Monday, February 23, 2009


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Age before Beauty, book 2 in the Sister-to-Sister Series

Revell (February 1, 2009)


Virginia Smith is the author of eight novels, including Age before Beauty, Stuck in the Middle, and A Taste of Murder. In 2008 she was named Writer of the Year at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A popular retreat speaker, Ginny keeps audiences enthralled with her high-energy presentations. She and her husband, Ted, divide their time between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Revell (February 1, 2009)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0800732332

ISBN-13: 978-0800732332


The mirror had to be warped. That was the only explanation for the image staring back at Allie from its treacherous surface. Her thighs couldn’t be that wide, her belly that flabby. Could glass warp? Of course not. But the weather so far this fall had been wetter than normal, following a horribly humid Kentucky summer. All that dampness wreaked havoc on the wooden front door at Gram’s house. And this mirror had a wood frame. That had to be it.

But the warping seemed only to be in the middle, like one of those fun-house mirrors. She squinted down at her pink toenails. Her feet looked normal. Her face looked okay. Pretty good, even. This was the first time she’d put on makeup in weeks, and a little color worked wonders. She could use a haircut, though the dark blonde layers falling in waves to rest on her shoulders managed to hold the extra length well.

She blew her bangs out of her eyes. Actually, the long hair made her face look fuller, and that offset some of the width of her hips. Which needed the help, especially now that she got a good look at them wearing only a nursing bra and panties. If she cut some of the volume out of her hair, she’d look like one of those toys she and Joan and Tori played with as kids. What were they called? Weebles. She’d look like Mother Weeble.

She swayed from side to side, eyeing her oversized bottom half as she sang the toy’s jingle. “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.”

“Did you say something?”

Allie whirled to find Eric standing in the bedroom doorway, a grin twitching at his mouth. She felt a blush creep up her neck. Though he was the world’s most awesome husband and devoted new daddy, she still felt awkward parading her postmaternity body around in front of him. A flabby belly covered in stretch marks was soooo sexy.

“How long have you been standing there?”

His voice dropped an octave as his smile deepened. “Long enough to admire my beautiful wife.”

No mistaking that husky tone. She snatched her jeans off the bed. “Don’t get frisky, lover boy. My sister will be here any minute.”

Eric’s lips twisted. “Story of my life lately.”

Allie crossed the room and placed a tender kiss on his cheek. “I’m sorry my family is here so often. They just don’t want to miss a day with the baby. She’s growing so fast.”

“I know, I know.” He grinned. “But tonight I get Joanie all to myself. Our first father-daughter date.”

Allie sat on the edge of the bed and slipped her feet into the jeans, avoiding Eric’s eyes. He had been looking forward to this evening for a full week, ever since Joan invited her to go to a stupid party where some fanatical woman would try to force her to buy something she didn’t want and for which she had no use. If only Joan hadn’t asked in front of Eric, she would have turned the invitation down without a second thought. But he had insisted it was time she took her first outing without the baby.

Pulling the waistband up around her knees, she gave Eric a worried look. “Are you sure you’ll be okay? She’s only taken a bottle a few times, you know. She might cry.”

“I’ll deal with it.”


He held up a finger. “No buts. She’s five weeks old. In three weeks she’ll be taking a bottle at the daycare center when you go back to work. She needs to get used to it.”

Tears stung Allie’s eyes, and she looked away so Eric wouldn’t see. “I guess you’re right.”

“Of course I am. Now finish getting dressed while I go wind the baby swing again.”

He left, and Allie sat staring at the handwoven rug in front of their bed. Three weeks. Then she’d have to leave her precious little Joanie in the hands of a total stranger.

If only . . .

She jerked the shirt over her head. No. One of the things she and Eric had talked about before they got married was how they’d handle life after they started having children. She’d insisted on laying it all out, because Eric’s mother had been a stay-at-home mom, and Allie wanted to make absolutely sure he didn’t have the same expectations. Her toenail caught the edge of her sock as she tugged it up, and she hissed with pain. No way would she become one of those women relegated to a dull life of child rearing. She was a career woman—the second sock followed the first—with a college degree and plans for her professional future. She liked her job, liked the independence it gave her. Besides, they agreed on having two incomes so they could afford things like nice clothes and good cars and vacations at the beach.

But that was before she’d had a baby.

If only there was some way she could pursue her career and keep her daughter at home. She had quietly investigated every work-from-home scheme she could find lately, but all of them sounded more like scams than jobs.

Banishing the tears, she stood. No sense crying about it. She had no option. In three weeks she’d return to her job as a team leader at the social services office. She might even be able to recapture some of the excitement and ambition she’d felt before she got pregnant. At the moment, though, it sounded like a life sentence with no chance of parole.

She pulled her jeans up over her knees. This was the first pair of zippered pants she’d tried to wear since Joanie’s birth, having lived in sweats and oversized T-shirts once she put away the maternity clothes. Wiggling her hips back and forth, she inched them upward. Come on, come on, they had to fit. They were her biggest jeans, stretchy and so loose that she’d worn them all the way up to her fifth month of pregnancy. Just a little farther . . .

Ugh. She panted from the effort. But at least she’d managed to get them pulled all the way up.

