not as good as McKenzie.” Bailey swept her long bangs away from her forehead and slipped on her helmet. “I’ve done some racing at county fairs but never a rodeo.”

“You’re a lot younger than she is. You have plenty of time to improve.” Emma smiled at Bailey.

“Is it okay if we ride to Old Towne?” McKenzie put her helmet on and fastened the chinstrap.

“Sure. You have your cell phone with you, right?” Emma asked. “After you look around for awhile, head back for chores. Both of you can help with Diamond Girl when she comes in from pasture.”

Diamond Girl was Sunshine Stable’s most famous horse. She was Emma’s prize horse and a rodeo winner. For the last three years, Emma had ridden Diamond Girl in the barrel-racing competition, and each year Emma brought home the first-place trophy. McKenzie couldn’t wait to show Diamond Girl to Bailey.

Eager for a ride, the girls waved to Emma and Derek and headed for the dirt track behind the house. A warm summer breeze rustled the pine trees lining the trail.

“What is Old Towne?” Bailey asked as her horse plodded beside McKenzie’s.

“It’s a bunch of Old West buildings. There’s an old-time Main Street with a general store, post office, and stuff like that. But it’s more like a ghost town now. It belongs to Sunshine Stables and is open during June, July, and the first week of August. It’s closed now for the season. But we can still go look around.” McKenzie shielded her eyes against the sun and peered into the distance.

Pointing her finger, she continued, “See that old wooden windmill way out there? That’s Old Towne.”

“It looks kind of creepy.” Bailey wrinkled her nose.

“You know, there is a spooky story about Old Towne.” McKenzie flicked her reins at Sahara who had stopped to munch some grass. “A long time ago, a mysterious rider was seen riding out there at dusk. Some people say it was a ghost rider.”

Bailey looked quizzically at McKenzie. “Is that for real?”

McKenzie chuckled. “That’s what they say.”

“Has anybody seen the ghost rider lately?” Bailey nudged Applejack forward.

“I haven’t heard anything about it. Emma said the ghost rider story started years before she bought Sunshine Stables. She says someone just made it up to get visitors to come to Old Towne. It worked. Old Towne used to rake in the money. People paid to ride horses from the stables, hoping to see the ghost rider.”

“That’s spooky. A fun kind of spooky, that is,” Bailey said as she leaned over and scratched Applejack’s neck.

“Well, let’s go check the place out. I’ve never been here after it was closed for the season.”

McKenzie nudged Sahara with her heels. The girls galloped down the trail. The horses’ hooves stirred up little puffs of dust.

“Here we are,” McKenzie said as she arrived at the top of a small hill. She halted Sahara and waited for Bailey to catch up.

“Wow! This is neater than I thought it would be!” Bailey exclaimed, her eyes wide.

The girls continued down the trail leading to Main Street. Old storefronts lined both sides of the dirt street. A weathered school building and a church were nestled on a grassy lawn at the edge of town, away from the other buildings.

“Let’s tie our horses at the hitching post and look around.” McKenzie hung her helmet on the post and fluffed her sweaty curls.

After tying both horses, the girls stepped on the wooden sidewalk. Bailey ran ahead, her boots thumping loudly on the wood. She stopped and peered through a streaked windowpane. A tall red and white barber pole stood beside it.

“I can just imagine a cowboy sitting in there getting his hair cut,” Bailey said with a giggle.

“Yeah and then he could head across the street to the general store for a piece of beef jerky and a new pair of chaps.” McKenzie stuck her thumbs in her belt loops and walked bow-legged across the street.

Bailey laughed and raced to catch up with McKenzie. She stopped suddenly in the middle of the street and looked at the dusty ground. “Hey, did cowboys eat candy bars?”

McKenzie picked up the wrapper and shoved it in her pocket. “Maybe the ghost likes the candy. Whooo-ooooh!” McKenzie wailed eerily.

The girls headed to the general store and peered through the window. McKenzie pointed out different items in the darkness. They saw old wooden rakes, hand plows, and row after row of tin cans on the shelves. A headless mannequin wore a long, lacy white dress and a pair of men’s bib overalls hung from a hanger.

Both girls jumped when McKenzie’s cell phone rang. She pulled the phone from her pocket, answered, and listened to the caller for a minute. Then she quickly said “Okay. ’Bye,” and flipped the phone shut.

“That was Emma,” she said. “She wants us to hurry home. Diamond Girl is missing!”

My Opinion:

I’m so impressed with this book (as well as the one that will be posted on Sunday), I try to make sure that when my children read books that the are edifying to the Lord. We haven’t finished reading this book yet but from reading the other one this book is a great read for young girls. The only thing thus far that I’ve noticed is there is an old tale about a ghost rider who rides through this abandoned town that has been renovated for tourists. Other than that I haven’t seen much else to concern me with – if I run into that I’ll let you know.

The Camp Club Girls are all Christians and who openly pray with each other and their parents. They don’t disrespect their parents like in other popular books of today’s culture for young ladies, they actually ask their parents opinions. In this book the girls are in their own CCG chat room so if you’re reading this aloud it’s actually kind of confusing, so it’s better to let the girl read it then pick back up reading. No derogatory or degrading terms are used in their chat and it’s a private room with only them.

I do recommend these books, if you can overlook the ghost or explain to your daughter that ghosts aren’t real (which I’m sure happens in this book but we haven’t gotten that far) which can lead to some open discussions. I’ve enjoyed reading this book with my daughter as bonding time and we have something fun to do just the two of us.

Comments Off on FIRST tour: Camp Club Girls #3 "McKenzie’s Montant Mystery" by Shari Barr

FIRST tour: "Alexis and the Sacramento Surprise" Camp Club Girls #4 by Erica Rodgers


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:
Erica Rodgers

and the book:

Alexis and the Sacramento Surprise (Camp Club Girls 4)

Barbour Books (March 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Erica Rodgers lives outside of Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and two children. She loves reading, singing in front of her bathroom mirror, and being outside. She currently writes juvenile and young adult fiction.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $5.97
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602602700
ISBN-13: 978-1602602700

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

A Problem at the Park

SLAM!

Alexis Howell jolted up in bed. She sat for a moment while her shocked heart slowed down.

Who on earth is banging doors this early in the morning? She thought. It’s only—

She looked at the clock on her wall.

“Nine thirty!” Alexis exclaimed.

She knew she had set her alarm for eight o’clock, but she reached over and saw that someone had unplugged it. Alexis threw the covers off and flew out of bed. Why did her little brothers always mess with her on important days? She’d be late!

She yanked on a pair of shorts, slipped on a pair of flip-flops, and scurried toward the door. Alexis passed her desk and reached out, but her hand closed on thin air.

“Where’s my paper?” she yelled.

“You mean this one?” her brother asked. He was standing at the top of the stairs waving a paper airplane. The boys were twins, and at first glance she sometimes couldn’t tell them apart, which made them even more annoying.

“You made it into an airplane?” cried Alexis. “Give it to me!”

“You should have said please,” her brother said. He drew his arm back and flung the airplane down the stairs.

“No!” cried Alexis. She bounded toward the stairs.

She could see the important paper circling toward the living room. Here, like everywhere else in her house, were countless stacks of paper. Her mother and father were both lawyers. They worked in the same office, and since that office was being renovated, all of their work had migrated to the Howell house. If that tiny paper airplane landed in the middle of that mess, she would never find it!

Alexis leaped down the first three stairs. On the fourth, however, her foot landed on a remote-control race car and flew out from beneath her. Alexis crashed down the rest of the stairs and slammed into the closest pile of files. It was a paper explosion.

