Monday, December 7, 2009

We have a winner!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered! I was amazed at the participation! I just hope that you all come back soon! :)

So without further adieu, our winner is ALEXANDRA! Alexandra, I've emailed you, and look forward to hearing from you via email soon!

Thanks again, everyone, and I pray that each of you have a blessed holiday season!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Review and Giveaway: Energizer Keeps Going and Going....

Just like the days on the calendar, they keep going and going and going....and soon, our kids will be opening up presents that require batteries that the kids want to keep going and going and going....or we will be taking pictures and videos, and won't want to have to put extra money into batteries to keep them going and going and going...

You get the picture here, right??

Energizer has given me the opportunity to review a pack of these fantastic rechargeable batteries for myself! Not only that, they have offered me a CHARGER to keep them going and going! In thanks for this, they also sent me a pack of batteries and charger to share with YOU, my readers, to try! I think this is an awesome time of year to try these out, don't you??

Energizer has created several chargers with different features that are particularly useful in specific situations. The 15 minute Charger gets the job done in just 15 minutes! You can probably distract your child from the non-working toy for that short amount of time, or even recharge while he/she is sleeping! How cool is that?! Or if you are traveling and the favored battery powered toy stops en route, the charger can use the energy from your vehicle's power outlet! Now THAT is a cool feature, folks! The company also offers a Family Friendly Charger with added safety features, as well as the model shared here, the Compact Charger. This charger is small, so it can be used without taking up lots of space, has an easy to read status indicator, and even indicates if dead or disposable batteries are inserted. The MSRP for this charger is only $14.99! If you'd like to know more about the batteries and chargers that Energizer offers, please visit this site.

When you and I both put these to use, guess what we are? We are Rechargin' Moms!

Woo hoo! I sure wish someone would recharge ME this time of year, but I'll gratefully take the batteries and charger for a start, what about you?!

So how do you win? Simple! Leave a comment telling what item(s) you would power and charge with these if you were to win! After you have completed this step, you're welcome to get additional entries by doing one or more of the following:

Follow this blog
Follow my other blog
Follow me on Twitter

That's it! A winner will be chosen on Sunday, December 5th after 1 pm. Please be sure to leave an email address where you can be contacted, because if I can't contact you, you can't be a winner!

Thanks again to Energizer for providing me the products to review and give away. No monetary compensation was given for this review, and all opinions stated are my own.

Friday, November 20, 2009

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Lessons From a Broken Chopstick

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:

Lessons from a Broken Chopstick

Hannibal Books (September 30, 2009)

***Special thanks to Jennifer Nelson of Hannibal Books for sending me a review copy.***


Mary Anne Phemister is a nurse, author, mother, grandmother and wife of noted concert pianist Bill Phemister. The Phemisters live in Wheaton, IL. She has also co-authored Mere Christians: Inspiring Stories of Encounters with C.S. Lewis.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Hannibal Books (September 30, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934749621
ISBN-13: 978-1934749623


The Chinese Chest

A large, beautifully carved Chinese chest rests on curved wooden legs in my kitchen. Long-legged cranes decorate the top and sides in various poses. One bird in the background looking wide-eyed and perplexed, I’ve come to call “the bewildered one.” She reminds me of my mother, full of questions she dare not ask.

A furniture maker in Hong Kong sold this beautiful chest to my parents during their early, happier years of married life. Being practical and resourceful, they knew that this fragrant, camphor-lined vault could store and preserve the many curios and keepsakes that they would be collecting over the years to ship back home, someday. A skilled Chinese woodcarver had chiseled these revered birds into the outer teak frame, knowing full well its commercial appeal. Throughout Asia, red-crested cranes are symbols of long life and good luck.

My parents, however, believed in divine providence rather than in lady luck. To them, the force that operates for good or ill in a person’s life is not as capricious and precarious as luck. Good fortune is not the result of mere chance; it is part of God’s plan. Unfortunate circumstances, like the time my father almost died of food poisoning, are blamed on the enemy of our souls—Satan, the devil or the evil one. Hence, even when God allows bad things to happen to good people, it is not without some purpose. God is teaching us something or testing our faith. Our job on earth is to trust God, who has clearly instructed us not to lay up treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt. Nevertheless, the few curios they brought home in this chest, fortified with camphor against pesky moths, could not be considered real treasures, merely mementos to display at missionary meetings.

My parents firmly believed that one should not—must not—expect to reap the rewards of living a virtuous life here on earth. However, in the life to come, all would turn out right. Then, all life’s troubling questions would be answered to our satisfaction. “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose” was a bible verse I had memorized at a very early age. Thus, I have always known that life has meaning and purpose. I have never doubted God’s goodness, although I have often questioned His methods.

This core belief, that all will turn out well in the end, that good will triumph over evil, that God rewards the faithful, was the force that enabled my mother to endure the countless challenges in her life. Her unshakable faith held her fast after the death of her infant son, Johnny, the puzzling alienation of her brother, Andy, and throughout her unhappy marriage to my father, notwithstanding all her attempts at being the good wife.

My parents’ acquaintance began at the suggestion of my father’s sister, Agnes. She had met Violet in Buffalo, New York and knew of her intent to go to Tibet as a missionary. Agnes suggested to her brother, Al, who was living in Shanghai at the time, that Violet would make him a good helpmeet. My father, who was on the lookout for a wife, then began a correspondence with this devout woman with a winsome smile, recently graduated from the Nyack Missionary College. Al eventually succeeded through his letters in persuading Violet to join him in China. Thus, Violet Anna Agnes Gibson and Alexander George Kowles were married on the very day the steamer docked in Shanghai harbor, September 6, 1938. She was just six days shy of turning thirty. Al, two years younger and two inches shorter, regretted these facts most of his life.

Why my parents went to China was never a mystery to me. In church service after church service they told of how God had laid on their hearts the burden for the lost. They were dedicated to answering the Master’s call for reapers to work in the harvest field for lost souls, as they would express it. They were merely obeying the great commission to go into all the world to bring the message of God’s love and salvation to people in heathen darkness. These words and phrases I heard often. I have never doubted their sincerity and resolve. They were more committed to their duty to obey Jesus’ imperative to preach the Gospel than to any other obligations, even to each other. Their marriage, based on their sincere desire to serve God, seemed to them at the beginning, to be God’s will. But before long, my mother began to recognize the smoldering notion that she had made a grave mistake. Where was God in this? How was God going to work this marriage out to his good?

“But you’re here,” my mother would say, dodging my question whenever I asked her why she stayed with my father for all those painful years. So, it was my existence and that of her other three children that enabled her to endure and be faithful. To her, the ever self-sacrificing handmaiden of the Lord and Al, divorce was unthinkable. God must have some purpose in it for her, she often reasoned throughout her prolonged heartache. It was her duty to persevere, to keep up family appearances for the sake of us children and “the ministry.”

I’m sure now that it was her strong sense of duty, her belief that marriages are made in heaven, her determination to endure to the end, bound and kept her locked in that disappointing marriage. Like the flight plans imprinted in those cranes’ brains, the mechanisms that steered the course of my mother’s life were those strongly implanted religious beliefs. I have inherited some of my mother’s sense of adventure, her perseverance, as well as strong religious beliefs, but for me, marriages cannot possibly be made in heaven. Where does it say that in the Bible? People make those choices, some good, some unhealthy. Somewhere along the line I have learned, contrary to family maxims, that if you make your bed, you don’t necessarily have to lie in it. You can get up and move, especially when one encounters, emotional, physical, sexual or even spiritual abuse.

Never once did I hear my mother question God’s sovereignty. To her, that would imply that the God whom she trusted with all her heart had led her down the wrong path. In her theology, and reinforced by my father with quotes from the Bible, that it was God’s will that she submit to her husband. She was committed (and coerced) to love, honor, and obey him until death intervened. “I accepted the future in simple faith that the Lord was leading me all the way,” she said. Simple faith did not permit her to question. A professional Christian counselor was out of the question, even if there were any around to be consulted a half century ago. Seeing a counselor pre-supposed that intense prayer and fasting and Bible reading were inadequate remedies to life’s problems. She told very few about her anguish, and never to her children while we were growing up.

During the time my mother kept the Chinese chest in her small apartment, it lay shrouded under a heavy, black brocade cloth. Stacked on top of the chest sat her phonograph player, her photo memory books, and piles of assorted record albums. Out of sight, the noble cranes lay hidden for decades until my mother moved into an assisted living residence. I remember her broad smile when I told her that I would take good care of her beautiful camphor chest, this lovely thing she bequeathed to me. She had begun to distribute her “things,” as she called them, to her four children. My mother lived to be eighty-nine. Clues to her life had been locked away in that Chinese chest for most of those years. In time, it was my joy to unearth some of the mementos and letters she had penned to her mother when she first sailed to Shanghai on the Empress of Japan to marry “by faith” a man she barely knew.

