Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother of Pearls Series Day 7



Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.


AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.



If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.



And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!




What I Didn't Know by Rhonda Shrock



I always knew I wanted to be a mother.  As a girl, I played house with my dollies, shushing them when they cried and kissing their plastic heads.



Looking back at that girl, I realize now that there was a lot she didn't know.  This morning over my fresh-ground coffee, this mother of 22-1/2 years scratched out a list of 10 things she didn't know then that she knows now.



1.  I didn't know - how could I? - just how completely a tiny, helpless scrap of humanity can capture the heart and hold it forever.  From that first whooshing heartbeat and the first butterfly brushes, a mother's heart is never again her own.  For all eternity, it enlarges, walking and pulsing and moving outside of her body; in my case, in the shape of a blue-eyed boy with rooster tails.  Times four.



2.  I didn't know that the size of a mother's heart is always changing, stretching to embrace each new baby that comes, then growing again to love their friends and then their own families.



3.  I never knew, as I changed my dolly's dress, how many reasons there are to worry when you're a mama.   Didn't know about the nighttime vigils.  Didn't know the anxiety of separation, the terror that floods when you turn around in the grocery store and they're gone.  Didn't know about the fear of the pond next door or the concern that pays for swimming lessons.  Didn't know the thousand-and-one reasons that keep a mother awake, whispering prayers on her pillow in the dark.



4.  No one told me that loving so much means that you will hurt hard and keen;  that what pains your child hurts you even worse.  I didn't know then that a playground taunt travels through that smaller heart and lands square in yours, stinging and burning like fire.  I didn't know that motherhood makes lionesses of us all and that there'd be days I'd have to bite my tongue and pray to not sin.



5.  I didn't know how exhausting it is, being a mother.  I didn't know that it takes everything you've got and then some.  Didn't know the bone-deep exhaustion; how it strips you bare and shows how selfish you can be, but, too, that you have more strength than you know.



6.  I didn't know, playing house, how much joy mothers feel; joy so big that it makes up for the pain.  Just looking at those eyes and the curve of the cheek can make you so happy it hurts.  Watching them grow and find their talent and win at something...all the money in the world can never buy that kind of happiness.



7.  I didn't know how making babies and raising them, how it binds you to their father.  I didn't know the intimacy you feel when your eyes meet above those tousled heads, and your smiles say, "Just look at what we've done."



8.  That girl in the homemade dress, she didn't know that letting go is one of the hardest things a grown-up mama will ever do.  Rocking those babies in that small rocking chair, she didn't really know that babies grow up and walk away and there goes your heart, out into the big, wide world.  No one told her that part.



9.  I had no idea how rewarding it is, being a mother.  How the happiness that comes from boy kisses and awkward hugs can't be bought or sold.  How proud you feel when you see what they're growing up to be and that all the planting and pruning and watering and feeding is finally making fruit!



10.  I didn't know how much my babies would enrich my spiritual life or how they would change the way I pray.  I didn't realize they would lead me to a deeper dependence on the Heavenly Father or how I much I would need His wisdom to raise them aright.



These are things I didn't know before I was a mother.  But I know them now.  Oh, how I know them now!  And I’d do it all again.



###

Rhonda Schrock lives in Northern Indiana with her husband and 4 sons, ages 22, 18, 13, and 5. By day, she is a telecommuting medical transcriptionist. In the early morning hours, she flees to a local coffee shop where she pens “Grounds for Insanity,” a weekly column that appears in The Goshen News. She is an occasional guest columnist in The Hutch News.  She’s also blogged professionally for her son’s school of choice, Bethel College, in addition to humor and parenting blogs, and maintains her personal blog, “The Natives are Getting Restless.” She is a writer and editor for the magazine, "Cooking & Such:  Adventures in Plain Living."  She survives and thrives on prayer, mochas, and books.  





Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!







Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother of Pearls Series Day 6



Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.


AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.



If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.



And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!




He Will Walk With You by Carey Bailey



As a little girl, I loved baby dolls. Loved them! I played school, adoption agency, daycare operator and babysitter all day. I felt like I was born to be a mama. Therefore, I was a bit anxious when the ages, 22, 25, 28 and 32 came and went and there were no babies. Have you ever desired something so much and feared never getting it? That was me.



My day finally came at the age of 34. I soon realized that God knew what He was doing when He had me wait. To my shock, it wasn’t as easy as playing with dolls. I was surprised that it wasn’t the dream world I imagined it would be! I felt like life became a gigantic prayer.



“God, HELP me!”



“Please, God. Please, please, please make it all better. I can’t do this!”



“God, this feels impossible. Where are you?”