“What on earth?” cried Mrs. Howell. She ran in from the kitchen and found Alexis knee deep in paper, searching. More paper still fell like rain from the ceiling.

“Oh no!” said Alexis. “Where is it? Where is it!”

“Calm down, Alexis,” said Mrs. Howell. “Where is what?”

“The e-mails! I printed out Kate’s e-mail and wrote her flight information on the back. If I can’t find it, we won’t know when to get her! And I’m running late!”

Her mom placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Calm down,” she said. “We have plenty of time. Here, I’ll help.” Alexis’s mom began stacking her files. In no time she uncovered a small, crumpled airplane. Alexis flattened it out and took a deep breath.

“Thanks, Mom.” Alexis read the page again just to be sure it was the right paper airplane.

Camp Club Update

From: Alexis Howell

Hey girls! How is everyone? I’m great, but things have been boring since I got home from camp. I have two more weeks until cheerleading starts, so I’m at home with my brothers way too often! The only investigating I’ve done lately involves a missing Spiderman sock and the cat from next door. Isn’t that sad?

Oh! I almost forgot! A lady at my church could use your prayers. Her name is Miss Maria, and she runs a nature park outside the city. It’s a great place to see the local plants and animals, but lately not many people have been visiting. If Miss Maria can’t get some big business she’s going to have to close the park. The park is all she has. It would be awful if she had to sell it. She rented some fake dinosaurs that look real and really move, like the animals at Disneyland. Maybe this will bring more business! Pray that it does!

Kisses, Alex

Alex,

It was so good to get your update! I’m sorry to hear about Miss Maria. Is she really getting mechanical dinosaurs? That is so awesome! Are you up for a visitor? Sounds like you could use a little excitement, and I can get there easily. My grandpa is a pilot and gets me great deals to fly all over the country. That really comes in handy when I get the urge to visit California! LOL!

I would love to see you, and besides, I’ve never seen animatronics that close up before! Do you think Miss Maria would let me touch them? Let me know what your mom says!

Love, Kate

Alexis must have read Kate’s e-mail forty-three times, but her heart was still racing. She had thought she wouldn’t see any of the other Camp Club Girls until next summer, but in less than an hour Kate would be there! Alexis was sure this week would be amazing. How could it not be? They would find some crazy case to solve; maybe a stolen piece of art, or a break-in at the Governor’s Mansion. Whatever they did would be ten times better than doing nothing—as she had done for the last month.

On her way to the kitchen Alexis poked her head into the bathroom to glance in the mirror. She pulled her loose brown curls into a quick ponytail and wiped the sleep from her eyes. They were an electric blue, and Alexis knew they clashed with her hair, but she liked being a little different.

She stepped back and scrunched her face. If only she could make her freckles disappear! They stood out on her pale skin like spots on a snow leopard, and she could never decide if she liked them or not. She had tried once to cover them with her mom’s makeup, but it had been the wrong color, and waterproof so she couldn’t remove it easily with water. She hadn’t known that her mother had special make-up remover. That day she had gone to school looking like a pumpkin.

Oh well. Sometimes she was proud of her freckles. They measured how good her summer had been. The more fun she had in the sun, the darker they got.

“Lots of fun in the sun this year, I guess,” she said, then she spun out of the bathroom. Her toasted blueberry waffles were waiting for her in the kitchen.

“Thanks, Mom,” Alexis said as she ate.

“You’re welcome, but do you really need to say it with your mouth full?”

Alexis swallowed. “Sorry.”

Her twin brothers, who were seven, had freckles just like Alexis but had also inherited the red hair from her mother’s side of the family. The boys finished eating and began playing hide-and-seek among the towering files in the living room. Alexis ignored the possibility of disaster and ate quickly. She was counting down the minutes until she would see Kate at the airport.

Twenty minutes until they left.

Forty minutes until they parked.

Forty-five minutes until—

The television caught her eye. She usually ignored the news, but the anchorwoman with big hair was showing a shot of her friend, Miss Maria, standing in front of the nature park. Alexis grabbed the remote and turned up the volume just in time to hear the introduction to the story.

“Let’s go to Channel 13 reporter Thad Swotter for more about this story.”

“Thank you, Nicky,” said the news man. He flashed the camera a cheesy smile. “Yesterday one more company refused to sponsor Aspen Heights Conservation Park. That makes them number 10 on the list of people who have denied the park money this year. You may ask, Thad, who’s counting? And I would say no one—except the park’s owner.”

Thad Swotter laughed into the camera, his mouth still stretched into a wide, fake smile.

“As a last-ditch effort to revive the park,” he continued, “Maria Santos has scattered a stampede of mechanical dinosaurs throughout the park. The exhibit opens to the public today and will be there through the end of this month.”

“Well, Thad,” said the woman with the big hair, “do you think this will bring in more visitors?”

“I know Miss Santos hopes so,” said the reporter. “It looks like she’s spent her life’s savings on the project. It certainly is creative, but I think it will take more than a bunch of toy dinosaurs to keep that park from becoming extinct!”

“Thanks, Thad. Now over to Chris for last night’s sports report.”

Alexis had forgotten about her waffles. None of her friends had ever been on the news before, but she wasn’t excited. She was worried. Had Miss Maria really spent the last of her savings on those dinosaurs? If so, things must be pretty bad.

Alexis whipped out her bright pink notebook and scribbled:

Mission: find a way to help Miss Maria.

Step One: Visit park with Kate and ask how we can help.

Going to the park was a great idea. It seemed like the perfect place to find an adventure. Kate really wanted to see the dinosaurs, and maybe they could help Miss Maria while they were there. Alexis shoved her notebook into her pink camouflage backpack. She never left home without it. Taking notes was one of the most important things an investigator could do, and Alexis considered herself an investigator. After all, the Camp Club Girls were regularly finding cases to solve.

Half an hour later Alexis and her mom were at the airport, waiting for Kate to pop through the exit gate of the security checkpoint. Mrs. Howell said that she used to be able to meet people at the door of the plane. Alexis couldn’t imagine that. For as long as she could remember she had waited for visitors here—next to the gift shop, and at a safe distance from the burly security guards. It would have been fun to meet Kate at her gate—they would already be having a blast. But Alexis was stuck waiting near a rack of over-priced California coffee mugs.

The first thing Alexis noticed was Kate’s new pair of glasses flashing through the crowd. They were bright green and came to a point at the sides. They made Alexis think of the Riddler, one of the best Batman villains. She laughed at the thought and met her friend with a hug.

“It’s so good to see you!” said Alexis. “How was your flight?”

“Long, and they wouldn’t let Biscuit sit with me! He had to go under the plane! Do you have any idea how cold it gets down there?”

Alexis caught her breath and stopped abruptly. She’d forgotten about Biscuit! How many times when the boys begged for a dog had Mrs. Howell firmly told them their house, especially now, with all its stacks of paper, was no place for a dog! Alexis suspected the real issue was that her mom didn’t like dogs. At all. She frowned when people walking their dogs didn’t clean up their droppings in the yard. She’d also opposed a neighborhood park being turned into a dog park.

What will Mom do! Alexis thought. Will she make Kate send Biscuit back home? Will she make Biscuit stay in the garage? But then Biscuit will cry all night.

“Alexis!” Mrs. Howell called. Kate realized that her mother and friend were far ahead of her. She glanced at her mother’s face. Mrs. Howell looked cheerful and friendly. Apparently she either hadn’t heard Kate’s words clearly or didn’t know that Biscuit was a dog.

Lord, please help Mom be nice about Biscuit! Alexis prayed silently.