Now the zipper. Suck that gut in. Pull hard. Harder. She hopped up and down, tugging at the waistband. Okay, if the zipper wouldn’t go all the way to the top, it didn’t matter. She’d just wear her shirttail out. Everybody did these days. As long as she could get the button fastened.

There! They fit! She was wearing pre-baby Levis! Well, sort of.

She stepped up to the mirror and bit back a gasp.

The stupid thing had to be warped.


“Hey, look at you all dressed up.” Joan stood on the doorstep, car keys clutched in one hand. “You look great.”

Allie scowled and tried not to think of the jeans she could almost wear shoved in the back of her bottom drawer. “These are maternity pants. Nothing else fits.”

“Oh.” Joan’s smile drooped a fraction, then brightened again. “But that’s not a maternity shirt. And turquoise is totally your color.”

Her eyes shifted to a point inside the room, then she practically bowled Allie over as she rushed toward the swing to snatch up the baby. Sighing, Allie closed the door. So much for Joanie’s nap.

Allie tried to ignore a wave of insecurity as she admired her sister’s slim frame, the way her jeans fit without a single bulge. Straight dark hair fell forward to tickle the baby’s face as Joan cooed at her slumbering namesake while she unfastened the safety strap. Soft baby noises answered as little Joanie’s eyelids fluttered open. Allie clasped her hands together to keep from taking the infant from her middle sister’s arms. She was so sweet when she first woke. Tiny fists rose above her head and she kicked her legs out to their full length and arched her back to stretch.

“Look at her! I swear she’s grown an inch since the last time I saw her.”

Allie answered dryly. “I doubt that, since you came over yesterday.” She held her hands out. “Here, let me change her.”

Joan clutched the baby closer. “I’ll do it.”

With a sigh, Allie followed her sister into the nursery. Bright pink daisies on fields of green bordered the white walls and also decorated lacy curtains and crib bedding. Joan laid Joanie on a daisy-covered pad atop the changing table. While she unsnapped the pink onesie, Allie took a diaper from the stacker and popped open the plastic cap on the wipes. The sweet smell of baby powder was quickly replaced with a less pleasant odor when Joan peeled the tape off the dirty diaper.

Eric stuck his head through the doorway as Allie pulled out a wipe and handed it to Joan. “Whew, I’m glad you girls got that out of the way before you left. Of course, the way this little piggie eats, I probably have at least one unpleasant surprise in store tonight.”

“Don’t worry.” Allie dropped the soiled bundle into the Diaper Genie and twisted the knob. “We won’t be gone very long. I’m sure we’ll be back for the next dirty diaper.”

“I’m kidding, Allie. You know I don’t mind taking care of my girl.” He leaned over and buried a kiss in Joanie’s chubby neck, eliciting a gurgle and an excited waving of arms and legs.

Joan snapped the onesie back in place over the fresh diaper and picked up the squirming infant. Allie stepped forward to take her, but instead Joan thrust her into Eric’s arms.

“It’s time to go. I don’t want to be late.” With a meaningful glance in Allie’s direction, she marched out of the room, Eric right behind her with Joanie hugged tightly to his chest.

Left alone in the nursery, Allie fought a wave of panic that caused her throat to tighten with unshed tears. Cheerful daisies mocked her. She knew this feeling, had sensed the edges of it creeping toward her all day. The moment had come. After five weeks of constantly being in Joanie’s presence, she was about to leave her in someone else’s care.

Don’t be ridiculous. She scrubbed at her eyes with the back of her hand. Joanie wasn’t staying with a stranger. She was staying with her daddy! He’d watched her many times while Allie enjoyed a long bath or a nap.

But what if she cries? What if she misses me?

She started toward the living room, and then stopped short as an even more distressing thought struck her. What if she doesn’t even notice I’m gone?

“Allie, are you coming?”

Joan’s voice propelled her feet into motion. She would not think about that.

“I’m ready.”

One step took her from the hallway into their tiny living room, where Eric had deposited Joanie on the mat beneath her baby gym. Allie fought to suppress a wave of regret when chubby infant hands waved with erratic enthusiasm at the dangling toys, and happy coos filled the room. It had only been in the past few days that she’d started noticing the toys. She was growing so fast, changing every day. What if she did something really cool for the first time tonight, while Allie wasn’t here to see it? She dropped to her knees and showered Joanie’s face with goodbye kisses.

“There are a couple of bottles all ready to go in the fridge,” she told Eric. “Run hot water over them to warm them. Don’t use the microwave.”

Eric stood and pulled her up with him. “I won’t.” He planted a kiss on her cheek.

“She ate two hours ago, so she’ll probably be hungry around eight. If she gets fussy before—”

Joan grabbed her arm and steered her forcefully toward the front door. “Come along, Mother. It’s time to go.”

Thoughts of all the terrible things that could happen pummeled her mind like giant hailstones. She pulled away and whirled toward Eric. “Don’t give her a bath until I get home. You know how slippery she is when she’s soapy.”

He put his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face the door. “Stop worrying. We’ll be fine. Now go have a good time.” A gentle shove pushed her forward.

From the porch, Joan seized her and jerked her through the doorway. Allie shook her off and spun around to remind Eric to put the baby’s sweater on because the house would cool when the sun went down, but the front door slammed shut in her face. Tears welled in her eyes.