As I look at those cranes now, embedded in that chest that has come down to me, the bewildered one in particular seems to encapsulate much of my mother’s fascinating, woeful life. She, like the cranes, had mated for life, despite the unhappiness she endured. I suppose that if we children had all turned out to be preachers or missionaries to a foreign country, she would have felt some recompense, but none of us did. Throughout her lonely migrations to strange and foreign lands she kept searching for a resolution to the sadness she was feeling but could not verbalize. God did not provide the reconciliation to her husband and brother that she had so desperately prayed for. To bolster herself, she often took comfort in the words of the old hymn: “It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus; life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ.” I am sure that now she has found the answers in heaven and has found peace--the peace that passes understanding. What has she learned over there? What have I learned from her life experiences? How does one resolve the problem of pain in a Christian worldview? C. S. Lewis has helped me understand what my mother knew and quietly bore: many questions in this life are left unanswered. Life in Christ is a faith journey indeed. The Bible reminds us that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us.” (Rom. 8:18 NIV) Trust and Obey were the three little words that guided the choices my mother made throughout the bewildered maze of her life.

My review:

I REALLY enjoyed this book! I'm sure part of it was because I am a preacher's kid, so I could relate to some of what the author was saying in that sense. I found it extremely interesting to hear how children of missionaries lived! This was an easy, quick read, but that doesn't mean it wasn't thought provoking--cause it was!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Embrace the Struggle

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 authors are:

and the book:

Embrace the Struggle

Howard Books (October 27, 2009)

***Special thanks to Jennifer Willingham of HOWARD BOOKS (SIMON & SCHUSTER) for sending me a review copy.***


Zig Ziglar is the president of Zig Ziglar Corporation and has motivated the sales forces of multinational corporations and thousands of individuals. One of the leading stars of the “positive thinking” movement, he is the author of bestsellers See You at the Top, Secrets of Closing the Sale, Success and Self-Image, 5 Steps to Successful Selling, How to Be a Winner, and How to Get What You Want.

Visit the author's website.

Julie Ziglar Norman is the overly proud mother and grandmother of one son, three daughters, and twelve grandchildren. She lives in Alvord, Texas, with her husband of twenty-six years, Jim Norman; three horses, three rescued dogs and three rescued cats, and she is currently writing her first solo book to be published by Brown Books in 2010.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $23.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (October 27, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 143914219X
ISBN-13: 978-1439142196



Zig Ziglar, my father, is in a struggle right now. A struggle so profound and so real that by sharing it with you I believe you will be filled with hope and encouragement. The gift that God has given Dad is the gift of encouragement and the ability to transfer hope to others so that they can rise above whatever circumstance they are in. As Dad has always said, “Getting knocked down in life is a given. Getting up, starting from where you are and moving forward, is a choice.”

On March 7, 2007, our family experienced what Dr. James Dobson calls “a suddenly.” I was out of town when I got the call. I went numb as I listened to my sister Cindy’s voice, “Dad fell down the stairs. He has a serious head injury.” Suddenly, our family joined millions of other families facing similar circumstances and life was very different. Dad, at eighty years of age, lost the vitality he was renowned for; he no longer moved with the energy and agility of a sixty-five-year-old man. Almost overnight he aged fifteen plus years, and thus began his struggle to live with and overcome the effects of a brain injury.

The next weeks were very anxious as we figured out the impact of the accident and the possibilities for recovery. The calendar became filled with doctors and more doctors. Life was changing fast. But the amazing thing was that Dad’s attitude never changed. I knew that he hurt all over from falling down a sixteen step staircase onto a marble floor. I could see that his balance was impaired and that his short-term memory was “really short,” as he likes to say, but still he was as optimistic and, if possible, even more loving than before the fall. As usual, he was more concerned for us than he was for himself.

“Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do.” I have heard Dad say that hundreds of times. “It isn’t what happens to you, but how you respond to what happens to you that makes the difference.” “Go as far as you can see, then you can see farther.” These are words my father has taught and words he lives by daily. And that is why I’m so excited about this book. Once again my father is using his circumstances, as unfortunate as they may be, to encourage others in their own struggles. As my sister Julie says, he is willing to be transparent, and he continues to write and speak because he wants to show his audiences that life on life’s terms is well worth living. Life may never be the same again but that doesn’t mean it can’t be just as wonderful and fulfilling in an entirely new and different way.

My wish for you as you journey through this book is that you will count your blessings until your gratitude bucket is full, and if you or someone you love is in a struggle, take courage and press on, because, as the Ziglar family has learned, it is in the depths of the struggle that God reveals His eternal blessings.

Embrace the Struggle,

Tom Ziglar

Proud Son of Zig Ziglar


I’m convinced that in the last year the overwhelming majority of people have been struggling with some kind of concern—personal, family, business, health, relationships—you name it. I know I certainly have! It seems these are things that just happen over the course of time. The question is how do you handle struggle?

Through the years I’ve spoken about and written often on how to overcome negative situations, but as a motivational/inspirational speaker and author, I have to admit that I personally have spent the majority of my time focused on how to accomplish the next positive achievement. I believe I have given an honest and realistic picture of how to address struggles in the past but as you know, what we know is a result of what we’ve learned. The things we learn firsthand have a much greater impact on us and better position us to help others deal with similar circumstances. In fact, the Bible tells us this is so; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of our mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3–4 NKJV).

Until now, my greatest life struggle has been dealing with the death of my forty-six-year-old daughter, Suzan. I wrote extensively in Confessions of a Grieving Christian about how I grappled with my grief and how God comforted me. Not surprisingly, that book has been the one of mine that has generated the most letters from readers. Why? Because that topic directly addresses an emotional struggle all of us eventually face in our lives. Generally, you don’t read a book about grief unless you are grieving. And you typically won’t gravitate toward a book on overcoming struggles unless you, or someone you love, are in the midst of a struggle. If you find this to be your case, you my friend, are reading the right book!

I know without a doubt that the personal struggle I’ve been going through since my fall has given me insight that I could not have had otherwise. I’ve been overwhelmed time and time again as I have discovered that the principles I’ve taught through the years apply to my present circumstances more completely than they ever have at any other time in my life. And, amazingly, the simplest concepts of all have proven to be the most applicable life buoys for me.

The pages that follow this introduction are full of inspiring stories of individuals who have faced struggles and not only survived, but live a life far more fulfilling than they ever experienced before their struggle began. Many of the stories come from individuals who, upon hearing about my brain injury, sought to encourage and comfort me with the comfort that God had extended to them during their struggle.

I will share with you the principles and scriptures that have served as lifelines for me and explain how I have applied them to my struggle. You will hear how my struggle has impacted and influenced the lives of my wife, the Redhead (When I’m talking about her, I call her the Redhead. When I’m talking to her, I call her Sugar Baby. Her name is Jean.), my son Tom, my daughters, Cindy and Julie, and my granddaughter Katherine. You’ll also learn how this has impacted my speaking career, my writing and the wonderful staff I’m blessed to have at our company, Ziglar, Inc.

My personal struggle is health related but this book deals with not only the struggle physical limitations create, but also financial, spiritual, family and relationship struggles. This book is about living life on life’s terms. It is about knowing what you can change and what you can’t change and learning how to live your life with an enthusiastic expectation for what is yet to come. Where there is a struggle there is life. For that we can be grateful!



I get lots of ideas when the lights go out at night and it gets very quiet. Sometimes they come when I first lie down to sleep, other times I wake up with an idea racing through my mind, but regardless of when an idea comes, I have made it a habit to get out of bed and write the idea down before it disappears into my dreams. You should do the same. (This book is not really about me and my accident . . . it’s about you having the benefit of my experience, good or bad!)

I’ve also made it a habit not to disturb the Redhead if I can possibly help it and that night was no exception. I quietly slid out of bed and hurried toward my office which is across the hall and to the right of the head of the staircase. As usual, I did not turn on a light. I had traveled that particular path thousands of times in the twenty-two years we’d lived in our home. However, in all of those years I had never accidentally put my left foot down where the second floor ended and the first step down our staircase began! Let’s just say that misstep more than disturbed the Redhead!

Most of what I am writing at this point is information my family filled me in on after the accident. Since I was unconscious for several minutes I have absolutely no recall of what happened after I fell but from what the Redhead tells me she grabbed the phone and dialed 911 as soon as she realized I was tumbling down the stairs. An ambulance was dispatched and help was at the house within a few minutes of my fall.