Alexis’s mom led the girls to the baggage claim. They picked up a neat little suitcase and a not-so-neat black and white puppy. At the sight of Biscuit, Mrs. Howell’s smile faltered.

“Don’t worry, Mom,” said Alexis. “Biscuit can stay in my room—away from your files.” Mrs. Howell said that she wasn’t worried, but her face relaxed a bit. Alexis knew that she had been thinking of the endless stacks of paper that could easily become chew toys and chaos.

Thank You, God! Alexis mentally murmured. She knew if Mom didn’t say anything now, she never would. Now, if only Alexis and Kate could make sure Biscuit didn’t get in Mom’s way or cause trouble!

“We’re going straight to the park,” Alexis said to Kate as they arrived at the family’s green Durango. They buckled themselves into the back seat, and Mrs. Howell dug around in her purse for some cash to pay for parking.

“The dinosaur exhibit opens today, so tons of people should be there,” Alexis added as her mom pulled onto the highway.

Alexis was wrong. A half-hour later Mrs. Howell drove through the two towering redwoods at the entrance to Aspen Heights and frowned. Theirs was only the second car in the parking lot.

“I don’t understand!” said Alexis. “Where is everyone? It was on the news and everything!”

“Don’t worry, sweetheart,” said her mother. “I’m sure more people will come. It’s not even lunchtime yet.”

Lunchtime came and went, though, and only a handful of people were enjoying the park. Alexis and Kate walked the shade-speckled trails with Biscuit on his leash.

“Wow!” said Kate. “There are so many plants here!”

“I know,” said Alexis. “Miss Maria tries to keep a little of everything. She especially likes the endangered ones.”

“Oh look! Another dinosaur!” Kate ran up to a triceratops that looked like it was eating the fuzzy leaves of a mule ear. A miniature triceratops was feet away near an evergreen bush. Alexis figured it must be the baby.

Miss Marie had certainly arranged the dinosaurs well. Alexis and Kate had to look hard to see the electrical cords and power boxes hidden among the plants, feeding power to the animatrons.

Alexis had never been easily able to imagine what dinosaurs looked like. But these animatrons were full-sized. They had been meticulously fashioned to resemble the original animals as closely as possible. Alexis began to understand the fascination some people felt for the extinct creatures.

“They’re a lot different than in the Jurassic Park movies,” Alexis noted. “I thought they’d be taller than this. Some of them aren’t too much bigger than a large man.”

Kate laughed. “Alexis, you’re the one from California! You should be the first to know that movies aren’t always true to life!”

Alex grinned. “Actually, most of the movie stuff goes on around Los Angeles, and that’s quite a ways down the coast. We see movie crews around shooting sometimes. But other than that, we don’t have much more to do with the entertainment industry than you probably do in Philadelphia.”

“Well, most of the dinosaurs were actually probably smaller than the ones in those movies. And sometimes the movies weren’t accurate in recreating the dinosaurs.

“Like these velociraptors,” Kate said, pointing at the herd of creatures with their waving arms. “See how they’re kind of feathery looking? This is more accurate than the portrayals that show them with scaly, lizard-like skin. Just a couple of years ago some paleontologists found a preserved raptor forearm in Mongolia that proved it had feathers.”

“How in the world do you know all that?” Alexis asked.

“Discovery Channel,” Kate said with a grin. “And a teacher who spends her summer looking for dinosaur footprints!”

The girls walked along the pathway to the next creature, a dromaeosaurus lurking near a nest of eggs that looked like they came from a much larger beast.

“This one is even better than the raptor!” said Kate. “Look! Its eyes blink!”

“Actually, Kate, I think it’s winking! The other eye is stuck!”

The girls’ laughter was cut short. They jumped in alarm as another dinosaur nearby, a dilophosaurus, raised its head and bellowed. As the animatron swung its head around, Alex gasped.

“It spit at me!” she cried. “I’ve been assaulted by dinosaur spit! That must have sent out a gallon of water, and all on me! My shirt is soaked!”

Kate clutched her sides, laughing. “Well, at least they used water instead of adding more component to make the expectorant more realistic!”

“What?” Alexis asked.

“At least they didn’t make it slimy and mucusy like real spit might have been!”

“Oh, I’m sorry I asked,” Alex said. “Wait a minute while I throw up at that thought—and it wouldn’t be water, either!”

The rest of the animatron trail passed uneventfully. More bellows and eye blinks and movements, but thankfully, no more assaults by spitting dinosaurs.

As Alex’s shirt started to dry in the hot sun, the girls started giggling again about the spitting dinosaur.

“Sounds like a rock band,” Alex said. “The Spitting Dinosaurs.”

“Yeah, or maybe a little kids’ T-ball team!” Kate added.

The girls laughed all the way back to the visitors’ center. The entrance from the walking trails looked like an old log cabin with a green roof. That led into another larger building with the same log design. The larger building housed more exhibits and displays about nature and animals.

Alexis noticed that more cars were now in the parking lot, and her smile stretched even wider. It would be horrible if the dinosaurs turned out to be a waste of Miss Maria’s money.

When they walked into the visitors’ center, a lanky teenager greeted them from behind the desk.

“Hey, Alex, who’s your friend?” he called out.

“Hi, Jerry. This is Kate.” Jerry was tall and a little thin, as if the summer between eighth and ninth grade had stretched him out. His dark hair had light streaks from spending plenty of time in the sun. Between that, his flip-flops, and his tan, he looked as if he’d stepped right out of a surfing movie.

“Hi, Kate,” said Jerry. “It’s good to meet you!”

“You, too,” said Kate, looking at her shoes shyly.

Bam! The door to the visitors’ center flew open and Miss Maria stormed in.

“That news man from Channel 13 just got here,” she said. “Try to ignore him.” She stopped to hug Alexis with her wiry, suntanned arms and shook hands with Kate.

“But Miss Maria,” said Jerry, “don’t you want to be on the news? It might get more people to come to the park.”

“Yes, it might, but that young reporter isn’t very pleasant.” Miss Maria tucked a piece of short salt-and-pepper hair behind her ear. “More than toy dinosaurs, huh?”

Miss Maria grumbled to herself until a visitor stuck his head through the open door and called to her.

“Hey, Maria! Good job with the triceratops and raptor footprints. They’re so realistic! And I’m glad you put a raptor by the fountain. He looks good there. I’ll be back with my family, and I’ll encourage my students to come!”

Miss Maria thanked the man, who introduced himself as a biology professor from one of the local colleges. “But I’ve always longed to be a paleontologist!” he confessed.

As the professor waved good-bye, Alexis noticed that Miss Maria didn’t look too happy.

“He liked the dinosaurs!” Alexis said. “What’s wrong, Miss Maria? Didn’t you hear? He’s bringing his whole family! And he’s sending his students over!”

Miss Maria looked out the window and tapped a finger on the sill.

“Yes, I heard him,” said Miss Maria. “The question is, did you? He said he liked the footprints—what footprints is he talking about? Alexis, did you and your friend notice any footprints this morning?”

Alexis shook her head. “But we weren’t looking that closely,” she said.

“And there shouldn’t be a raptor near the fountain at all,” said Maria. “I put them all in the dogwood grove.”

“Someone must have moved him,” said Alexis.

“But why would they do that?” asked Kate.

“Why would anyone dig up my pansies, or carve their initials in a hundred year-old redwood tree?” said Maria. “Sometimes they do it because they have no respect for God’s creation. Sometimes they do it to cause trouble. And sometimes they do it to show off to their friends. Who knows why else they do it! But moving around some of those dinosaurs isn’t easy, and they’re liable to mess up the wires—to even get electrocuted. Let’s go take a look.”