“You’re pathetic.” Joan folded her arms across her chest and leveled an unsympathetic look on her.

Allie sniffled. “It’s the first time we’ve been apart in five weeks.”

“Then it’s about time you gave the poor kid some breathing room.” She shook her head. “You’re becoming one of those hovering mothers. I can totally see you stalking her on the kindergarten playground during recess.”

Actually, Allie didn’t see a problem with dropping by to check on your kids during the day, but in the face of Joan’s sardonic expression, she didn’t dare mention it. Instead she lifted a chin. “I will not be a hovering mother.”

A snort blasted from her sister’s nose. “I know my big sister. You’ll hover like a helicopter.”

Her head held high, Allie marched past Joan toward the driveway. “I thought you didn’t want to be late.”

She rubbed her hands on her arms. It was a chilly fifty degrees, and the orange October sun was rapidly dropping toward the horizon. They’d shoved her out the door without a jacket, but she didn’t dare go back inside now or she’d never hear the end of it. Serve them both right if she caught pneumonia and died.

For more information about Age before Beauty, visit

Used by permission of Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, copyright ©2009. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Milk Money by Cecelia Dowdy

Milk Money by Cecelia Dowdy
ISBN: 978-1-60260-255-7
Heartsong Presents Title #826
Publication Date: January 2009

Hi, Cecelia! Thanks for stopping by my blog to talk about your latest book from Heartsong Presents, Milk Money. Before we get into the story, please tell us what makes your heroine, Emily Cooper, a feisty female character worthy of being here on the "She's Got Character" blog!

Emily is strong-willed, intelligent, and fights for what she believes in. She wants to keep her family farm and she'll do whatever it takes to keep it, because it's her family's livelihood. Most of all, she has a strong faith in God. She prayerfully takes all of her burdens to the Lord!

Okay, she sounds interesting! So what's Milk Money all about?

Here’s a brief summary of the novel:
Running a dairy farm is a big job, but doing it alone is almost impossible.
When her dad dies, Emily must work hard to save the family farm, but she manages. Until the day the CPA pulls in her drive and announces he’s there to do an audit on the place.
Franklin Reese is appalled at the lack of interest Emily has in the financial end of her livelihood, but he dives in, determined to assess the farm and do his job. But Emily Cooper begins to draw his attention more than he likes. And the further he looks into Mr. Cooper’s dealings, the more uncomfortable he becomes.
Can he uncover the truth of the situation and still earn the love of the amazing Emily Cooper? Will his addiction to alcohol keep them apart, even after the farm is taken care of? Only God can heal hurting hearts and repair broken lives.

Your hero, Franklin, is an unsaved alcoholic and the heroine, Emily, is Christian. What particular challenges did this relationship present?

His being an alcoholic, and not being saved, created a very strong challenge with their relationship. Emily is a Christian and she knows how the Lord feels about being unequally yoked with a non-believer. Frank drinks alcohol to dull the emotional pain he’s suffered since his wife was killed. In spite of this, their attraction continues to grow, yet Emily knows they can’t be together romantically. It creates an interesting conflict in the novel.

Emily is running the family dairy farm alone since her father died. What kind of research did you need to do about dairy farming for this story?

In my novel’s dedication, I mention The Higgins family. I visited their small family dairy farm during their evening milking and it was an…interesting and smelly experience! While Mr. Higgins milked those large black and white Holsteins I asked him a plethora of questions about dairy farming. I also observed what he was doing, comparing his actions to what I’d researched on my own. I also milked a cow! I read some books about dairy farming and wanted to point out that if you know NOTHING about a subject, it’s best to start simple to get a basic understanding of the subject. Reading a lot of children’s books about dairy farming really helped me. I’ve used this method (reading children’s books) to research other occupations, too.

What do you hope people take away when they finish reading Milk Money?
I hope their faith in God is strengthened when they read my story.

What’s next for you in the writing arena?

I have another Heartsong Presents novel being released in June 2009 entitled Bittersweet Memories. Here’s a brief summary of my next release:
Karen Brown is angry at God, and at herself, for falling in love with Lionel Adams, her ex-fiancĂ©. When her beloved suddenly disappears, along with thousands of dollars stolen from their mega-church, she re-locates back to her hometown in Annapolis Maryland to live with her mother, and to heal from her traumatic experience. However, she’s stunned to discover handsome plumber Keith Baxter living next door.
Keith is smitten with Karen, but wonders if she’s still in love with Lionel. He wants Karen to accept him into her life, but he doesn’t know if he’d be a good match for her due to his troubled past. Can Karen forgive Lionel, and let the Lord back into her heart? Can she let herself fall in love with Keith Baxter?

You are very well traveled. Of all the places you’ve visited, which is your favorite?

I love any tropical place with a nice beach with clear blue water! Places like Tahiti, parts of Mexico, and the Cayman Islands are my favorites.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Probably that I used to travel the world by myself! You have to be careful doing that though. When you go to those tropical islands and men see you traveling alone, they’ll try and make a pass at you!

What’s your favorite thing to read for pure enjoyment?
Just about any type of Christian fiction. AlthoughI tend to prefer Christian women’s fiction and Christian romance novels.

Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
You can find out more news about me through my blog and website: and

Thanks again for being here, Cecelia, it was great to chat with you.