While the paramedics attended to me the Redhead called our children. By then it was about 10:30 p.m. so seeing our name come up on Caller ID at that hour struck fear into our children’s hearts. And this time, I’m sorry to say, their fear was not unfounded. My son Tom refers to that night as the night he got “the call.” I’m quite sure each of you has had “the call” at one time or another and can relate to what our children were experiencing. I’m grateful that all three of them, including Tom who was out of town, hurried to the hospital to help their “elderly parents”—that is what I call us when I’m about half-teasing and about half-relieved that our kids are hovering around us, willing and eager to help.

Over the next several hours it became apparent that my left side took the brunt of my fall. When I landed at the bottom of the stairs I hit my head on the marble floor and then slammed it against the front door. Please don’t ask for a reenactment—you get the picture! I had to spend a few nights at the hospital so the doctors could monitor the two areas where my brain had a bleed, and I needed some time to get used to the positional vertigo that I began to experience about twelve hours after I fell. Amazingly, I suffered no broken bones, but I can testify that I was one sore and dizzy guy!

What we didn’t know when I finally left the hospital was how seriously my short-term memory had been affected. Sometimes it is nice to be a little clueless. Everyone in the family has had ample time to adjust to the fact that my short-term memory is very, very, short. Now we are all learning how to live with that fact.

Life is change. On March 7, 2007, my life changed completely with one, simple, misplaced step. Some would say it changed for the worse, and by man’s standards they would be entirely right. Fortunately, and I can assure you this is not by chance, the one verse that I’ve written in the majority of books I’ve been asked to autograph, the verse that I believe encourages people most in the midst of their troubles, Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (KJV), is the verse that allows me to know that God will use this season of my life, difficult though it may be, for His glory and my ultimate benefit.

By man’s standards my fall down the stairs and the vertigo and the brain injury that resulted in my short-term memory loss would seem to dictate an end to my long and much loved career, but I’m here to tell you that even with its problems, life is more inspiring, more intriguing, and more fulfilling than ever. For me, when life does take an unexpected turn, it is somewhat like taking a hike on a new trail; I can’t wait to see what is around the next bend. If the going gets really rocky, I might start hoping smoother ground is just ahead, or that I’m close to the end of the trail where I can take a long desired break from the grueling journey. But my enthusiastic expectation for what is yet to come, for what God has planned for me and my life, never wavers. I trust Him.

I also trust my family. Many years ago I told my family that I was concerned that I might not be able to realize it myself if I started to lose my edge and my speeches were no longer as effective as they should be. I did not want to embarrass myself so I asked them to promise that they would tell me if they ever thought it was time for me to step down from the stage. As I got older and started experiencing some of what I’d call the usual memory loss that happens when we pass the ages of fifty, sixty, and then seventy, the children often checked on me to be sure I was still able to deliver. Thankfully, they were discreet and until after the accident I didn’t even know they had already begun checking me out periodically. They took their assignment seriously and I’m glad they did.

It is true that as I neared the age of eighty, I began to rely on notes to help me keep my place as I was speaking. But I figured that most folks rely on notes by the time they are eighty so I wasn’t at all concerned about how my audience would perceive my occasional pass by the podium to reference my outline. My daughter Julie reviewed the DVD of the Get Motivated Seminar engagement I did in San Bernardino, California on March 6, 2007, the day before my accident and she assures me that I was still completely stage worthy at that point. Unfortunately, my brain injury had such a profound effect on my short-term memory that the ability to reference an outline was beyond me. I could look at the outline but I couldn’t remember the last point that I had made. To add insult to injury, the vertigo I was experiencing made it virtually impossible for me to even walk around the stage safely.


Obviously, I had a real dilemma. I book engagements months and years in advance and there were several engagements pending when I fell. I know companies and individuals alike are negatively impacted if I can’t keep an engagement, so I have always done everything in my power to be where I’m expected. I’ve missed the funerals of my siblings and friends and I’ve spoken when I probably should not have due to illness, but I always felt like my responsibility to show up according to plan was paramount. I can still hear my mother saying, “If a man’s word is no good—he is no good.” I had given my word.

Situations like the one I’m in create circumstances that make a fellow really grateful to have good family relationships. I knew I could count on the help of my family and I got it in spades! The Redhead, Tom, Cindy and Julie enlisted the help of my doctors who were working with me after my accident, as well as the help of my friends and associates, to determine if I should find a way to continue speaking or stay home and concentrate on my writing.

My family was open to seeing how I would progress, but they were concerned about the very real possibility that my vertigo might cause another fall and that traveling would put me in more vulnerable positions than staying close to home would. When they discussed the idea that it might be time for me to retire from public speaking, it was quickly followed by a concern that God might not be done with using me on the stage and none of them wanted to be responsible for suggesting I stop if that was, in fact, the case. However, it was crystal clear that short of an outright miracle I would not be giving the kind of speeches my audiences had come to expect.

The doctors had said that I might recover more of my short-term memory with time as my brain healed but they couldn’t be sure of what the ultimate outcome was going to be. More than a year has passed since my fall and it seems that I have good days and other days. (You know there are no bad days. After all, some people didn’t wake up today and compared to them I’m having a better than good day!) Since I am over eighty years of age we are taking the conservative approach to my medical options. We’re taking our time and applying the good old Ben Franklin approach I’ve taught all these years; divide a page from top to bottom, put positive benefits of procedures/therapies in one column and possible negative outcomes in the other, and we’ll let the obvious, as well as prayer, determine our decisions.

I’ll go into more detail later about some of the therapies, supplements, exercises and medical treatments friends and even clients have suggested and that we’ve tried, but for now I want you to know that we’ve never stopped looking at possible treatments for what ails me. We pray about the treatments and supplements we are told about and if we feel God is leading me to try them, I try them. My doctors remain supportive and encouraging about the possibilities the future holds.

My associates, particularly those who also speak on public platforms, were and still are concerned about me retaining my dignity and going out on top. The thought of me, in many cases, their mentor, performing differently and faltering here and there before an audience is almost unthinkable. I love them for wanting to help me be remembered as I was before the accident. And I love them for personally helping me move ahead, to do what God puts in front of me to the best of my ability.


Thankfully, the only speaking engagement that I had to miss immediately after my fall was for my friends and business associates Peter and Tamara Lowe at one of their big Get Motivated Seminars in Houston, Texas on March 13, 2007. After a lot of in-depth examination by no less than five doctors, it was determined that I had retained almost all of the information I have taught over my many years as a speaker and author, and that I was totally “present” when being spoken to. The only new memory problem I had was with the most immediate short-term. When questioned I could answer without any hesitation, but if you asked me what you had asked me when I finished answering the question I could not tell you. Yes, my memory about current events is that short! (You’re probably wondering how this book got written and I’ll tell you—we are both the beneficiaries of the good help I have. Between my executive assistant, Laurie Magers, my editor/daughter Julie Norman and others on my staff, we got it done!)

Since I could recall information when asked, Peter Lowe came up with the idea of changing my speaking format. For years I have been known for my energetic, highly physical speaking style. Some people have even accused me of being more than enthusiastic during presentations. I liked to somewhat live out the stories while I was telling them, and I thought standing stock still behind a podium might block or slow down the words that came flying out of my mouth at the rate of 250 per minute with gusts up to 450. You would naturally assume that it was my vertigo that put an end to all my physical onstage activity, but it really had more to do with the fact that we couldn’t find anyone who felt comfortable chasing me around the stage to ask the next question in our new interview format! Sorry, I couldn’t contain myself.

Sitting down for one-on-one interviews on stage came about through a combination of me being unsteady on my feet and my mind not keeping track of what I’d already said. Peter Lowe interviewed me for the first time in Boise, Idaho on March 27, 2007, just twenty days after my fall but after a few engagements it occurred to him that my associates, Bryan Flanagan and Krish Dhanam, both of whom have shared the Get Motivated Seminar platforms with me on many occasions, might be a better fit for the job. They have both taught my material and they’ve studied it in order to apply it to their lives. They can tell most of my stories almost word for word, and in the event I had trouble recalling any answer to their questions they could help out by prompting me toward the answer or outright supplying the answer if it still eluded me. It made perfect sense to ask them to interview me at the Get Motivated Seminars. Fortunately, they both agreed and with great faith we pressed forward to keep my commitments.


Both Krish and Bryan did an excellent job of interviewing me on stage. They carefully laid out their questions so that we could cover several different areas of interest such as the mental, physical, spiritual, financial and relational sides of life. Their goal and mine was to continue to give the audience valuable, applicable, life improving information in an entertaining way.