Miss Maria had placed the six raptors together in a little herd. Sure enough, when they rounded the corner to the dogwood grove, the smallest one was missing. Little footprints led away through the trees. They had three toes, like a bird had made them, with two of the toes being longer than the third. The group followed the tracks along the trail until they reached the fountain. Then they saw him.

The diminutive dinosaur was posed on the edge of the fountain. Fortunately, he was one of the models that wasn’t animated or electric. He was about two feet tall and bright green. His long tail kept him balanced on his back legs as he leaned toward the water. He looked as if he’d simply left the herd to get a drink.

“Weird!” said Jerry.

“Yeah,” Alexis agreed.

She walked carefully around the fountain. She and Alexis had been laughing too hard earlier to notice the footprints if they’d been there. And this raptor hadn’t stood out when they’d seen it earlier—they didn’t know Miss Maria hadn’t put it by the water. Her mind kicked into overdrive just like it always did when she found something strange or out of place.

How did he get there? She wondered. If someone moved him, why are there only dinosaur footprints in the mud? Shouldn’t there have been human prints, too? Alexis pulled her notebook out of her backpack and instinctively began writing things down.

“Interesting, and irritating,” said Miss Maria. She scooped up the raptor and walked back toward the path holding him beneath her elbow. “You all go back to the visitors’ center to greet people as they arrive,” she said. “I’m going to go check around.”

When they reached the center, Jerry’s younger sister, Megan Smith, ran out to greet them. She was going into the seventh grade, like Alexis, and looked just like her brother, only with longer hair.

“Hi, guys!” Megan said. She pointed toward the parking lot. “Did you see the news crew?”

“Yeah,” said Alexis.

“Maria wants us to stay away from them,” said Jerry. Was Alexis imagining it, or was Jerry irritated?

“Oops. . .,” said Megan. “I gave the guy with the funny hair a tour. He said he was interested in seeing all of the dinosaurs.”

“That’s okay, Meg,” said Alexis. “A tour couldn’t have done any harm. Maybe he liked the park enough to do a big story for the evening news.”

Kate pushed her glasses up on the bridge of her nose and pointed toward the parking lot.

“I wonder why he’s coming back,” she said.

Sure enough, the reporter was striding across the parking lot. The wind tossed his bright blue tie around and lifted his hair up at an odd angle. Alexis wondered if he was wearing a wig. She would have thought he was too young for that, but then again, she also knew teachers and men at church who were way younger than her dad and hardly had any hair.

“Hi, kids!” he said. “I’m Thad. Thad Swotter—investigative reporter for Channel 13.”

Not quite as impressive as he is on TV, thought Alexis.

“Some place you guys have here,” Swotter said, looking around. His tone reminded Alexis of how her father greeted her great-aunt Gertrude. They visited her in Phoenix sometimes for Thanksgiving. He always said he was glad to be there, but Alexis didn’t think he meant it.

“Miss Maria has worked very hard to share California’s indigenous plants with our community,” said Alexis. Thad Swotter smiled, and Alexis thought his perfect teeth might be a little big for his mouth.

“Indigenous, huh?” said Swotter. “That’s quite a big word for such a little girl. You know, I was sure I saw some specimens that were definitely not native to California.”

“Well, yes,” said Megan. “On the tour I showed you the olive and the fig tree. Miss Maria works very hard to keep those alive through the winter. She likes to give people glimpses of other parts of the country, and even the world, too.”

“Yes, I remember,” said Swotter. “And the thorns were creepy. I’m glad we don’t really have those in the foothills of the Sierra-Nevada Mountains!”

“Thorns?” asked Kate.

“Yes,” said Alexis. “Miss Maria’s favorite plant is the Christ’s-thorn in her greenhouse. It’s planted next to a replica of the crown of thorns Jesus wore.”

“Cool!”

“Cool it may be,” said the reporter. “But I don’t see how those thorns have anything to do with us. They’re out of place.”

“That’s not true,” said Megan. “God created all of it, so everything belongs.”

“God created?” Swotter lifted his eyebrows in amusement. “You kids are almost as bad as the bat that runs this place!”

Alexis reared up, ready to defend Miss Maria, but she took a deep breath instead. She knew it would be disrespectful to argue with Mr. Swotter. She even resisted the urge to roll her eyes—which was not easy when she was annoyed.

“This is exactly why nobody comes here!” Swotter laughed. “No one wants to come to a park to get preached at!”

“No one’s preaching, sir,” said Jerry respectfully. “People don’t have to believe in God or Jesus to appreciate the plants. If it really bothers them, they can stick to the other parts of the park.”

“They could,” said Swotter, “but it’d be easier for them not to come at all. Look, kids, California has enough theme parks. If I want to hear a fairy tale, I’ll go to Disneyland.” He snickered again and walked off to examine a clump of poppies.

“He’s rude,” said Kate. “Good thing he doesn’t act that rude on TV.”

“He practically does,” said Alexis. She looked around the empty park entrance. Where was Miss Maria? She had been gone for a long time.

“Those footprints were weird, weren’t they?” Jerry laughed. “It’s like the dinosaurs just woke up and decided to explore the park!”

Thad Swotter stood up and scribbled furiously in his notebook. He headed toward his van, almost stomping on the poppies as he went. Alexis heard him yell something at his cameraman, who had fallen asleep on the steering wheel.

“What’s up with him?” asked Megan.

“Maybe he’s late,” said Alexis. The group turned back toward the visitors’ center. “I think we should check on Miss Maria.” Before anyone could agree with her, a scream ripped through the trees.

Then all was silent.

“It came from over there.” Jerry pointed toward the trail that led to the triceratops.

“Oh no! Miss Maria!” Alexis tore off through the trees and the others followed.

When they came around the last corner, Alexis almost screamed herself. Miss Maria was lying on her back in the mud, next to the mother triceratops. She wasn’t moving.

Her large eyes stared unblinking into the cloudless sky.

My Opinion:

This was a very enjoyable book and the first one my daughter and I read in the Camp Girl series. I wasn’t sure what to expect since most of the time we pick up books that are purported to be young ladies Christian fiction are usually too wordly and get quickly returned to the library drop box. However, this book was a good read and I would have no issues with my oldest reading this on her own. The only thing I would say some may find objectionable is there is a young male doctor and a girl makes a comment about him being good looking – but it wasn’t anything that was inappropriate. I would suggest this book to others that have girls who need a Christian book that would be okay for their daughter to read on her own.

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FIRST tour: "I Can Do This" Diet by Dr. Don Colbert


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:

Don Colbert

and the book:

Dr. Colbert’s “I Can Do This” Diet

Siloam Press (January 5, 2010)

***Special thanks to LeAnn Hamby | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Don Colbert, MD, is board-certified in family practice and anti-aging medicine. He has also received extensive training in nutritional and preventative medicine, and he has helped millions of people to discover the joy of living in divine health. In addition to speaking at conferences, he is the author of the New York Times best-selling book The Seven Pillars of Health, along with best sellers Toxic Relief, the Bible Cure series, Living in Divine Health, Deadly Emotions, and What Would Jesus Eat?

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Siloam Press (January 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599793504
ISBN-13: 978-1599793504

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The Obesity Epidemic:
What We’re Up Against

A few years ago a thirty-two-year-old man named Morgan Spurlock became Ronald McDonald’s worst nightmare. Intent on correlating the rise of obesity in our nation with the fast-food giant, the independent filmmaker conducted a personal experiment—using himself as the guinea pig. For thirty days he ate nothing but McDonald’s food. He downed three meals a day, sampling every item on the Golden Arches’ menu. And whenever he was asked if he wanted his meal supersized, he accepted.