Readers: To get Milk Money at the low price of just $2.97 click HERE

Saturday, February 14, 2009

He's Got Character, Too!

Purity on the Line

Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law.
Proverbs 29:18 NASB

A dear friend, Pat Orton, who once worked closely with me at FamilyLife, wrote me a letter several years ago to tell me about a line her parents had drawn in the sand for her as a teenager.

The waistline.

Pat's mom and dad told her that whenever she was out with a young man, the only place he was allowed to touch her was on her back, from her shoulder to her waist. Anywhere else on her body was totally off-limits. And never--never ever--was he to put his hand on her knee. It was a way for her to know--immediately--that if a boy's hands ever strayed out of bounds, watch out! This was leading to trouble!

Funny what boundaries can do once they are clearly established. Crossing them is still quite possible, of course, but not without knowing you're breaking trust. And for Pat and her boyfriend-turned-fiancé, this simple, clearly defined expectation remained in force throughout their four-year courtship.

Back only. Shoulder to waistline. Nothing further . . . until their wedding day. As they pulled away from the church on their way to their honeymoon, he tenderly reached over and placed his hand on her knee. "I've been waiting four years to do that!" he said with a grin so big it made her smile, too.

Isn't that just delightful? What purity! What innocence! What a testimony to the joy we help our children preserve for themselves when we draw the right boundaries, enforce the right restrictions and keep an eye out for their obedience.

That's how to start a marriage. And Mom and Dad, that's what you're here to help happen.

What kind of boundaries are you challenging your children to keep with the opposite sex?

Pray that God will keep you cautious, even when the last thing in the world you want to do is lay down the law.

Buy Moments with You

Sunday, February 8, 2009

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Husband Project

Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2009)


Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker, currently speaking more than 45 times each year to thousands of women. Lipp is also a contributing author to two bestselling books: Humor for a Woman’s Heart 2 and Lists to Live By: The Christian Collection. She also has had articles published in several magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Discipleship Journal. Kathi and her husband, Roger, are the parents of four teenagers and live in California.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 208 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2009)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736925228

ISBN-13: 978-0736925228


Why the Husband Project?

“Kathi, a couple of us need to quit the project.”

I couldn’t believe what Angela was saying. Quit the Husband Project? We’d just started that weekend.

“Ang, are you kidding me? Why do you want to quit already?” There was no way things could be going downhill so quickly.

“I was talking to some of the other girls, and because we’re being so nice, our husbands are becoming suspicious. They think we’re all having affairs!”

Apparently, there’s a bigger need for the Husband Project than even I could have expected.

The Beginning of the Husband Project

At my busy church in San Jose, California, I serve in a variety of roles. Some of the roles I have played have been on the programming team with my husband, Roger, who is the director of the Worship Arts Ministry, leading Bible studies and small groups and taking meals to people who are sick or having babies. But my favorite role by far is mentoring women.

The girls I mentor are smart, funny, and committed to serving God. They really are amazing. However, like most wives I know, they have a tendency to “share” about their husbands.

“He’s never home. I feel like I’m single – but with an extra person to clean up after.”

“Why is it when he’s watching our kids it’s babysitting?”

“We used to be romantic, but now our idea of romance is reading take-out menus together.”

The “sharing” started to concern me. I wasn’t judging these girls; trust me. I found myself slipping every once in a while – saying something “endearing” about my husband while rolling my eyes.

A Change in Perspective

I know the importance of loving and honoring my husband, and like every other lesson in my life, I learned it the hard way. (Why can’t I ever learn things while eating chocolates and shopping…?)

I married in my early twenties’ with two babies came along shortly after the marriage vows. In retrospect, I can see that as soon as discovered the wonders of a Diaper Genie, my concentration shifted from my husband to the day-to-day care of my kids. With a full-time job thrown in, the goal of making my husband feel special dropped way down on my priority list.

After a very painful marriage and divorce, I am now remarried to an amazing guy. When new friends meet him they say, “Oh, so this is Prince Charming!” He’s a great father and step dad, and loves me and his God and indulges my passion for fat-free coconut yogurt on a regular basis. I really couldn’t ask for a better guy.

And, yet, like a great pair of comfortable flip flops, he’s sometimes easy to take him for granted. He’s always there - not demanding anything of me. He can fix his own frozen pizza when I am too busy to cook and can even wash his own socks in a pinch. When work deadlines loom and kids have dozens of activities, I sometimes let my relationship with Rog fall to sixth or seventh on my “Hey, pay attention to me!” list.

Have you noticed our culture has a one-way expectation that men should give women what they “need” (sending flowers to work, doing his share of the dirty work around the house, being a great dad, remembering and celebrating anniversaries) without asking for anything in return? But, as we know, this fantasy man isn’t real a husband, it’s a character in a dime store romance novel.

The kind of marriage I want is one in which we’re both doing all we can to honor and love each other, putting each other’s needs above our own.

Philippians 2:3-4 says it best: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

I want this for both of us. The reality is, however, I only have control over my own actions.

Enter the Husband Project

I tried different ideas with some of my friends at church – a variety of “husband encouragement programs.” Most seemed like a lot of work and not much fun. You see, I have the attention span of a third-grader who’s just spent six straight hours on X-Box. So I needed something short, doable and exciting. We, as stressed-out and over-worked wives and moms, don’t need to feel burdened by another line on our to-do lists.