I cannot express fully the gratitude I have for these two men. Engagement after engagement, they tweaked their questions as they learned better how to deal with my short-term memory. They spent hours and hours working on how to make me look my very best. They learned how to highlight the good and minimize the imperfections that were bound to happen with the kind of brain injury I suffered.

We continued on this course with the public seminars but we had to address what we, as a company, would do about my corporate engagements and about my two day Born to Win seminar that I had hosted since the 1970s. My son Tom was the president of our company at that time (now he is the CEO) and I sorely wish that all the weight of this problem hadn’t fallen squarely on his shoulders, but he handled and continues to handle the business beautifully.

Tom decided that we’d notify the corporations I was scheduled to speak for about my accident and the change to an interview format and let them decide if they wanted to keep their engagement or cancel, and that we would not book anymore corporate events for the foreseeable future. He also decided we would promote the upcoming Born to Win seminar as the final one.


I know rock stars have farewell tours, sometimes they have one every four or five years, but I had never considered that I might actually “plan” to do any of the things I do for the last time. I’ve always planned to die while I’m still doing what I love doing. When folks say they’ve heard I’m retired, I say with mock surprise, “Retired! Friend, you weren’t listening! I said I was reFIRED! I’m not gonna ease up, shut up, let up or give up, until I’m taken up! Matter of fact, I’m just getting’ warmed up!”

Some people might think that’s reaching a little far for a man who has celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of his twenty-first birthday. (For those of you who are mathematically challenged that means I’m eighty-one years old.) But I am truly the kind of guy who goes after Moby Dick in a rowboat and takes the tartar sauce with him! Which will help you understand that it was with a bit of trepidation that I agreed to the “last” Born to Win seminar.

It wasn’t long before I understood why rock stars have so many farewell tours. They sell out—fast! I was overwhelmed at the immediate response to the announcement. Many who attended Born to Win did so several times through the years. Some brought their employees; others came with their whole family in tow. Larry Carpenter particularly stands out in my mind. He attended forty-five times over twenty-seven consecutive years. His beautiful wife Lisa and their three sons participated more times than I can remember. Larry also financially sponsored nearly 200 people down through the years because he wanted the people he cares about to experience what he experienced there. The last Born to Win was no exception. He brought his whole family and as we’d say down home, a passel of friends to boot! That event was like old home week for the Redhead and me. We got to see so many people whom we’d come to know and love. We were in “tall cotton” the whole time.

Because of my accident, my involvement had been scaled down a great deal but I was scheduled to have three different interview sessions with Krish Dhanam and a great deal of time mixing and mingling with the participants. Krish did the interview the first evening and later fell ill so another long time associate and friend Jill Tibbels agreed to do the Saturday morning interview, which went off exceptionally well. Jill always does an incredible job of anything we ask her to do. That’s just one of the reasons we’re so grateful her association with us spans more than twenty-five years.

Tom came up with the idea of making this final BTW more intimate and special by having a “family” session where the Redhead, Tom, Cindy and Julie joined me on the stage in a living room setting to tell stories about what it was like having me for a husband and father. I often tell people that if I’d known how much fun grandkids were going to be I would have been a whole lot nicer to their parents! I’d like to add that had I known my wife and children would be taking the stage to talk about me . . .

We all had a marvelous time but I suspect my jaw was dropped open most of the time. I had no idea that I had raised so many hams! All three of my children had the audience holding on to their sides. Honestly, I didn’t know that growing up and working with me had provided them with so much funny material! And then the Redhead chimed in and people were almost rolling on the floor. It was as if my family had been saving up for this one occasion. It was all in good, loving fun and the ones I love most in this world did get around to saying that they loved AND respected me, so all’s well that ends well.


Except, as is often the case, what appears to be an ending is anything but. That afternoon of August 25, 2007, was another beginning for me with my daughter and long-time editor, Julie Norman. I love seeing the hand of Providence in my life. Julie became my editor as a result of having won a place at the bi-annual Writer’s Workshop that Guideposts hosts to develop new talent for their magazine. John and Elizabeth Sherrill, long-time roving editors for Guideposts and well-known co-authors of Corrie Ten Boom’s, The Hiding Place, as well as Brother Andrew’s, The Cross and the Switchblade, noted that Julie was a natural at editing. When Julie told me they, and a few others who were leading the workshop, had commented on her editing ability, I immediately knew I needed her to help me with my books. Fifteen years and twenty-one books later we’re still writing away. This book is our first effort as co-authors. With my short term memory loss, the kind of help I needed was more in-depth than the usual editing Julie has done in the past.

And now we’re speaking together as well! Jay Hellwig, my driver and personal assistant and the husband of Jill Hellwig, our number one salesperson for more than thirteen years, noticed that the Born to Win attendees responded enthusiastically to what Julie had to say from the stage. He told Tom that he thought it would be a more natural fit to have Julie interview me at the Peter Lowe Get Motivated Seminars. He pointed out that because of our father/daughter relationship she could more comfortably interrupt me if I started to repeat myself and, after all, she had been editing everything I’d said in print for years, she knew all of my material. It was such an obvious fit I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it myself! Julie, it seems, had been being prepared all along to help me at this time in my life.

It made sense to Tom, too, and when he asked Julie if she would travel with me and her mother and interview me on stage, she agreed without hesitation.






Howard Books

West Monroe, Louisiana


To the Redhead,

My bride of sixty-one years, the only woman I’ve ever loved

and the most important person in my life.

Sure do love you, Sweetheart!

Our purpose at Howard Books is to:

Increase faith in the hearts of growing Christians
Inspire holiness in the lives of believers
Instill hope in the hearts of struggling people everywhere
Because He’s coming again!

[Howard Logo]Published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

Embrace the Struggle © 2009 Zig Ziglar

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information, address Howard Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

[Add agent line here, if applicable]

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data TK

ISBN-13: 978-1-4391-4219-6

ISBN-10: 1-4391-4219-X

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

HOWARD and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Manufactured in the United States of America

For information regarding special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact: Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-800-456-6798 or

Edited by Denny Boultinghouse

Cover design by TK

Interior design by TK

Photography/illustrations by TK

Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked AMP are from the Amplified Bible®, copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission ( Scripture quotations marked ESV are taken from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked KJV are taken from the Holy Bible, Authorized King James Version. Scripture quotations marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked TLB are taken from The Living Bible, copyright © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. Scripture quotations marked TNIV are taken from the Holy Bible, Today’s New International Version®. TNIV®. Copyright© 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Scriptures marked LITV are taken from the Literal Translation of the Holy Bible. Copyright © 1976 - 2000 by Jay P. Green, Sr. Used by permission of the copyright holder. Courtesy of Sovereign Grace Publishers and Christian Literature World.

My review:
I really enjoyed this book! I've long been a fan of Zig Ziglar, and didn't realize until I started reading what a horrific experience he had been through concerning his health. I got a lot out of this book as I am dealing with a big change of plans with this unexpected pregnancy...but I'm certainly embracing it and giving God all the glory!! I highly suggest this book to EVERYONE!

Monday, October 19, 2009

FIRST Wild Card Tour: The Last Word

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 Last Word (Sophie Trace Trilogy)

David C. Cook (2009)

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


Best-selling suspense novelist Kathy Herman has written fourteen novels, including CBA bestsellers The Real Enemy, Tested by Fire and All Things Hidden, since retiring from her family’s Christian bookstore business. Kathy and her husband, Paul, have three grown children and five grandchildren and live in Tyler, Texas.

Visit the author's website.

The Last Word, by Kathy Herman from David C. Cook on Vimeo.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 340
Vendor: David C. Cook (2009)
ISBN: 143476785X
ISBN-13: 9781434767851


Police Chief Brill Jessup pored over the department’s budget for the rest of the fiscal year and couldn’t see any way she could afford to hire another patrol officer without going to the city council. She sighed. The last time she asked those tightwads for additional funds she practically had to beg.

A strange noise interrupted her thoughts. She peered through the blinds on the glass wall into the bustling detective bureau and listened intently. There it was again.

A burly man appeared in the doorway. He bumped off either side, then staggered into her office. Facedown. Hands dripping with blood, clutching his abdomen.

“What in the world …?” She jumped to her feet, frozen in place.

Detective Sean O’Toole looked up and stretched out his hand toward her, his eyes screaming with pain. He collapsed in front of her desk and hit the floor.

“Officer down!” she shouted. “I need an ambulance—now!”

She hurried around the side of her desk, grabbed the clean hand towel next to the coffeepot, and got down on her knees. She laid the towel over the bloody wound and applied pressure.