With cameras rolling the entire time, Spurlock transformed his body into a flab factory while consuming an average of 5,000 calories a day and gaining almost 25 pounds in a single month. He also turned his Academy Award–nominated documentary, Super Size Me, into a statement heard around the world.1

The jury is still out on whether Americans were actually paying attention. Though recent statistics indicate that the obesity rates in the United States may be stabilizing, they’re still at unprecedented, staggering levels.2 Since the 1960s, the proportion of obese Americans—now an astounding 34 percent—has more than doubled.3 Obesity currently kills an estimated four hundred thousand Americans each year and is the second-leading cause of preventable deaths in this country.4 The number one avoidable killer? Cigarette smoking.5 That means maintaining a healthy weight is up there with quitting smoking as the most crucial lifestyle change you could ever make. Because we’re seeing a trend of people deciding to quit smoking, I predict that obesity will soon pass smoking as the number one avoidable killer of Americans.

Unfortunately, many doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians seem to completely miss or ignore this fact. They love to offer topical “Band-Aids” that alleviate patients’ symptoms yet fail to tackle the root issues or consider the long-term ramifications of neglecting their patients’ weight. One recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that about a third of obese adults have never been told by a doctor or health-care provider that they were obese.6 Unbelievable! The results speak for themselves. In fact, they’re screaming while most practitioners turn the other way.

As our nation faces the biggest health-care crisis in its history, it’s time for us to realize that the answer isn’t going to come from doctors, clinics, or the U.S. government. It’s going to come from each person taking responsibility for their own health. And because obesity and overweight are at the root of so many health conditions, it only makes sense to start by getting yourself to a healthy weight.

Defining the Problem

Before we delve into what has so many people visiting the plus-size department, let’s clarify the terms overweight and obese. Many people have a general sense as to how these words are different, yet in recent years the delineation has become clearer. Various health organizations, including the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), now officially define these terms using the body mass index (BMI), which factors in a person’s weight relative to height. Most of these organizations define an overweight adult as having a BMI between 25 and 29.9, while an obese adult is anyone who has a BMI of 30 or higher.7

It’s worth mentioning that a very small portion of individuals are overweight or obese according to their BMI (over 30) yet have a normal or low body fat percentage. Professional athletes, for instance, often have a high-muscle, low body fat makeup that causes them to weigh more than the average person, yet they are not truly obese (some football linemen and sumo wrestlers excluded, of course).

However, I have found that most of the people who come to me seeking help are not just overweight but technically obese, with a body fat percentage greater than 25 percent for males and greater than 33 percent for females.8 Throughout this book when I discuss having a high BMI (over 30), I will be referring to obese people and not those few muscular types with high BMI but a normal or low body fat percentage.

The Fat Cost of Obesity

When all is considered, obesity comes with a fat price tag (pun intended) of nearly $122.9 billion each year.10 Recently William L. Weis, a management professor at Seattle University, calculated the total annual revenue from the “obesity industry”—which includes fast-food restaurants, obesity-related medical treatments, and diet books—as more than $315 billion. That amounts to nearly 3 percent of the United States’ overall economy!11 As shocking as that sounds, no dollar amount can do justice to the real damage being done.

If you are overweight or obese, you increase your risk of developing thirty-five major diseases, including (take a deep breath) heart disease, stroke, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, Alzheimer’s disease, infertility, erectile dysfunction, gallstones, gallbladder disease, adult-onset asthma, and depression. In fact, we now know that being overweight or obese increases your odds of developing more than a dozen forms of cancer. After reviewing more than seven thousand medical studies over the course of five years, a team of highly respected scientists from around the world concluded in 2007 that diet and weight have a direct effect on the chances of developing cancer. With help from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer, they listed the top ten recommendations for cancer prevention; body fat came in at number one. Their report also strongly recommended maintaining a normal range of body weight, which they identified as a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9, to assist in cancer prevention.12

If you are an obese woman, you have a significantly higher risk of postmenopausal breast cancer—one and a half times more than a woman with an average healthy weight, to be exact. You also increase your chances of developing uterine cancer because of your weight. For pregnant mothers, the risk of delivering a baby with a serious birth defect is doubled if you are overweight and quadrupled if you are obese.13 Men, your chances of developing prostate cancer are almost double if you are overweight, and even greater if you are obese.14 (Prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer among men behind skin cancer.) A separate new study indicates that the greater a man’s weight, the greater his chances of dying from a stroke.15 Finally, for both men and women the odds of getting colon and kidney cancer increase with weight. And being obese triples your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

This is just a sampling of the physical implications of obesity. There are social and psychological ones too. Obese individuals generally contend with more rejection and prejudice than the average person. Often they are overlooked for promotions or not even hired because of their physical appearance. Most obese people struggle daily with self-worth and self-image issues. They feel unattractive and unappreciated and are at an increased risk of depression. Many of us have experienced the humiliating experience of an obese person trying to fit in an airplane, stadium, or automobile seat that is too small. Maybe you have been that person. If you have, you are well acquainted with how obesity can affect the way others treat you, as well as how you treat yourself.

Globesity and a Culprit

Tragically, millions of others outside the United States struggle with the same issues. The World Health Organization calls obesity a worldwide epidemic. Obesity, along with its expanding list of health consequences, is now overtaking infection and malnutrition as the main cause of death and disability in many third-world countries. Globesity, as it has been termed, has officially arrived. And it seems Morgan Spurlock was on the right track in discovering a major reason why.

In Fast Food Nation, author Eric Schlosser reports that in 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, we spent more than $110 billion. Because corporate America is a global trendsetter, other countries have followed suit. Between 1984 and 1993, the number of fast-food restaurants in Great Britain doubled, as did the obesity rate among adults. Fast-forward fifteen years, and you will find the British currently eat more fast food than any other nation in Western Europe.

Meanwhile, the proportion of overweight teens in China has roughly tripled in the past decade. In Japan, the obesity rate among children doubled during the 1980s, which correlated with a 200 percent increase in fast-food sales. This generation of Japanese has gone on to become the first in the nation’s history known for its bulging waistlines. Approximately one-third of all Japanese men in their thirties are now overweight.16 Yes, the entire world is beginning to look more like Americans by adopting our fast-food eating habits.

A Child Shall Lead Them

How has an entire generation of hefty eaters changed the face of the world? By starting young. And once again, this unflattering trend originated in America. In the United States, one-fifth of our children are now reported to be overweight, and one out of ten (24 million adults) have diabetes. The CDC predicts that one out of three children born in the United States in 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes at some point in their life.18

As a result of childhood obesity, we are seeing a dramatic rise in children with type 2 diabetes throughout the country. And because of the connection obesity has with hypertension, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), and heart disease, experts are predicting a dramatic rise in heart disease as our children become adults. The CDC reports that overweight teens stand a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight adults, and that is increased to 80 percent if at least one parent is overweight or obese. Because of that, heart disease and type 2 diabetes are expected to begin at a much earlier age in those who fail to beat the odds.19 Overall, this is the first generation of children that is not expected to live as long as their parents, and they will be more likely to suffer from disease and illness at an earlier age.

If you do not lose weight for yourself, at least do it for your children. Children follow by example, by mirroring the behavior of their parents. Don’t tell them to lose weight without doing it yourself. I’m sure most of you love your children and are good parents. But ask yourself: Do you love your children enough to lose weight? Do you love them enough to educate them on what foods to eat and what foods to avoid? Do you love them enough to keep junk food out of your house and instead make healthy food more available? Do you love them enough to exercise regularly and lead by example?