So I started thinking and praying about what would truly make my husband feel loved (and maybe even lucky to be married to me.) I made up a list and began practicing on Roger. Some of the ideas (buying him a gift card to his favorite restaurant and surprising him with an impromptu date) were big hits. Others (like opening mystery clues for an all day adventure) were, let’s say, less than successful.

After several flops (hey, I thought the guys at his work would think that his lunch sack covered in hearts was adorable…) I finally got desperate. I asked him, “Okay, what would make you feel loved?” (And yes, I felt pretty pathetic to be asking.) After showing him the list, he gave me thumbs up or down on several of the items. I now had a much clearer plan in place. No, cookies in the shapes of bunnies were not necessary. Homemade raw cookie dough, however, was a big thumbs up. Yes, I asked the questions. I have gone where women fear to tread. I am in possession of the knowledge of what men (or at least my man) like.

This is how The Husband Project was born.

The premise is simple:

You, and two other friends (your accountability partners) commit to bless your husbands everyday for three weeks, in secret.

That’s it. Pretty simple, granted. But not always easy.

No Cookie-Cutter Marriages

While working on the Projects, I talked with friends of all ages, in very different marital situations.

Some of my friends were in the oh-so-romantic stage of marriage. You’re just done in by how beautifully he shaves. As you pick up his clothes from the bedroom floor, you just can’t help but giggle at how adorable it is that he never puts anything away.

On the other side of the spectrum, I have girlfriends who cannot stand to be in the same room with their husbands while they’re breathing. The “inhale, exhale” is enough to make them want to take up residence at a nice studio apartment in town.

And then, there are the other 94% of us.

We’re the ones who love our husbands but have fallen into a comfortable routine. (Comfortable often meaning, you don’t bug me and I won’t bug you.) We’re partners in parenting and contributors to financial matters. We’ve negotiated the household chores (I’ll do the dishes if you keep the car from making funny noises,) and keep each other on schedule for the dentist and the occasional oil change.

We like our husbands, for the most part. And they like us, for the most part. While this is okay, it’s definitely not what we were anticipating as we planned our weddings and dreamed about our happily-ever-after lives.

I have to admit, I’m writing this book for me and my friends – the 94% who want better relationships with our men and are willing to be creative, thoughtful, and possibly daring enough to break out some lingerie to get it.

“But He Doesn’t Even Notice”

Some women who have tried the Projects for a few days wondered if it’s even worth it. After doing several of the Projects, they complained that their husbands have barely noticed.

So, if you’re wearing your cute jeans to meet your husband in the evenings, leaving bags of gummi bears for him in his car, and wearing shorter and shorter lingerie to bed each night without comment from your man, don’t be discouraged.

Working The Husband Project is a lot like working on your prayer life. For example, I recently committed to setting aside a chunk of time daily to pray. As I devote more time to prayer and meditation, I’m realizing that my requests are less about asking God to make things go my way, and more about asking God to change my heart to follow Him and His plans for me.

This project is as much about changing our attitudes as it is about blessing our husbands. It’s great to get positive reinforcement, and when you do, write it down so you can remember it and tailor the way that you show your love in the future.

But even when your husband says nothing, you have the knowledge that you have actively shown him love and support. That’s the true gift of The Husband Project.

If you still need some affirmation (and who doesn’t?) look for it in other healthy places. In my case I have a friend, Lynn, who sends me a small gift whenever I complete a goal for writing. Even if I don’t sell an article, I still have the hope of some great Snoopy stickers in the mail.

Ask your accountability partners to celebrate your successes with you. Perhaps, if each of you does your daily project for seven days, you give each other a $5 Starbucks card, or if you do all 21 days, you all spend an afternoon together at the spa. Be creative, as it says in Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” A grande latte could be an excellent way to start.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Valentine Edition

The Wild Rose Press (January 16, 2009)


In Robin's words:

I am the Special Education Coordinator for Denton County Juvenile Justice Alternative Program. I work with at risk teens from fifth grade through high school. My husband and I have been married for thirty-one years and we have two grown children. The first two years of marriage, Rick and I traveled overseas as missionaries. Afterwards we served as pastors of a church in Illinois. Presently we live near Dallas, Texas. He is in business and I work for the school system. (My husband still makes yearly mission trips to India.)

To date, my literary works include approximately two hundred articles in magazines such as: Guideposts, Live, Lookout, Mennonite, Christian Reader, Decision, Breakthrough and Christianity Today. Other short stories appear in the books: A Match Made in Heaven, Stories from the Heart, The Evolving Woman, and the New York Times bestseller, In The Arms of Angels by Joan Wester-Anderson. Ann Spangler also used one of my stories in her book, Help! I Can’t Stop Laughing. Another two-dozen stories have been published in the Chicken Soup books. One story, Mom’s Last Laugh, was re-enacted for a PAX-TV program: It’s a Miracle. I co-authored a thriller, The Chase, for Revell. My second book, The Replacement, was released in June 2006. The Candidate was released July, 2007. I continue to publish short stories in magazines. Wildcard, a mystery, will be a spring 2009 release. The Christmas Edition released Nov. 20. The Valentine Edition released in January 2009.