While I adore motherhood, it is harder and there are more adjustments than I expected. (I am hoping there are some nodding of heads and Amen’s being said out there in cyberworld.) Not only did I have a new life to care for, but my identity suddenly felt all scrambled up. It took me until my son was one to finally feel confident in my new role as a mother, confident that I could drop my child off at preschool without crying, confident that I could go out with the girls’ and the world wouldn’t fall apart, and confident that I could go on a date night and have conversations that didn’t revolve just around our son.



I was feeling settled in my new world and then WHAM! I discovered I was pregnant again. Can I be vulnerable with you? I actually cried when I found out. And they were not tears of joy. I feel awful saying that out loud, and I hope you will give me a moment to explain. It was not that I didn’t want another baby or feel like I couldn’t love a new life, it was just that I got scared. Discovering a little person was on the way sent a panic through me. Would my son still receive the love and attention that he deserved? How was my husband going to feel about my body changing again? Would I ever be able to pursue the vision I felt God had for me in writing and publishing? I was truly wondering if I was going to be able to handle another intense wave of identity crisis like the one I had just been through. I wasn’t sure.



God and I needed a serious talk. And in that conversation He carefully reminded me of this:



For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11



He reminded me in our time together that I, too, am His child and He has every intention of loving me, caring for me, and giving me the future that He has planned for me.



As mothers, we can get so caught up in parenting that we forget that we, too, have a spiritual parent who loves us as His child. He loves you as much as He loves the children He has given you. He will never forsake you.  And on those days when motherhood seems too overwhelming and too impossible I step back and take a deep breath. Then I remember that this journey I am on, right now, is the one He has designed and create uniquely for me. I simply need to live in it, learn from it, and allow His love to sweep over and through me.



He will walk with me! He will walk with you! Grab His hand.



###


Carey Bailey is a recovering perfectionist, wife, proud mama, and the Family Life Director for her church in Arizona. She hosts an online community for moms called Cravings: desiring God in the midst of motherhood where she strives to make God time easier. Not less meaningful, just easier. She is the author of Cravings {The Devotional} which is a set of forty devotional flashcards for the mama on the go. Visit Carey online blog: www.cravingstheblog.blogspot.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CravingsOnline and Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/careycbailey/




Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!





Mother of Pearls Series Day 5



Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.


AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.



If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.



And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!




Stepping Out on Faith by Bonnie St. John


"Darcy . . .”



“Yeah, Mom?”



I momentarily held the undivided attention of my teenage daughter. Her thumbs, free of their ubiquitous texting keypad, quietly dangled by her side. Her computer and its omnipresent Facebook page were completely out of sight. I had almost forgotten what she looked like without all these adolescent accoutrements. As we sat down together on the burgundy leather sofa in our living room, I realized this fleeting state of electronic dislocation was my chance to hatch a plan I had been formu- lating for the past several weeks. Carpe diem.



“How would you like to write a book together?”



“About what?” I asked my mom. Write a book? This was a real surprise. I felt a bit suspicious, but still curious.  I love to write, and Mom kept telling me I was really good at it. I like writing poetry, fantasy, and sci-fi, though.  The books Mom wrote were all nonfiction.  I wondered what we could possibly do together.



“Well . . .” I hesitated. If I wanted her to commit to any extra work out- side her busy schedule at school—not to mention work alongside her mother—I had to make this really great. “It would be about women as leaders,” I continued, “a mother-daughter investigation into leadership styles and structures.”



“Leadership?” I blurted. It came out as if I had a bad taste in my mouth—which I did.  I couldn’t imagine a more boring topic to write about. What is there to say about leadership anyway? When you’re in charge, you just get things done, right? Who wants to talk about that?



Her furrowed brow told me I was losing her fast. “Um . . . we could find women leaders all around the world!” I said impulsively, frantically casting the ultimate bait.



“Really? Would we get to travel a lot?”  I hadn’t thought about that. Heck, I’d write about the mating habits of tsetse flies  if I got to go to Africa to do it!



But this project wasn’t just about the influence it would have on Darcy. I wanted to do something that could have a potent impact on an alarming trend I had witnessed in workplaces across the country: far too many women appeared to be making a choice not to apply for top leadership positions when presented with the opportunities to do so.



This project, then, was a bit of a Trojan horse. On the one hand, the saga of a mother-daughter journey could seduce female readers, who might never bother to read the Harvard Business School dissertations on the subject, into a meaningful conversation about leadership. At the same time, if Darcy met a series of brilliant, accomplished women— people even a cynical teen would be in awe of—perhaps they could tell her all the things I’d like her to know—and more.



And she just might listen.



But where to start? How would we make it work? I suggested we do most of our research by phone, as I did for How Strong Women Pray. My telephone interviews with a governor, some CEOs, actors, sports figures, a college president, and others yielded great stories and information. I promised my intrepid co-author, though, that we could punctuate these conversations with a few visits in person to exciting and exotic places—all with reasonably priced airfares.