If you answered yes to those questions, it is important that you not only take action for your children’s sake but also that you make changes for them that last. I am ecstatic that you have picked up this book. I believe you now hold the key to truly changing your life. But let me be honest; this is not an easy fight when it involves your children’s lives. The culture in which they are growing up is saturated with junk food that is void of nutrition but high in toxic fats, sugars, highly processed carbohydrates, and food additives. Consuming these foods has become part of childhood. For example, in 1978, the typical teenage boy in the United States drank seven ounces of soda a day; today he drinks approximately three times that much. Meanwhile, he gets about a quarter of his daily servings of vegetables from french fries and potato chips.24

If you’re planning on taking a stand against this garbage-in, garbage-out culture, expect some opposition from every front. During the course of a year, the typical American child will watch more than thirty thousand television commercials, with many of these advertisements pitching fast food or junk food as delicious “must-eats.” For years, fast-food franchises have enticed children into their restaurants with kids’ meal toys, promotional giveaways, and elaborate playgrounds. It has obviously worked for McDonald’s: about 90 percent of American children between the ages of three and nine set foot in one each month.25 And when they can’t visit the Golden Arches, it comes to them. Fast-food products—most of which are brought in by franchises—are sold in about 30 percent of public high school cafeterias and many elementary cafeterias.26

These fast-food establishments spend billions of dollars on research and marketing. They know exactly what they are doing and how to push your child’s hot button. They understand the powerful impact certain foods can have on you at a young age. Have you ever thought of when you first started liking certain foods? For the majority of people, those preferences were formed during the first few years of life. That is why comfort foods often do more than just fill the stomach; they bring about memories of the fair, playgrounds, toys, backyard birthday bashes, Fourth of July parties, childhood friends . . . the list goes on. The aroma of foods such as onion rings, doughnuts, or fried hamburgers can instantly trigger these memories, and as adults, we are often unconsciously drawn to these smells. Advertisers have keyed into this and learned to use the sight of food to stimulate the same fond childhood memories.

In the Genes or in the Water?

For every obese person, there is a story behind the excessive weight gain. Growing up, I would often hear it said of an obese person that “she was just born fat,” or “he takes after his daddy.” There’s some truth in both of those. Genetics count when it comes to obesity.

In 1988, the New England Journal of Medicine published a Danish study that observed five hundred forty people who had been adopted during infancy. The research found that adopted individuals had a much greater tendency to end up in the weight class of their biological parents rather than their adoptive parents.28 Separate studies have proven that twins raised apart also reveal that genes have a strong influence on gaining weight or becoming overweight.29 There is a significant genetic predisposition to gaining weight.

Still, that does not fully explain the epidemic of obesity seen in the United States over the past thirty years. Although an individual may have a genetic predisposition to become obese, environment plays a major role as well. I like the way author, speaker, and noted women’s physician Pamela Peeke said it: “Genetics may load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.”30 Many patients I see come into my office thinking they have inherited their “fat genes,” and therefore there is nothing they can do about it. After investigating a little, I usually find that they simply inherited their parents’ propensity for bad choices of foods, large portion sizes, and poor eating habits.

If you have been overweight since childhood, you probably have an increased number of fat cells, which means you will have a tendency to gain weight if you choose the wrong types of foods, large portion sizes, and are inactive. But you should also realize that most people can override their genetic makeup for obesity by making the correct dietary and lifestyle choices. Unfortunately, many of us forget that to make these healthy choices, it helps to surround ourselves with a healthy environment.

That is becoming more difficult than ever as families give way to their hectic routines by grabbing breakfasts-on-the-go, ordering fast-food lunches, dining out for dinner, and skipping meals. After years of this, it is catching up to us. The average American adult gains between 1 to 3 pounds a year, beginning at age twenty-five. That means a twenty-five-year-old, 120-pound female can expect to weigh anywhere from 150 to 210 pounds by the time she is fifty-five years of age. Is there any wonder why we have an epidemic of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, cancer, and other degenerative diseases? We have to put the brakes on this obesity epidemic—and a lifestyle approach to eating is the answer!

Adding Culture to the Mix

Just as environment often shapes your health habits, so does culture. The two walk hand in hand when it comes to causing obesity. As children, we develop our food preferences and habits based on our family environment. Yet every family is influenced by its surrounding culture, and culture often shapes the types of foods, recipes, and ingredients we choose on a regular basis.

I was raised in Mississippi. Ever since I was a child I remember how my mother’s coffee cup always sat on the stove in the kitchen. But instead of coffee, it was filled with bacon grease. Whenever she cooked vegetables—any kind—she would add a few tablespoons of that bacon grease to add flavor. She fried almost everything: fried chicken, fried hamburgers, fried salmon, fried fish sticks, chicken fried steaks, fried chicken livers, fried ham, fried pork chops, fried bacon . . . you name it. Why did she do this? Because her mother had taught her to fry virtually any meat.

Mom also usually made gravies, all of which were grease-based. Most meals were served with corn bread or biscuits, either of which contained a hefty amount of Crisco shortening. We rarely ate grilled food, and when we did, it was a fatty cut of meat. I still remember my father making me eat all the fat on my steak. Since I was a skinny kid, he would say, “Son, that fat is good for you—it will help to fatten you up.” I recall almost puking as I tried to get the fat down.

We were a typical Southern family. My brother, sister, and I were all raised to eat fried foods, greasy foods, biscuits, and corn bread—and top it all off with a large piece of cake or pie for dessert. Today, I see a similar thing happening in the southwestern part of the United States. This Southwest culture, which is in part defined by its Tex-Mex and Mexican eating habits, is helping to fuel the obesity epidemic. Most of these people are being raised on highly processed white breads or corn tortillas, white rice and fried white rice, corn chips, refried beans, fried tacos, enchiladas, nachos . . . the list goes on. Their diet typically contains a lot of fats, a lot of grease, a ton of highly processed carbohydrates, and a lot of sugar.

It is no coincidence that almost every year some Texas city has the unflattering distinction of having the largest number of obese individuals in the country. After Houston was named the “fattest city” multiple times in past years, 2008 saw Arlington, San Antonio, Fort Worth, El Paso, and Dallas all place among the top ten fattest cities of Men’s Fitness magazine’s “Annual Fattest and Fittest Cities in America Report.” The year before, four of those cities made the dubious honor.31 Not only do these overweight hot spots feature some of the country’s best Tex-Mex and Mexican style foods, but they also offer extra large Texas portions with a blend of some of the most calorie-dense cultural foods around. Is there any wonder why Texans have a major obesity problem?

Eating With the Head and Not the Heart

We have discussed how genetics can sometimes, though rarely, prompt an individual’s obese state. We have also talked about how the overwhelming majority of obesity cases are a direct result of environment and culture. These can be discouraging factors in light of the gloomy statistics and the ongoing epidemic. However, I want to end this chapter on a positive note by reminding you of a simple truth. In fact, it is what this book is all about.

Regardless of how difficult it sounds, your cultural tastes and foods can be changed over time with education, practice, and discipline. You can learn how to choose similar foods that have not been excessively processed as well as lower-fat alternatives. It’s possible to discover—or rediscover—portion control and healthy cooking methods. Sure, you may still love your fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and chocolate cake. But soon you will be able to enjoy the same foods with just a fraction of the fat, sugars, and calories.

When I wrote the book What Would Jesus Eat? about the Mediterranean diet, I learned that most Middle Easterners ate differently than the typical American. That sounds obvious, but what distinguishes the two isn’t. I found that those who are used to a Mediterranean diet typically would not leave the dinner table stuffed as most Americans do. Generally, they ate anything they wanted—but in moderation. They enjoyed their food and socialized while eating. They had the uncanny ability to enjoy just a few bites of their favorite foods such as wine, dark chocolate, or even chocolate ice cream. Unlike most Americans, who scarf down a dessert as if they were inhaling it, those eating a Mediterranean diet actually savored just a few bites.