Visit the author's shoutlife and website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press (January 16, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601544847
ISBN-13: 978-1601544841


January 2

Jodi Williams sighed for the hundredth time as she waved goodbye to the Chicago skyline, catching the last of the city in her car’s rearview mirror. Dreams of working at The Tribune were dead right along with drinking green tea latte’s at Starbucks anytime she wanted.

Hope behind her.

The unknown ahead.

She steered toward Wisconsin. An hour later, Jodi looked out the window at the open fields of frozen ground and cows standing along snowy fences. The comparison between her two lives—the previous and the present—were startling.

Jodi attempted to shift her body in the seat but was pretty well anchored into the one position with her belongings crammed into the compact car from the trunk to the front. The turn-by-turn directions she had printed out were hard to follow since not all the roads were actually marked in this neck of the country. She decided to refer to them as mystery turns. Finally, Jodi pulled over to the shoulder and unfolded the road map to try to figure it out one more time. According to her calculations, she was almost there.

She looked around again and there it was, the Welcome to Turtle Creek sign, less than five feet ahead. Snickering at herself, she put her car back in drive, turned on her signal and pulled back onto the road. Soon she passed Ma’s Diner on the left and zoomed past one block of storefronts realizing that was all there was of town. “It’s worse than I imagined.”

Watching for the turn that would take her directly to the newspaper, she nearly missed seeing the small-bedraggled dog that darted out right in front of her. Startled, Jodi swerved and hit her brakes as her heart palpitated hard in her chest. It was a foolhardy maneuver that nearly landed her in the ditch but she felt it was worth the risk since she didn’t feel or hear a thud against the tires. After she came to a complete stop, Jodi peered over her steering wheel. She frantically looked to her left and right. The dog wasn’t in sight. She had to find the little thing. It was unsafe for it to be running around loose like this. What kind of people let a little dog roam free anyway? Jodi caught her negative thought and softened. Maybe the dog was lost and the family was searching at this very moment.

Jodi checked both lanes of traffic. Then she pulled up hard on the door handle, swiveled in her seat and set both feet on the ice. Gingerly stepping out to search for the animal, she was thankful no vehicle appeared from either direction. She walked around the car feeling the snow and ice seep into her leather shoes.

She finally found what she was looking for; the dog sat shivering under a bush. Fearful-looking eyes studied her approach. With matted hair and sad eyes, it looked unloved and unwanted, pulling at her heart.

“Hey there little one,” Jodi bent down. “Don’t be afraid. Let me help you.” When she held out her hand, the dog took off like a rocket, past her and right for the road. From a blanket of snowy air, a car appeared. It careened down the road traveling much too fast for the conditions. Jodi frantically called to the dog, “Come to me, come to me!” But instead of obeying, it sat down. “Now is no time to be stubborn!”

Jodi couldn’t watch. She shut her eyes and turned away from the awful sound of squealing brakes, the thump of the dog and the whimper. When she opened her eyes, she saw the poor thing lying still on its side. Jodi ran to it as the angry driver rolled down his window and yelled, “Watch your dog!”

“Watch where you’re going!” Jodi shot back and ignored him as he drove off. Without thinking about the cold or the possibility of being bitten, Jodi yanked off her coat and carefully placed it around the injured animal. “It’s all right; I’m just trying to help you. It’s okay.”

Gingerly, she held the dog just as a pickup truck came rolling toward them. Oh, no, not again. The road was too icy for her to get out of its way in time. She gripped the dog to her chest, said a prayer and hoped for the best. The tires splashed icy muck on her skirt. To her surprise, the driver was able to slow and come to a complete stop within inches of her frame. On the side of the truck was written Veterinarian Clinic Turtle Creek, Wisconsin—Josh Thomas.

“Is everything okay?” The man inside rolled down his window.

“No, everything is just terrible. The dog was hit.” Jodi started to cry.

“I’ll help.” He checked his side mirrors before parking on the shoulder of the road and then got out of the truck. Jodi noticed the man was her extreme opposite. He stood at least six foot two, weighed about two-fifty, where she was only a couple of inches over five feet and half his weight. His hair was the kind a woman longed to run her fingers through—thick, black and straight.

Wind blew snow into Jodi’s face. She rubbed her eyes and then brushed her curly auburn hair from
her face, making sure the kind stranger wasn’t an illusion.

After grabbing a mid-sized crate from the back of his truck, he walked over to where Jodi stood shivering in the cold wind holding her bundle. “Let’s get the dog to my clinic. Do you want to put it in the crate, or should I?”

“I’ll do it.” Feeling protective now, Jodi put the dog inside, leaving it wrapped in her coat. Doing a double take, he asked, “I guess I should introduce myself. I’m Josh Thomas. Are you all right?”

He touched her shoulder. It felt reassuring and made her cry harder knowing someone was here to handle the situation. All she managed was a nod. He patted her again. “Follow me.” Josh opened the passenger side and placed the crate on the truck seat. “Hopefully your little pal will be just fine. I’ll do my best so he’ll be home with you in no time.”

She wrinkled her nose. “That’s not my dog. I only stopped to help,” she explained, walking toward the truck.

Josh turned toward Jodi and gave her an appreciative smile. “So you’re the one? It’s nice to finally meet you. I heard about you in church on Sunday.”

“Me? On Sunday?” Her eyes widened.