“Why don’t we follow each subject as she goes about her daily life? That way our readers get to come along with us and get a behind- the-scenes look at what happens to them. Instead of just a boring interview, we—and our readers—get to hang around with these women, see them in their natural habitat, and even see how other people treat them.”



Although I agreed it was a wonderful approach, this idea of “job- shadowing” each featured subject wasn’t going to be easy. Would these high-powered, important women deign to allow us that kind of access? Would they be able to impart the kind of wisdom that would resonate with our readers and truly make a difference in their lives?  We looked at each other, both of us hooked on a crazy idea that we weren’t sure we could pull off.



“It sounds impossible, Darcy,” I said. “We might as well get started.”



And so, we stepped out . . . on faith.



###




Bonnie is a 1984 Paralympics silver medal winner in ski racing. Her education includes a degree with honors from Harvard, a Rhodes scholarship, and an M.Litt in Economics from Oxford.  Her career includes positions as an award-winning sales rep for IBM and a Clinton White House member of staff. She now is a much-in-demand speaker, who makes nearly 100 speeches each year to corporations and civic groups. You can visit her on the Web at www.bonniestjohn.com.





Re-printed with permission from How Great Women Lead by Bonnie St. John and Darcy Deane








Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!






Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother of Pearls Series Day 4



Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.


AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.



If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.



And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!



What I Am Not by Tricia Goyer



Becoming a mother is a complicated thing. Not only am I trying to negotiate a relationship with my child, I am trying to negotiate a relationship with myself as I attempt to determine how I mother, how I feel about mothering, how I want to mother and how I wish I was mothered.

— Andrea J. Buchanan, in Mother Shock3


Sometimes the easiest way to discover who we are is to know who we are not.



We are not our children. We all know mothers who go overboard trying to make themselves look good by making their children look great. I saw one woman on the Oprah television show who had bought her preschool daughter more than twelve pairs of black shoes just so the girl could have different styles to go with her numerous outfits! Just as we -don’t get report cards for mothering, we also -don’t get graded on our child’s looks or accomplishments. While you want your children to do their best and succeed in life, your self-esteem -shouldn’t be wrapped up in your child.



Life as I See It:



My individuality will never end. There will be no one exactly like me, not even my child. She will be like me in some ways, but not at all in others. I -wouldn’t have it any other way.

— Desiree, Texas


We are not our mothers. I remember the first time I heard my mother’s voice coming out of my mouth. The words “because I told you so .  .  .” escaped before I had a chance to squelch them.



It’s not until we have kids that we truly understand our mothers — all their frets, their nagging, and their worries.



It’s also then that we truly understand their love.



Since you are now a mother, it’s good to think back on how you were raised. If there were traditions or habits that now seem wise and useful, incorporate them into your parenting. You also have permission to sift out things you now know -weren’t good. Just because you’re a product of your mother, that -doesn’t mean you have to turn out just like her. Repeat after me, “I am not my mother.”



We are not like any other mother out there. Sometimes you may feel like the world’s worst mother. After all, your friend never yells at her son — and sometimes you do. Then again, your friend may feel bad because you have a wonderful bedtime routine that includes stories and songs. In many cases, the moms you feel inferior to only look like they have it together. All moms feel they -don’t “measure up.” Instead of feeling unworthy, we should realize that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. The key is where we place our focus.



The Bible says, “Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without .  .  . comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we -aren’t” (Romans 12:5 – 6, MESSAGE).



The problem with comparison is, we always measure our weaknesses against the strengths of others.



Instead, we need to thank God for our strengths. We can also ask God to help us overcome our weaknesses — not because we want to compare ourselves, or look good in someone else’s eyes, but because we want to be the best mom out there.



###





Tricia Goyer is a CBA best-selling author and the winner of two American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Awards (Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights). She co-wrote 3:16 Teen Edition with Max Lucado and contributed to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Also a noted marriage and parenting writer, she lives with her husband and children in Arkansas. You can find her online at www.triciagoyer.com or at her weekly radio show, Living Inspired.











Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!






Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mother of Pearls Series Day 3



Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.


AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.



If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.



And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!



She’s…My Everything by Suzanne Woods Fisher



A mother is one who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take.

--Cardinal Mermillod 


Just a few more months. My mother was hoping Dad would hang on long enough so they could celebrate their sixtieth wedding anniversary in April. But on January 1st, as the sun rose on the new year, my dad’s worn out heart beat its last. Dad had battled Alzheimer’s Disease for ten years. As many of you know, AD is a long, hard journey. Hard on the one afflicted with the disease, hard on the caregivers.



But not without its blessings.