The real pleasure in most foods is in the first few bites. We will discuss this later, but for now, know that you can break out of your old cultural eating patterns. You do not have to follow a parent’s poor food choices, and you can overcome your family’s eating cultural patterns. (I certainly did!) And in the process, you will discover the true joy of eating.

My Opinion:

Coming soon!

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MamaBuzz Review: "Where Do We Go?" by James F. Weinsier


About the Book:

The death of a loved one is difficult enough for an adult to understand and cope with; imagine how much more difficult it is for a child! Where Do We Go? delicately explores the theme of death in a child-friendly fashion with reassuring, thought-provoking text and cheerful illustrations. With compassion and sensitivity, James F. Weinsier addresses the age-old, complex question: Where do we go when we die?
 
In the words of Laura Duksta, author of the New York Times bestseller I Love You More, "Where Do We Go? Brings joy, play and ease to what is often an awkward conversation. Its message is a precious tool that will open the hearts and imagination of its readers to a greater awareness of love, life and beyond!"
 
Where Do We Go? is as helpful to children as it is to the adults challenged with the bewildering task of discussing death with them.

Why this book is unique:

James F. Weinsier’s child-friendly, non-secular exploration of death compatibly blends with any religious, spiritual or nondenominational framework, opening a pathway for parents, caregivers and other adults to approach the subject of death within any given belief system, while giving children the comfort they desperately need. Where Do We Go? helps them find the answers to the mystery of death within their own hearts.

My Opinion:

This book is definitely unique in it’s presentation of presenting the idea of where people go when they die and does it in easy to understand terms for children. The illustrations are colorfully done which provides plenty of detail to go along with the story and in an interesting way that will grab a child’s attention.  The illustrations take up mos of the page so the child can stay engrossed in the story and adds a little more ability to understand for the younger set.

While this book is supposed to be non-secular and can be adapted for any religious backgrounds, I know there are books that are better suited to explaining the Christian outlook on Heaven.  I can see this book being a welcome addition for those who don’t want a lot of Biblical insight into the after life or for families where death hasn’t been dealt with or discussed.  This book would be a great way to begin a conversation regarding death and then the Christian family can go on to explain their Faith.  There is mention of a reindeer sleigh (no Santa), magic carpet ride and a boy dressed as a superhero but these can be easily explained that these things aren’t real and wouldn’t have a place in Heaven.

Even with some of my reservations about this book I can say I can see it being able to be used, especially for the very young child who may have lost a loved one and isn’t old enough to grasp everything the Bible has to say.  With the parents reading this it will definitely open up discussion on the subject of death and of course what the family believes and why.  I would consider this book a definite teachable time since there is much that can be gleaned from it and related back to the Faith that we live in our home.

Publisher:      Wondrous Publications L.L.C.
                        Fernandina Beach, Florida
Price:              $12.95 U.S.
                        Softbound / Nonfiction
Size:               9.3" by 9.01" / 44 pages
ISBN:              978-0-61523-805-0
Pub Date:      2008
Website:        Good Grief Book

**  "This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by: Five Star Publications for this review."  If you’d like to learn more about my disclosure policy please see my right side bar.
 

 

 

 

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Download N Go series: Ireland


E-Book: Download N Go™- Expedition Ireland

Ireland, land of green, green grass and stone cottages tucked neatly against an ocean shore.  Okay I idealized it a little, Ireland is where I long to go and where my family hailed from.  Unfortunately, we can’t go there right now but thankfully The Old Schoolhouse and Amanda Bennett has given me a way to take my children on a virtual trip to Ireland.

In our virtual trip to Ireland we’ll get to learn:

  1. Where on Earth is Ireland?
  2. Some of the Special Places in Ireland.
  3. A Bit of History
  4. Cool things to know about Ireland.
  5. Fun and Games in Ireland

Of course there are videos included in the study of Ireland so that you’ll get to visit without the acutal cost of flying and lodging.  As always, internet links can change daily or even more often so be careful as you and your children utilize the videos in this study.  Recommended books are listed to help in the study, so more information can be gleaned – you can choose to purchase them or better yet, visit your library.  Along with recommended books there are also a couple videos that can be found at your library, if the listed books or videos can’t be found at the library you can come up with your own list.

There is a 19 page lapbook component to this study, a great way to retain information that your children have learned.  Vocabulary and mini-books about animals and Irish information are included with full color where needed, just print, cut and fill them in.  You’ll need a file folder, glue, scissors, printer, and paper so that your children will have a wonderful momento of their trip to Ireland.

If you’d like to purchase your own copy and take a trip to Ireland visit TOS’ Expedition Ireland product page.

**I was provided a copy of this e-book through The Old Schoolhouse in exchange for my honest review.  If you’d like to see a full disclosure policy see my right side bar. 

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Waterbrook Blog Tour: "Here Burns My Candle" by Liz Curtis Higgs


Book Summary:

A mother who cannot face her future.
A daughter who cannot escape her past.
 
     Lady Elisabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets. A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auld ways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within her.
     Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips.
     His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart. Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory’s many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her.
     One by one the Kerr family secrets begin to surface, even as bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh in September 1745, intent on capturing the crown.
     A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland, Here Burns My Candle illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.

About the Author:

LIZ CURTIS HIGGS is the author of twenty-seven books with three million copies in print, including: her best-selling historical novels, Thorn in My Heart, Fair Is the Rose, Christy Award-winner Whence Came a Prince, and Grace in Thine Eyes, a Christy Award finalist; My Heart’s in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland, an armchair travel guide to Galloway; and her contemporary novels, Mixed Signals, a Rita Award finalist, and Bookends, a Christy Award finalist. Visit the author’s extensive website at www.lizcurtishiggs.com.

My Opinion:

I always enjoy Liz Curtis Higgs’ books and "Here Burns My Candle" is no different.  The book is a modern but historical take on the book of Ruth from the Old Testament, and is set in Edinburgh in 1765.  The way Liz writes I feel as if I am actually walking the streets with the characters and feel that I know them personally.  The time period is not idealized but has it’s wars and its pain which is what real life but the book also gets you away from the year 2010 and into a time of relaxation as you get to know the Kerr family.

The richly accented language makes me feel as if I am hearing the villagers and merchants speak in their own tongue.  This lends a bit of authenticity, just like the Southern accents used by Margaret Mitchell in "Gone with the Wind".  This book is a wonderfully written and woven story with powerful images of family and country loyatly, loss, pain and betrayal.  So I do suggest that before you sit down with this book gather a wool, plaid throw, a good cup of coffee and dig in!  Through this book the book of Ruth and the story of Ruth and Noami take on new meaning in light of a more modern telling but still does not take away from the beauty of the Biblical account.

I must caution though against young and unmarried women reading this as there are allusions to the marriage relationship as well as the, um, dallyances of Lady Kerr’s husband.  For me, since this was what young men, including married men, did this is a factual part of history (even in the Bible) although I don’t look favorably on this behavior I can see it from a historical point of view.  For me, this did not detract from the beauty of Liz Curtis Higgs’ writing though and added more accuarteness for the historical time period.