“Sean, talk to me. What happened?”

The detective’s face was ashen. “He c-came from behind … put me in a choke hold … stuck a knife in my gut … said he was coming after you—to f-finish the job.”

“You never saw his face?”

“No. Hairy arms. White guy. Navy blue short sleeves. Smelled like c-cigarettes. Deep voice.”

“Where did this happen?”

“Hallway. Watercooler.”

Sean moaned, his face pallid and contorted with pain, his eyes slits of icy blue.

“Come on, Sean, stay with me.”

Detective Captain Trent Norris burst into her office. “I’ll take it from here, Chief.”

“How did he get from the watercooler to my office without someone in the DB seeing he needed help?”

“I guess we were all focused on other things. It’s been crazy.”

Trent got down on the floor and swapped places with her, his palms pressed over the wound. “Hang in there, buddy. The paramedics are just down the block. They’ll be here any second. You’re going to be fine. Stay with me. Talk to me.”

Brill sprang to her feet and hurried over to the officers who crowded outside her door. “O’Toole was just stabbed by some lowlife who snuck up behind him at the water cooler. We’re looking for a white man wearing a short-sleeve, navy blue shirt, possibly bloodstained.”

She locked gazes with Sean’s partner. “Detective Rousseaux, secure the scene and make sure it’s not compromised.

“Captain Dickson, lock down the building and search every corner of every room.

“Sergeant Chavez, set up a containment for two blocks around the building.

“Sergeant Huntman, clear the route to St. Luke’s and make sure we have officers in radio cars ready to escort the ambulance. Come on, people, move it!”

The officers scrambled in all directions, and she ran out to the restroom.

She tore off paper towels until she had a stack, folded them in half and held them under the faucet, then pressed out the excess water and rushed back to her office.

She got on her knees and gently pressed the wet towels onto Sean’s forehead, all too aware he was sweating profusely and still bleeding despite the pressure Trent was keeping on the wound. “We need something to elevate his legs.”

She went over to the bookshelf and grabbed several thick books and put them under Sean’s feet, hoping he wouldn’t die of shock before the paramedics arrived.

Lord, don’t take him now. He’s young. He’s got a wife and three kids.

“Come on, buddy, talk to me.” Trent patted Sean’s cheeks. “What else do you remember about this creep?”

“Tell Jessica I love her. The kids, too. Promise me.”

“You’re not going to die,” Trent said. “The bleeding’s slowing down. Talk to me, Sean. We want whoever did this to you.”

“He’s coming after the chief. Going to kill her.”

“Who’s going to kill her?” Trent’s dark eyes shot Brill a glance. “Give us something else. You’re too sharp of a detective to have missed anything.”

“Had a mark. Top of right hand.”

“What kind of mark?”

“A tattoo. Or b-birthmark. Size of a quarter.”

Brill heard voices and heavy footsteps in the DB, and seconds later two paramedics glided through the door and asked her to stand aside with Trent.

She observed in disbelief as the pair worked to save her detective’s life, heartsick that she might have to tell his wife and children he’d been murdered on her watch—and just feet away from armed police officers.

She started to brush the hair out of her eyes and realized her hands were bloody. She shuddered with the realization that whoever thrust a knife into Sean O’Toole had threatened to finish the job when he got to her.


Five hours later Brill sat at the conference table in her office with Detective Captain Trent Norris, Detective Beau Jack Rousseaux, Patrol Captain Pate Dickson, and Sheriff Sam Parker trying to assess where they were in the case.

“It’s a miracle Sean made it through surgery.” Brill looked from man to man. “We could be sitting here planning his funeral.”

“He’s too stubborn to die,” Beau Jack said.

“Stubborn’s no match for a knife blade, Detective. I want this animal locked up.”

“Don’t forget he threatened to come after you,” Trent said.

“How’d he get in here, anyway?”

Pate’s face turned pink. “One of my sergeants, Tiller, reported that a white man dressed in navy blue coveralls with the Miller’s Air Conditioning logo on the pocket was standing outside the door when he arrived this morning. The guy said he was here to fix the AC. He had a toolbox and a big smile. Dark hair and mustache. Big guy. Looked fifty to fifty-five.”

“So the sergeant just keyed in the combination and let him in without checking with maintenance?” Beau Jack said. “Real smart move.”

Pate stroked his chin. “Come on, Miller’s service people are in here all the time. The sergeant let down his guard. We’ve all done it.”

“Yeah, well, my partner nearly died because Sergeant Tiller let down his guard.”

“What’s done is done,” Brill said. “It’s not like we have a precedent for this kind of thing in the Sophie Trace PD.”

Beau Jack stuck a Tootsie Pop in his mouth. “I guess we do now.”

“We definitely need to tighten security,” Trent said. “Since we have no idea who this guy is, everyone we bring into the DB to be interviewed will be suspect.”

“I can’t spend the rest of my life in fear of this nutcase coming after me,” Brill said. “I have a job to do. Trent, you take charge of tightening security. All of us need to heighten our awareness of our surroundings. Anything or anyone that doesn’t feel right, check it out.”

Sam’s white eyebrows came together. “I can’t believe y’all were that trusting. My deputies would never let unauthorized individuals into a secured area. They’re trained to follow protocol.”

“So are my officers.” Brill forced herself not to sound defensive.

“But those of you in the county sheriff’s department deal with a broader range of criminals. Until now, the Sophie Trace PD had no reason to fear an officer being attacked in a secured area.”

“I’ll cover it in each briefing,” Trent said. “From this day forward, no one gets in the secured area until he has clearance. I don’t care how inconvenient it is to check him out.”

Brill looked over at Pate. “Tell me about your search of the building.”

“No evidence was found in the building, ma’am. My officers searched every nook and cranny and checked the sinks for hair and blood. Doesn’t appear the attacker stopped to clean up.”

“How’d Chavez do with the containment?” she said.

“He contained a two-block area around city hall, checked license plates, and talked with pedestrians. That yielded one female witness who passed the suspect on the sidewalk around 10:45—just after O’Toole was stabbed. The suspect was headed down First Street at a pretty good clip. Our witness says he was overweight, average height, dressed in navy blue coveralls and a black windbreaker and carrying a gray toolbox. She said he was wearing sunglasses and did not have a mustache. She’s working with Tiller and our sketch artist. We ought to have something soon.”

“Did she see which way he went?” Trent said.

Pate shook his head. “Once he passed her, she didn’t give him a second thought until Chavez questioned her.”

“Well,” Brill said, “I’m eager to see the sketch. If this man has threatened to come after me, I’d sure like to see if I recognize him.”


A short time later, Brill sat at her desk and studied the artist’s sketch of the man who stabbed Sean O’Toole. Sergeant Tiller was the only one who saw the suspect’s eyes, and the female witness was the

only one who saw his mouth without the mustache. He looked vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t put a name to the face or even explain what it was about him that looked familiar.

Her cell phone vibrated, and she read the display screen.

“There you are,” she said. “I guess you got my message?”

“Honey, I’m so sorry,” Kurt Jessup said. “I’ve been following the news. I’m glad Sean pulled through. Must’ve been horrible for you.”

“I thought we were going to lose him.”

She told Kurt everything that had happened from the time Sean O’Toole staggered into her office until the paramedics took him to St. Luke’s in an ambulance—except that the assailant told O’Toole he was coming after her to “finish the job.” Why get into that over the phone?

“Sounds intense. You must be emotionally drained.”

“I don’t think it’s caught up with me yet. It was surreal washing Sean’s blood off my hands, and I had to throw away my uniform shirt. Beau Jack lent me the extra shirt he had in his locker so Emily wouldn’t have to see the mess. Does she know about the stabbing?”

“Yes, but I made sure she’s not planted in front of the TV, listening to the gory details. It’ll just trigger thoughts of the hostage ordeal, and we both know she’s not over it.”

Are any of us? Brill glanced up at the clock. “I’ll be home in forty-five minutes. Is Vanessa there yet? I can hardly wait to see her.”

“She’ll be here between seven and eight. Said not to plan on her for dinner.”

“By the time I get home, it’ll be too late to cook anything,” Brill said. “And you know what Friday night is like. If we go out, we’ll have to wait forever, and I don’t want Vanessa to come home to an empty house.”

“I’ve got it covered, honey. I bought a baked chicken and a quart of potato salad at the grocery store. We’ve got stuff here for a green salad. That should work.”

“What would I do without you?”

Kurt laughed. “I have no idea.”

“I’ll see you soon. I love you.”

“Love you, too.”

Brill hung up the phone and looked out the window. Through the leafy trees and beyond the ridges of hazy green foothills, the blue gray silhouette of the Great Smoky Mountains dominated the early evening sky. She sat for a moment and just enjoyed the beauty and the calm.