“Yea you. We learned about the Good Samaritan. Let me shake your hand.”

Josh was totally disarming and made Jodi smile for the first time that day. When she took his hand, it felt strong and capable. She looked into his eyes where a collection of amber colors seemed to swirl together. “I’m Jodi Williams. I was trying to get the dog out of the road when he was hit. The driver didn’t stop to help.”

“I was on my way back from a farm call and in my daydreaming missed my turn to the clinic. Guess it was a good thing.” Josh explained as he climbed into his truck. “Don’t worry I’ll take it from here. Thanks again, Miss Good Samaritan.”

“Wait. Let me come with you.” Jodi looked at her car and again at Josh.

“Sure, just follow me. Back your car around and pull in behind me. I’ll wait for you.”

“Okay.” Jodi nodded to him as she opened her car door. Just as she scooted onto the driver’s seat a blast of wind slammed the door on her. Freezing to the bone, she cranked up the heater full blast. Then she turned on her wipers to move the snow off her windshield. Jodi found a safe place to turn around, and in no time, she was following Josh’s truck. A few turns later, they arrived at the veterinary clinic. The large sign read Thomas Veterinary Clinic and Animal Rescue. It seemed like an appropriate name since she and the dog had both been on the receiving end of that rescue. Jodi followed Josh into the building.

A pretty blonde-headed woman wearing brightly colored scrubs printed with playful dogs and cats, sat at the desk. “What do you have in there?” She looked at the small crate.

“An injured dog, hit on County O.” Josh turned to Jodi. “This is my secretary, Della Wheat. Della, this is Ms. Williams.”

“Jodi,” she corrected, hardly noticing Della. Her eyes remained fixed on the dog.

“Just fill out a card for me.” Della placed it on the counter along with a pen.

“She was trying to rescue the stray when it was hit,” Josh explained. “We don’t need the information.”

“I’d still like to fill out the card.” Jodi picked up the pen. Not knowing where she’d be staying yet, she only wrote her name and cell phone number. She put the pen back down and asked Josh, “Would it be all
right for me to go into the examination room with you?”

Josh shrugged. “Sure enough. Keep following me.”

They entered a brightly lit and predictably spotless small room. An aroma from the cleaning disinfectant was evident. They faced each other on opposite sides of the stainless steel examination table. Josh placed the crate on the table and slowly pulled out the dog on Jodi’s bloody coat.

“Hi, there, little guy. Will you let me see how you are doing?” Josh parted the folds of the coat and then lifted the dog out. It whimpered but didn’t try to snap.

Jodi removed her coat from the table. Josh kept looking up at her and down at the dog again. “You seem pretty shook up. Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”

“That’s good to know. I thought you might need a doctor yourself, for a minute there.” Josh chuckled.

She took her first long look at him. Great smile that was burned into her memory from their first encounter on the road, but now she saw he was also quite handsome. What attracted her was his obvious tender spirit reflected in his soft eyes. She didn’t even know him but he suddenly made an imprint on her heart. The way he looked at her made Jodi wonder if he felt it, too.

The door to the examination room popped open. “Do you need my help, Doctor?” Della stood in the doorway.

“Sure, come on in.”

Della entered and began her work while lightly humming. She seemed like the kind of gal who was always humming even when she did things that should be done in silence, like calming animal nerves or cleaning up messes. At least that was how Jodi imagined her to be.

Jodi watched as Josh gently turned the dog on its side and stroked its head, talking low and soft, trying to bring comfort to it. Della quickly stepped in to hold the dog, making Jodi move back out of their way. The room was cramped with all them in it, so she moved to the corner to watch.

“The dog has some pretty bad abrasions, but I don’t see anything that would require sutures. It looks like he’s a little neutered male, so someone once cared for him.” Josh tilted back the dog’s head and parted his jaws to have a good look inside. “And he’s no older than two years.”

The animal held his left hind leg tight up against his body. When Josh gently tried to straighten it, the dog yelped in pain and then licked Josh’s hand. Josh responded immediately by stroking its head. “Ah, I guess the leg is probably broken. We won’t know how badly until I get an x-ray of it.” Josh felt along the side of the animal and examined each leg. “In fact, I want to get several x-rays on him to see what else we’re dealing with here.”

“I’ll get everything ready,” Della hummed. Jodi glanced discreetly at the wall clock. She was late for her first day at her new job. “I have to leave, but my cell number is at the front desk. Will you call me later? I’d like to know how he does.”

“Of course I will.” Josh smiled again. It was enough to make her want to stay right here with the dog and with Josh, but then Della opened the door for her and took the dog to the back.

Jodi walked from the room as she took a good look at her coat. It was stained with blood and her clothes had muck on them.

“There’s a dry cleaner about five miles from here.”

“No good. I’m starting my job at The Turtle Creek Newspaper today, and I can’t go in like this. I’m not sure what to do since I’m already pretty late.” Jodi fretted as she folded her coat over one arm.

Josh took a jacket from one of the wall hooks.

“I know it doesn’t look like much, but at least it’s clean. Here.” He held out the dark green jacket. Jodi managed with much self-restraint not to roll her eyes. The truth was she didn’t want to wear it, but under the circumstances, in near-zero-degree temperature, she didn’t have much choice. Besides it was clean and Josh was sweet to offer it. When she slipped into it, the coat nearly swallowed up her small frame. She pulled the right side over the left and laughed when it nearly went all the way around her back. The way Josh looked at her made her blush.