**This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.  My full disclosure is found on the right side bar.

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FIRST tour: "Scars and Stilettos: The Transformation of an Exotic Dancer" by Harmony Dust


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:

Harmony Dust

and the book:

Scars and Stilettos : The Transformation of an Exotic Dancer

Monarch (December 18, 2009)

***Special thanks to Cat Hoort, Trade Marketing Manager, of Kregel Publications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Harmony Dust founded and leads Treasures, a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles that helps women in the sex industry to make healthy life choices. She and her husband John have a young daughter.

Visit the author’s FaceBook.
Visit the author’s MySpace.
Visit the author’s YouTube.
Visit the author’s ministry.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 252 pages
Publisher: Monarch (December 18, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825463092
ISBN-13: 978-0825463099

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The haze of dusk was a soft blanket over my green Honda Civic as I drove the familiar route to the Los Angeles Airport. How many times had I taken this freeway? This exit? On autopilot, I changed lanes smoothly and rounded the bend towards Century Boulevard. I was going in the same direction I had always gone, but I might as well have been in a parallel universe to the one I lived in six years before.

I glanced at the clock in my car: 5:45 pm… Always early.

My husband’s plane wouldn’t land for another 15 minutes. I decided to wait in the Taco Bell parking lot down the street.

I missed him. For the first year of our marriage I went on tour with him. We traveled from city to city in dusty rental cars, eating lunch at truck stops and fast-food chains. I sold his Pigeon John T-shirts and CDs at the product table, while he rocked the stage for a steadily growing fan base of nerds and ex-nerds, hip-hop heads and youth groups. I was happy to do so. It was a lifestyle that appealed to the bohemian Venice girl in me.

‘I want your dreams to come true, too,’ he said to me on the night of our honeymoon.

My dreams. What were my dreams? Driving through Nebraskan corn fields and the dim streets of Baltimore on our way to shows, I found myself pondering this question. One moment I was exploring the possibilities; the next I was filling out an application to join the program for the Master’s in Social Welfare at the University of California at Los Angeles. My new role as a full-time graduate-school student meant leaving behind the life on the road with my husband.

He had only been gone for a few days, but I couldn’t wait to kiss his handsome, caramel face.

Driving down Century, I saw the sign in the distance. The words ‘Live Live Nude Nudes’ hung in muted, orange and red 1970s-style lettering. You’d think with all the razzle-dazzle strip clubs popping up everywhere, this one would wither and die and go back to being something more functional, as it was when it was a bowling alley. But it’s still there. And so are the girls.

I wondered about my old co-workers. Had they moved on to other clubs, or other lives, or were they still there?

I remembered that life: the suffocating feeling of being trapped, with no end in sight; wanting the money, needing it, but wishing there were some other legal way to get it. The constant pressure to smile, and pretend you want nothing more than to fulfill every wish and fantasy of a stranger, when all you really want to do is lie around your apartment in sweat pants, watching mafia movies like Goodfellas and Casino – imagining you could live some other life.

I remembered, and all I could do was pray: that the women behind those very walls, feeling as I once did, would have a real and true encounter with the loving, gracious, God of freedom and wonder that I have come to know. That they would discover the beauty that lies within them that is more precious than the rarest gem. That they would realize that the dreams of their youth and the passions of their hearts are important, and within reach.

The driver in front of me gently pressed his brakes, snapping me out of the trance I was in. I glanced in my rear view mirror, and saw that I had passed the Taco Bell parking lot I was planning to pull in to. Instead, I parked in a lot directly across the street from the club, turned my car off, and sat staring. There are girls in there right now, I thought.

What are you going to do? A voice whispered to my heart. What could I do? I felt as though I was outside a prison that had once held me captive. I was free, while there were still women feeling trapped inside. There was a stand-off: I was still, waiting for something to happen. For the other guy, for some other person, to come up with something: a solution; an idea; anything.

What are you going to do? What can I do? It’s not like I can waltz up there and tell the bouncer I want to talk to the girls. Even if he did let me in, what on earth would I say?

What do you want to say?

I glanced to my left and discovered a stack of postcards from a recent women’s conference I had attended. The woman pictured was facing away from the camera, looking confidently ahead. Her back was draped with strands of pearls. Tattooed across the warm brown skin of her shoulder blades were the words, ‘Her value… far above rubies and pearls.’

That is what I wanted to say. That is exactly what I wanted the women in that club to hear. Hands shaking, I grabbed the stack of postcards and began writing on the back of each one:

‘I was just driving by and wanted to tell you that you are loved…’

What else?

‘If you are ever interested in going to church, I know of a great one: http://www.oasisla.org.

You are welcome there!

Love, Harmony

PS: I used to work here too.’

When I first started dancing, even if I wanted to go to church, it would never have occurred to me that a church would have me. Still sitting in the car, my legs were heavy and stiff as I held the postcards in my hands. I wondered if I was doing the right thing. Would people think I was crazy for going back there?

I called my mother-in-law. If I am insane, she’ll tell me so, I thought. Her voice was deep and soothing like a mama bear; her words steady and careful, as she encouraged and prayed with me. It was settled; I wasn’t crazy.

I approached the parking lot and there, scattered between orange cones, were the dancers’ cars. ‘My’ spot was among them. Each night, when the security saw my car pulling into the lot, he removed the orange cone and motioned me into the space nearest the dancers’ entrance. Someone else was parked there now. As I approached the first car, a large man wearing a dark blue security jacket stepped out of the porn shop adjoining the club. Security: I hadn’t thought of that. I wasn’t sure he would let me go through with it.

The words Go in confidence radiated from within me. Before the security guard could even open his mouth, I briskly approached him and stuck out my hand.

‘Hi. My name is Harmony. I used to work here. I just wanted to leave these little notes for the girls.’ I whipped out the postcards and presented them to him. He looked at them and back at me. Tilting his head, he seemed caught off guard by the whole thing.

‘All right; go ahead,’ he said, as he waved me along and went back into the porn shop.

Quickly, before he changed his mind, I placed each postcard on the windshields of the dancers’ cars. I wondered what they would think when they found the postcards at the end of the night. What would I have thought?

As I headed to the airport terminal to pick up my husband, I imagined myself walking to my car after a long night of work: feet aching, head throbbing from six hours of pounding music. How would I feel if I entered the buzzing silence of my car and saw that little postcard sitting beneath my windshield wiper?

‘You are loved… You are welcome here.’ Aren’t those the  words I had always longed to hear? That is all I ever wanted… to be loved and welcomed. Isn’t that what we all want?

When I pulled up to the airport terminal, I saw my husband standing there, leaning on his luggage. Always dapper, his vintage-looking Kangol hat was tipped slightly to one side. I hopped out of the car and threw my arms around him, nuzzling my face into his warm neck.

‘Missed you.’

‘Missed you, too.’

We got in the car and headed home.

‘John, you are never going to believe what I just did…’

I recounted the story, and he listened encouragingly.

‘That’s cool, babe. That’s really cool,’ he said, while affectionately squeezing my fingers one by one.

‘Yeah. I mean the whole thing has me thinking… maybe I can do that every time I come to pick you up at the airport. Or every time I pass by a strip club. Do you think other girls would want to do this too? This could be the start of something,’ I rattled on.

We had no idea that within a year a group of volunteers would be going to over 150 strip clubs annually. That we would be walking alongside women, encouraging them to live the healthy, flourishing lives they were created to live. That within two years we would be an official non-profit organization. That four years later we would be training other outreach groups throughout the nation.

The idea I had that night sitting in the parking lot has expanded and become more than I ever dreamed possible. No matter how much it has grown and changed, the message is still the same…

‘You are loved. You are welcome here.’ In our churches, in our lives.

This very message was first breathed like oxygen into my heart during a time when I needed it most in my own life. My passion to share it was born out of my own broken past. This is my story.

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