Lord, thank You for letting Sean pull through.

Her office phone rang, and she picked it up. “Yes, LaTeesha.”

“Captain Donovan from the Memphis PD is on line one for you.”

“Thanks.” She pushed the blinking button. “Hello, John.”

“Hey. It’s great to hear your voice. Saw you on the news last fall. I figured you’d make a name for yourself, but I didn’t think you’d go to such extreme measures.”

She smiled. “Things got pretty crazy, all right. So are you enjoying my old office?”

“Not today. I’ve got bad news … Zack Rogers was stabbed night before last. Happened in his driveway. Some worthless piece of garbage came up behind him and stuck a knife in his gut, and said to tell District Attorney Cromwell he was coming after him. I didn’t call you because the doc said Zack was going to be all right. But his heart gave out …”—John’s voice cracked—“an hour ago. No one saw it coming. His kids are still in high school, and with their mother dead … well, it’s a tragic loss. I knew you’d want to know since you and Zack were partners for so long.”

Brill felt a wave of nausea sweep over her, a decade of memories flashing through her mind in an instant.

“The thing is,” John said, “we knew Zack was being targeted because one of my detectives was stabbed last week, and the perp told him he was coming after Zack. We offered Zack protection, but you know how independent he was—bound and determined he could take care of himself.”

Brill’s heart pounded so hard she was sure he could hear it. “John, one of my detectives was stabbed today just outside the detective bureau. The attacker told him he was coming after me, to finish the job. This can’t be a coincidence.”

There was a long moment of dead air, and she figured John was processing the implications.

“You and Zack helped put away lots of perps, Brill. And Jason Cromwell was district attorney during the time you two were partners. Did anybody ever threaten you?”

“Are you kidding? All the time. We blew it off.”

“Well, looks like one of them was dead serious. Anybody in particular stand out?”

“Sure, Bart and Sampson Rhodes. But they’re lifers and not eligible for parole. Zack and I busted them what, nine or ten years ago? If they had been serious about taking us out, they could’ve snapped their fingers and gotten it done in nine or ten minutes.”

“Maybe they’re patient,”

“Or maybe this is someone else,” Brill said. “Someone who was forced to wait a long time for the chance to get even—someone who served out his sentence. Someone who wouldn’t think of hiring a hit man, but rather delights in the systematic elimination of the people who put him away. Someone who enhances his enjoyment by first stabbing a person who is close to the intended victim and making sure that person lives long enough to tell the intended victim that he or she is next.”

“You’ve worked with the FBI profilers so long you actually sound like one.”

“Unfortunately, John, I think I’m right.”

©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. The Last Word by Kathy Herman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book! It had a good story line that was easy to get into, but was suspenseful at the same time! I'd recommend it!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

FIRST Wild Card Tour: The Christmas Bowl

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 Great Christmas Bowl

Tyndale House Publishers (August 17, 2009)


Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (August 17, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414326785
ISBN-13: 978-1414326788


I’ve always been a football fan, the kind of woman who could easily find herself parked on the sofa any given Sunday afternoon, rooting for my favorite team. I’ve never been a gambler, never played fantasy football, never followed my team during the hot summer months. I’m a fall-season-until-Super-Bowl-only fan, but die-hard nonetheless. Something about investing my emotions for three hours in the fate of eleven men dressed in purple tights soothes my busy spirit.

Having given birth to three sons, I dreamed I’d have the makings of a starring offensive lineup. My oldest son, Neil, would play quarterback; Brett would be a running back; and my youngest, Kevin, would be a wide receiver. My daughters and I would lead cheers from the stands. My husband, Mike, who had played in our hometown high school and helped bring them to state in his senior year, would help coach. We’d be a football family, training with weights and running in the off-season. We’d plan our vacations around summer practices, and I’d join the booster club, maybe sell raffle tickets, even host the end-of-the-year potluck.

If girls could have played football in our tiny town, I know that Brianna and Amy would have joined the team. They became my cohorts, huddling under stadium blankets and clapping their mittens together as we cheered our high school team to victory.

Alas, Neil joined chess club, and Brett became a lead in the school plays.

The football gene seemed to have eluded even our youngest son. A boy who would rather sit on the sofa moving his thumbs in furious online game playing as his only form of exercise, Kevin didn’t possess even a hint of interest in football. I knew he’d inherited some athleticism, as evidenced by the discarded sports equipment left in his wake over the years: hockey skates, pads, helmet, basketball shoes, a tennis racket, a baseball glove. All abandoned after one season of hopeful use.

The only sport that seemed to take had been soccer. For three years I entered into the world of soccer mom, investing in my own foldout chair and a cooler. Perhaps it was his boundless energy that allowed him to play nearly the entire game, but Kevin had a knack for getting the ball in the net. Too bad our community soccer program ended at sixth grade, because Big Lake might have had its very own star. I’d hoped his interest would transfer to football, the other fall sport, but the old pigskin seemed as interesting to Kevin as cleaning his room.

Meanwhile, Neil, Brett, Brianna, and Amy graduated and moved out of the house, bound for college—most obtaining scholarships, much to the relief of my overworked, underpaid EMT husband. By the time Kevin moved into Neil’s basement teen hangout room, Neil was married and working as a CPA in Milwaukee, Brett was doing commercials in Chicago, Brianna had started graduate school for psychology, and Amy was studying abroad in London.

I worried for Kevin as he approached his senior year, envisioning him taking on a post–high school job at the local Dairy Queen while he honed his gaming skills, waiting for his future to somehow find him in the dark recesses of our basement amid his piled dirty clothing, his unmade bed, and the debris of pizza cartons. How I longed for him to grow up.

So the day he came home from school clutching a medical release form for football in his hand, I wondered if perhaps he had a high fever and needed immediate hospitalization.

“I’ve been thinking of playing for a while,” he said, shrugging. “It’s my last chance.”

Summertime had begun its slide into fall, the northern nights cooling. In two short months, we’d have our first snowfall. As I stared at my son—his stringy blond hair, his muscles that just needed toning, the way his gaze slid away from me and onto the floor—I wondered if he expected me to say no.

I took the pen and signed the form without reading it.

Teenage sons are often difficult to encourage. Instead of erupting into a wild jig of joy in the middle of the kitchen, I took the subtle route. I purchased football cleats and set them by the door to his room. I filled his water bottle every morning, packing it with ice, then slipping it into his backpack. I started baking pot roasts and cutting him the largest piece. I bought Bengay, put it on his pillow. I set vitamins out for him at breakfast.

And sometimes, yes, I snuck up in my SUV and sat at the edge of the field, behind the goalposts, watching practice.

My son had talent. A lot of talent. And I wasn’t the only one who noticed. Our residence in a small town played to Kevin’s odds, and being bigger and faster than most of his teammates made up for his inability to block. Coach Grant started him at tackle, then moved him to fullback, then, after noting his ability to twist out of a hold (thanks to years of wrestling for the remote control with his brothers), landed him at tailback.

To my silent glee, my son had the moves of Walter Payton and could dance his way up the field, leaping opponents, breaking tackles, and generally restoring my faith in the Wallace family football gene. I couldn’t wait for the season to start. Finally, I had a Big Lake Trout.

I purchased a season pass. A stadium cushion. A foam finger.

I was the first one in the gates on the day of the season opener. Mike stood on the sidelines next to the requisite ambulance, something that I’d always noted but never fully appreciated until now.

He waved to me as I plopped down my cushion, pulled my red and black stadium blanket over my knees, and wrestled out my digital camera, prepared to capture every moment of my son’s magnificent run to victory. Mike had taken Kevin out for dinner the night before for what I hoped would be a pep talk/strategic-planning session. I wasn’t the only one holding tightly to silent hopes.

“You’re here early.”

I looked up from reviewing shots of Brianna’s college graduation to see Bud Finlaysen greeting me from the field. Bundled in orange hunting coveralls as an undergarment, he wore over the top the shiny black and silver costume of the Big Lake Trout team mascot. Bud had served as the Trout since what I assumed was the dawn of time, or at least the game of football, and we needed him like summer needs lemonade. He and his fish costume comprised the entirety of our cheerleading squad. Our cheerleaders had defected three years prior, and despite the efforts of our paltry pep band, we were woefully lacking in sideline team spirit.

Bud held his headpiece under one arm, the gargantuan mouth gaping open. When worn, his face showed through the open mouth, the enormous fishy eyes googling out from atop his head, a spiky dorsal fin running along his back. He’d shove his hands into two front fins that sparkled with shiny silver material. The costume split at the bottom for his black boots, and a tail dragged behind him like a medieval dragon. Once fitted together, the Big Lake Trout towered nearly eight feet tall, although with the tail, it easily measured over ten. Ten feet of aquatic terror.