“It’ll keep you warm,” he said.

Della walked back into the room. She frowned. The humming came to a stop. “Why is she wearing that?”

Jodi noticed the young woman’s displeasure. It made her feel silly. “She’s right, I can’t take this.”

“Wear it. It’ll do in a blizzard.”

Jodi looked out the window at the snow coming heavier now. The wind seemed stronger. “The weather is getting worse. If I take this, what’ll you wear?”

“There’s another jacket in my truck.”

“Please be sure to call and let me know how that sweet little guy is doing, okay?”

“Will do,” Josh promised. “He sure is a little cherub.”

Jodi reluctantly put on the jacket, hesitating before heading out to her car.


Twenty-year-old Della Wheat held up her hand and sweetly waved goodbye to Jodi. Then she turned to Josh. “She seems nice.”

“Yep, that she is.” He walked to the windows and watched as she got into her car and drove off. He was quiet a minute and then turned to Della.

“While I get those x-rays taken, I need you to start on the invoices. They’re on your desk. I’d like them in the mail by the end of the work day.” Josh started toward the back.

“Sure thing, as soon as I organize the waiting room. You know how I am about messiness,” Della answered as she began her daily routine with military preciseness. She fanned out the magazines into attractive sections, then swept the floor and finished off her housekeeping with a bit of dusting.

Once the fish were fed, she straightened her desk. It was then she noticed something on the counter of her well-ordered room. Calmly, Della picked up the white card and read Jodi Williams’ contact information. Cute, she was the kind who marked a line through each of her sevens and wrote her name in fancy, curly script. Della smiled and hummed happily as she walked over to the shredder and buzzed the piece of paper right through it. Jodi Williams disappeared.

“All gone.” Della wiped her hands together.

Now that this new woman was out of Josh’s life, Della was ready to get to work. She went around her desk and sat down. From the top drawer, she took out the container of paper clips, the small bag of rubber bands, the handful of pens and removed a folder. Underneath all of that was a picture of Josh and her at last year’s Christmas party at the church. She caressed his face with her finger. Then she picked up a black marker with a thin point and used it to carefully write across the bottom, You’re the only woman for me. All my love, Josh. It made Della smile. Then she shut the folder and returned it to the desk, placing the office supplies back on top. Within the hour, a CLOSED sign was placed in the door of the clinic. Della assisted Josh in surgery.

She watched every move he made. Della had a hard time keeping her mind on what they were doing. She kept looking over at Josh, hoping he’d see her and give her one of those great big smiles of his. He didn’t smile, didn’t even give her a look. All his concern went to the animal he was working on. He was devoted. He would smile at her later. That was her affirmation.

“Isn’t he a sweet little thing?” Della commented on the dog, needing attention from Josh.

“He sure was lucky to come out of it with just one fracture and a few abrasions. I think the good Lord was smiling down on you today,” he told the sedated mutt. “Della, while I pin the leg, steady it for me by holding the bones together just so.” Josh demonstrated.

Della followed his instructions.

“Once surgery is over, I’ll attach the rigid bar on the cast. Within a day or two, he should be using that leg just fine,” Josh murmured.

“You inspire me.” Della’s hand brushed his as she took over positioning the leg. It made her heart race.

“Just doing my job.” Perspiration gathered along Josh’s brow. In a few minutes, he had accomplished stabilizing the leg. “Good. You did well. You both did.” He looked at Della and gave her a smile.

There it was! Her affirmation! It came true, washing over her heart; she nearly fainted from happiness, but remained vertical and stared down at the dog’s leg that Josh was closing.

“That should do it.” Josh laid his instruments to the side and looked at the dog one more time. “I’ll give Jodi a call. She’ll want to know how the dog is doing.”

“I’ll do that for you,” Della insisted.

“No, I’ll do it myself as soon as the dog is fully awake and eats something.” Josh carried the animal to a prepared kennel and laid him on a heating pad. Della’s heart palpitated with fear and self-doubt. Deep breaths, she told herself. It was time to listen to her affirmation tapes. Della returned to the waiting room, unlocked the door and put the Open sign back in the window. At her desk, she slid her earphones on and popped the next CD in her player. She pressed play. She moved her lips along with the words on the tape, “I am focused on finding love. I have found love. That is all that matters. I am having fun.”

Her headphones were suddenly lifted off her head as her hair caught in the earpiece. “Ouch!” She turned around. It was her love. “Josh, what are you doing?”

“Are you listening to those silly tapes again? There are messages that need to be answered. Don’t you see the blinking light?”

“Sorry.” Della’s face blushed.

“Also get Jodi’s number for me, please.”

“Uhm….” Della watched her love leave the room.

If there was ever a time she needed to listen to her tapes, it was now. However, she would do as Josh asked and put them away. She’d write out her affirmation instead. With a pen in hand, she began; I believe in myself. I believe in the power of love. I believe Josh loves me. I believe Josh and I are destined to be together. I believe Josh will ask me to marry him. I believe in myself. I believe in the power of love. I believe Josh loves me. I believe Josh and I are destined to be together. I will make it happen. I believe in the power of me.