“I have a son playing tailback,” I said, holding up my camera and taking a shot of Bud. “Gotta get a good seat.”

Bud laughed. I remembered him from the days when I attended Big Lake High. He worked as the school janitor. Even then he seemed ancient, although he must have been only twenty years or so older than I was. Thin, with kind blue eyes and a hunch in his back, he’d drag his yellow mop bucket around the halls singing Christmas carols, even in May.

“Maybe this will be the year they go to state,” he said, pulling on his giant head. “They’ve got some good players.” He gave me a little wink, as if to suggest Kevin might be one of them.

I smiled, but inside I longed for his words to be true.

State champions. The Super Bowl of high school sports. I could barely think the words.

Bud moved up the field, where he stood at the gate, waiting for the team to pour out onto the field. I waved to friends as the stands filled. In a town of 1,300, a Friday night football game is the hot ticket. A coolness nipped the air, spiced with the bouquet of decaying leaves and someone grilling their last steaks of the season.

The band, a motley crew that took up four rows of seats, assembled. I hummed along as they warmed up with the school fight song.

Town grocer Gil Anderson manned the booth behind me and announced the team. I leaped to my feet in a display of disbelief and joy as the Trouts surged out of the school and onto the playing field.

Each player’s hand connected with one of Bud’s fins on the way to the field.

I spotted Kevin right off, big number 33. He looked enormous with his pads. As he stretched, I noted how lean and strong he’d become over the past six weeks of training. I held my breath as he took the sidelines, wishing for a start for him. To my shock, he took the field after the kickoff, just behind the offensive line.

I’ve never been one to hold back when it comes to football. I cheered my lungs out, pretty sure the team needed my sideline coaching. And when Kevin got the ball and ran it in for a touchdown, I pounded Gretchen Gilstrap on the shoulders in front of me. “That’s my son!”

She gave me a good-natured thumbs-up.

We won the game by two touchdowns and a field goal. As Kevin pulled off his helmet and looked for me in the stands, his blond hair sweaty and plastered to his face, I heard Bud’s words again: “Maybe this will be the year they go to state.”

What is it they always say? Be careful what you wish for?


“Amazing run on Friday!”

“I didn’t know your son could play football!”

“Kevin has his father’s moves—I remember when Mike took them all the way to state!”

I love my church. I stood in the foyer, receiving accolades for birthing such a stupendous athlete, smiling now and again at Kevin, who was closing up shop at the sound board that he ran every Sunday. Mike had already gone to get the car—his favorite “giddyap and out of church” maneuver. I still had more compliments to gather.

After all, Kevin had been a ten-pound baby. I get some credit.

I worked my way to the fellowship hall to pick up my empty pan. With eighty members, sixty attendees on a good Sunday, we took turns hosting the midmorning coffee break. I had whipped up a batch of my grandmother’s almond coffee cake.

Pastor Backlund stood by the door, and when I finally reached him, he grinned widely. “Great game, Marianne.”

“Thanks. I’ll tell Kevin you said so.”

“Must be strange to have your youngest be a senior this year.”

I was trying not to think about that, but yes, although I was thrilled to see Kevin move off the sofa and onto the playing field, I was dreading the inevitable quiet that would invade our home next year. I smiled tightly.

“I hope that will leave you more time to get involved at church?” His eyebrow quirked up, as if I’d been somehow delinquent over the past twenty-five years. I was mentally doing the math, summing up just how many years in a row I’d taught Sunday school, when he added, “Would you consider taking on the role of hospitality chairperson?”

“Hey, Mom!” Kevin appeared beside me. “Can I head over to Coach’s for lunch? A bunch of guys are getting together to talk about the game.”

I glanced at him, back to the pastor. “Sure.”

“Perfect,” Kevin said, disappearing out the door.

“Wonderful,” Pastor Backlund said, reaching for his next parishioner.

Mike, now spotting me, leaned on his horn.

I’d have to call the pastor later and politely decline his offer to let me take command of the weekly coffee break, the quarterly potluck, and most importantly, the annual Christmas Tea. The hospitality position came staffed with women decades older than I, who could teach even Martha Stewart a few things about stretching a budget and creating centerpieces. I’d rather lead a camping trip for two hundred toddlers through a mosquito-infested jungle.

“Be back by supper!” I hollered to Kevin as he slid into his friend’s sedan. He didn’t even look back.

I climbed into our SUV next to Mike. His thoughts had already moved on, probably to the training he would attend next weekend. Or maybe just to lunch. We rode home in silence. I noticed how the brilliant greens of the poplar trees had turned brown, the maples to red, the oaks to orange. The wind had already stripped some of the trees naked.

I could admit that my leaves had started to turn. But I wasn’t ready to shed them yet.

I pressed my lips together and silently begged the winter winds to tarry.

Excerpted from The Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren. Copyright © 2009 by Susan May Warren. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

My review:
I LOVED this book! It was an easy read and helped me get in the "Christmas mood" months before the holiday arrives. I loved that the book is all about family--which is what holidays revolve around in my life as well. I highly recommend it!

Review: Medium Premiere

It's coming....the premiere of Medium on CBS! It officially BEGINS tomorrow, Friday, September 25 at 9/8c!

I will tell you that I was not a Medium watcher until I had the opportunity to preview this premiere. I was very impressed with all aspects of this show: the storyline, the suspense, the camera work, the acting....and now I plan on making sure that I watch each week!

Here's a sneak peek:

Are you familiar with the premise of the show? Here is a description from the CBS website:
MEDIUM is a drama inspired by the real-life story of research medium Allison Dubois, an extraordinary young wife and mother who, since childhood, has struggled to make sense of her dreams and visions of dead people. Emmy Award winner Patricia Arquette stars as Dubois, a strong-willed, devoted young wife and mother of three girls who has gradually come to grips with her extraordinary ability to talk to dead people, see current events and the future through her dreams and read people's thoughts. Dubois works as a consultant to District Attorney Manuel Devalos, using her psychic abilities to solve violent and horrifying crimes that baffle Phoenix police and others within the criminal justice system. Assisting her crime-solving endeavors is Detective Lee Scanlon, her longtime ally in the local police department. Meanwhile, at home, Dubois' husband Joe, an aerospace engineer, is a supportive husband and father who is also busy launching his own scientific engineering company. Their daughters, Ariel, Bridgette and Marie all seem to have inherited their mother's abilities to varying, expanding degrees. Last season, after experiencing headaches and other symptoms, Allison was diagnosed with a brain tumor, but after she postpones her surgery, she suffers a stroke and is in a coma.

If you are looking for a good tv show tomorrow night, check out Medium at 9 on CBS! I promise, you won't be disappointed!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Review: Rand McNally's Car Karaoke

Check out this neat new product that Rand McNally has begun producing as a line of Boredom Busters for the traveling family!

We were given the opportunity to review the Car Karoke set, Volume 1. The boys and I have had lots of fun with this, both singing along with the songs and goofing off with the inflatable microphone that is included. Several of the songs the boys already knew, but some they learned as they listened to me sing along. Of course, all of the songs are easy to catch onto, and we were all singing together in no time. Though not performed by the original artists, these songs are well done in the original style. Volume 1 includes the following songs:
I'm A Believer
Twist and Shout
Stand By Me
Take Me Home Country Roads
Build Me Up Buttercup
America the Beautiful
The Ants Go Marching
Camptown Races
She'll be Comin' 'Round the Mountain
Yankee Doodle
I've Been Workin' On the Railroad

Best of all, as we sang along together, this CD also prompted us into conversation about something they knew about the songs or for me to tell them a story related to the song. Not only was this fun, it helped us learn more about each other and relate to each other!

I highly recommend this Car Karaoke or any one of the Boredom Busters for your next family trip!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Abide With Me

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:

Abide With Me (Includes a CD of 20 wonderful, favorite British hymns.)

New Leaf Publishing Group/New Leaf Press; Har/Com edition (May 1, 2009)


John Parker, Professor of English at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, has taught Shakespeare and other literary classes there for twenty-eight years. He holds the M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Tennessee, and also the Master of Arts in Religion from Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis. At Lipscomb and previously at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee, he has also taught classes in the Bible.

Paul Seawright is currently Chair of Photography at the University of Ulster. Previously he was Dean of Art Media and Design at the University of Wales, Newport, and the Director of the Centre for Photographic Research. His photographs have been exhibited worldwide and are held in many museum collections including The Tate London, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, International Centre of Photography New York, Portland Art Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Paul has a Ph.D. in Photography from the University of Wales and was awarded a personal chair in 2002. He is an honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, currently chairing their Fellowship panel. He is also a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. He has published six books.

Visit the authors' website.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Publishing Group/New Leaf Press; Har/Com edition (May 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0892216905
ISBN-13: 978-0892216901


Abide With Me
A Photographic Journey Through Great British Hymns

Text by John H. Parker

Photography by Paul Seawright


The focus of Abide with Me is place—the places in England and Wales where the great Britishhymns were written and where the stories of the men and women who wrote them unfolded: Olney (“Amazing Grace”), Brighton (“Just As I Am”), Stoke Newington (“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”), Broadhembury (“Rock of Ages”), and many others. This book shows and tells about those places and what you would see if you visited them.

On the north coast of England, silhouetted against the gray sky and the dark sea, stand the ruins of Whitby Abbey. There in the sixth century a common sheep herder named Caedmon wrote the earliest surviving hymn written in English. In the centuries following—Middle Ages, Renaissance, Eighteenth Century, Nineteenth Century—men

and women devoted to Christ and blessed with the gift of poetry composed the words of the English hymns sung in Britain, in America, and across the globe, generation after generation—sung in times of happiness, grief, joy, fear, and wonder. Here are the places those writers lived and their life stories.

Join us now for a stroll through the quaint Cotswolds, the beautiful Lake District, bustling

London, and the glorious poppy-bedecked English countryside as you meet the great minds whose works have inspired, uplifted, and carried us through the tragedies and triumphs of our lives. It’s a journey of the heart and soul—a meandering through your own spirituality.

Speaking to one another in psalms

and hymns and spiritual songs.

Ephesians 5:19

Lost & Found

Olney, on the Ouse River in Northampton, England, not far from Cambridge, was a small farming and crafts village in the late eighteenth century. As we drive into the market square this Sunday afternoon, we find a bustling and cheerful town with two popular claims. One is the annual pancake race on Shrove Tuesday when housewives run 415 yards from the marketplace to the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, each carrying a pan holding a pancake, which she flips on crossing the finish line. The other is the curate and preacher for that church from 1764–1780, John Newton (1725–1807), and the vicarage, where he wrote perhaps the most popular hymn of all time, “Amazing Grace.”

The church was expanded during those years to accommodate the crowds who came to hear John, and its square tower still rises over the Ouse River. The sanctuary is large and impressive, and a stained-glass window commemorates the preacher and his hymn. Still, time has encroached a bit. His pulpit is now somewhat pushed back into a corner, though John Newton’s Pulpit is proudly displayed along one edge. John’s rather smallish portrait hangs on the stone buttress of one wall, sharing space between a fire extinguisher and a bulletin board where his name promotes a ministry in Sierra Leone. But after 230 years, it’s still John Newton whose story and hymn live on here.

John was born to a master mariner, who was often away at sea, and a mother who taught him Bible lessons and the hymns of Isaac Watts (see pages 38-41). But she died

when he was only six years old. At age eleven, after a few years of living with relatives or attending boarding school, he began sailing with his father.

In time John fell in love with Mary Catlett, daughter of friends of his mother, but in 1744 he was forced to serve on a naval ship. He records that while watching England’s coast fade as the ship sailed away, he would have killed either himself or the captain except for his love of Mary.

Later John managed to join the crew of a slave trade ship, the brutal traffic he so much regretted in later years. This life blotted out his early religious training and led him into bad behavior. Finally, though, when a fierce March storm one night in 1748 threatened to sink his ship, he prayed for the first time in years. And for the rest of his life he regarded every March 21 as the anniversary of his conversion. Relapses occurred, but after a serious illness he committed himself to God, returned to England, and married

Mary in 1750.

John worked for a while in civil service in the region of Yorkshire. But soon he became popular as a lay preacher, developing friendships with George Whitefield and John

Wesley, and began to consider the ministry. Although he studied biblical languages and theology privately, he received ordination in the Church of England only after completing

his autobiography, Authentic Narrative, in 1764, an account that caused influential religious leaders to recognize his spiritual commitment. The book was soon translated into several languages.

John’s principal sponsor for priesthood, Lord William Dartmouth, helped arrange the station for John in Olney, and for the next sixteen years he lived in the vicarage and

preached at St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s and in surrounding parishes. His religious devotion, remarkable personal history, and natural poetic skills gave John the gifts and preparation for writing hymns—especially one great hymn—but he needed a circumstance to prompt him. That came in 1767 when William Cowper moved to Olney.

William was one of England’s fine eighteenth-century poets, producing The Task (1784) and translations of Homer. He received an excellent literary education at Westminster

School in London and, at his father’s wish, studied for the bar. But he lived an often-miserable life. Depression, his distaste for the law, poverty, and an ill-fated romance with his cousin Theadora Cowper ruined any chances of happiness. More than once he attempted suicide.

During this trauma William found relief in the home of friends first made in Huntingdon—Morley and Mary Unwin, a religious and wealthy couple. When Morley died from a fall from his horse in April of 1767, Mary moved to Olney with her daughter Susanna to be near the renowned preacher John Newton. In fact, only an orchard stood between the rear yard of their house, Orchard Side, and John’s vicarage. Soon, William also came to Olney and moved in with them. The two poets became close friends, and by 1771 they were collaborating on what became one of England’s most successful hymnals, The Olney Hymns.

On a bright June afternoon we stroll with Elizabeth Knight in the garden of Orchard Side, now the Cowper & Newton museum, where she has been curator for more than thirty years. Nestled in the rows of flowers is an odd little summerhouse in which William gazed through its side and rear windows. Here he wrote most of the hymns in his part of the collection. After another lapse into depression, he wrote few others, but by that time he had composed his great hymns, “There is a Fountain” and “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.”

Leaving the Orchard Side garden, we walk through the site of the original orchard, to the back of the two-story brick vicarage, and look up to the last dormer window on the top right. Here, in this room, during the last two weeks of December 1772, John Newton wrote “Amazing Grace.”

In his book Amazing Grace: The Story of America’s Most Beloved Hymn (Harper Collins, 2002), music historian Steve Turner records that John routinely wrote hymns to accompany his sermons and composed “Amazing Grace” in preparation for a New Year’s Day sermon on January 1, 1773. He also observes that the words of the hymn evidently paraphrase entries from John’s notebook. For example, the entry “Millions of unseen dangers” is rendered “through many dangers, toils, and snares” in the song. Turner gives these illustrations of Newton’s use of the Scriptures in the hymn:

Newton embroidered biblical phrases

and allusions into all his writing.

The image of being lost and found alludes to the parable

of the prodigal son, where the father

is quoted as saying in Luke 15:24,

“For this my son was dead, and is alive again;

he was lost, and is found.”

His confession of wretchedness may have been drawn

from Paul’s exclamation in Rom. 7:24,

“O wretched man that I am!

Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

The contrast of blindness and sight refers directly

to John 9:25, when a man healed by Jesus says,

“One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind,

now I see.”

Newton had used this phrase in his diary

during his seafaring days when he wrote on

August 9, 1752,

“The reason [for God’s mercy] is unknown to

me, but one thing I know, that whereas

I was blind, now I see.”

Turner observes that this day of the introduction of “Amazing Grace,” in Lord Dartmouth’s Great House in Olney, was also the last that the despondent William Cowper came to church.

John and William published The Olney Hymns in 1779. The following year, 1880, William Cowper died, and John accepted a pulpit position at St. Mary Woolnoth Church in London. Audiences continued large here as well. Visitors today can pass through a wrought-iron gate and coffee shop at the entrance, walk through the church doors into the sanctuary, and view the ornate pulpit where the slave-trader turned preacher delivered sermons for the next twenty-seven years, becoming a major figure in the

evangelical portion of the Anglican Church. He died on December 21, 1807, and was buried with Mary at St. Mary Woolchurch in London. They were re-interred at the Church

of St. Peter and St. Paul in Olney in 1893. And he is primarily remembered for these touching words:

Amazing Grace (1772)

Ephesians 2:8-9

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found;

Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed!

The Lord has promised good to me,

His Word my hope secures;

He will my Shield and Portion be,

As long as life endures.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,

The sun forbear to shine;

But God, who called me here below,

Will be forever mine.

My review
I LOVE this collection, both the CD and the book! The book is lovely, and I so enjoyed reading the stories behind these beloved hymns. The thought occurred to me that this would be a perfect gift for any church musician or for a pastor! I've enjoyed listening to this CD and sharing these classic hymns with my children. It is a wonderfully put together collection all around!