Four years ago, as I began researching stories for Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World, my path crossed with a handful of Plain families who were coping with Alzheimer’s. It was just about the point when Dad’s illness was shifting from early to mid stages AD and the timing was a divine accident. I learned so much as I observed the calm acceptance of these families. Rather than waste time shaking a fist at God for allowing this disease to take their loved one, they put their energy into trusting God’s sovereignty. They didn’t deny the difficulties and complications and sadness of Alzheimer’s, but they didn’t dwell on them. “God has a plan,” one woman told me. “He always has a plan.”  



Something else I noticed was how privileged my Amish friends felt about caring for their loved one. Caring for the elderly, they believe, is the time to give back to them.



Those encounters shaped my perspective of Dad’s illness. I started to pay attention to how God provided answers to new wrinkles created by Alzheimer’s, just in time. God may be slow, but He is never late.

I started to cherish special moments or good days with Dad—just as he was at each point in his illness. Not mourning the past, not dreading the future.



I really miss my dad. I miss his scratchy whiskers and the way his eyebrows would wiggle at us, even as words failed him. Yet I have such peace in my heart that he was well loved and well cared for, right to the very end. And as hard as Dad’s end of life has been, it isn’t the end. We will meet again. As the saying goes, “Some may see a hopeless end, but as believers we rejoice in an endless hope.”



There’s a beautiful story that illustrates my parents’ 59-year marriage. This event happened about a year or two ago. My sister had accompanied our mother to the doctor appointment for Dad at the Stanford Memory Clinic.



Dad had declined quite a bit that month. He was weak and lethargic, even to the point of whispering, as if it took too much energy to project his voice. During the doctor's appointment, the doctor told my mother and sister that Dad was now in late stages of Alzheimer's. Dad didn’t have much vocabulary left, but when the doctor asked him who mom was, he whispered something back. The doctor looked at Mom and asked, "Did you hear what he just said?"



Mom shook her head.



"When I asked him who you were, he whispered, 'She's...my everything.'"



###


Suzanne Woods Fisher is a writer of bestselling fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish. Her interest in the Plain People began with her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. Suzanne is the host of Amish Wisdom, a weekly radio program on toginet.com, and writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post. Suzanne can be found on-line at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.





Re-printed with permission by Cooking & Such, www.sherrygorebooks.com.







Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!







Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mother of Pearls Series Day 2



Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.


AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.



If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.



And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!




Joy Comes from Perseverance by Sheila Walsh




One of the most important lessons I have learned in my own life is the joy that comes from perseverance. Eugene Peterson, borrowing a phrase from Friedrich Nietzsche, wrote his book  “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction …Discipleship in an Instant Society.” He points to the Psalms as the way believers have always learned to pray what they live and live what they pray but it is not a short journey. It is an intentional commitment to keep walking even when you are worn out.




*If we want to see lasting results in any area of life it’s important to keep walking in that direction.



*If we want to have a better understanding of the Gospel of John then it takes time and commitment to dig deeper day after day.



*If we want to be thinner this summer than last summer then the work begins now not then.

So too in our relationship with Christ…..



*If we want to know Him at a more profoundly intimate level, that also takes an intentional seeking after Him every day.



As a grown woman I have come to love the beauty of this gift. Passing this “mined treasure” onto my son on the other hand has been an interesting challenge.  We live in such a fast paced, attention-challenged culture where the latest thing can be delivered to your doorstep by tomorrow for a few dollars more. But, as you know, by the time it is delivered it has already been replaced or updated!



How do we speak then into the lives of our children to help them understand and value perseverance?



For me…part of the puzzle meant a large piece of poster board, scissors, some photos and a bottle of Elmer’s glue. My son, Christian and I spread everything out on a sheet in the game room as I explained our project. “We’re going to make a family faith-tree,” I said. “These are photos of family on your dad’s side and on mine. Many of them have gone on to be with Jesus but the seeds they planted into our family continue to grow.” Then we wrote down their names and when they came to faith in Christ (as many as I knew).  It was quite something to see when we were finished.



“Your life matters Christian. Running your race well matters.”



That night we read these words from the writer to the Hebrews,



We are surrounded by a great cloud of people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up.

Hebrews 12:1 (NCV)

###

Sheila Walsh is a Bible teacher, speaker, singer, and best-selling author with more than 4 million books sold. Sheila Walsh is the creator of the award-winning Gigi, God’s Little Princess® and her new series, Gabby, God's Little Angel. Meet Gabby in Gabby's Stick-to-It-Day. As a featured speaker with Women of Faith®, Sheila has reached more than 3.5 million women by artistically combining honesty, vulnerability and humor with God’s Word. She resides in Dallas with her husband Barry and son Christian. Visit www.sheilawalsh.com for more information about Sheila, her other books or Women of Faith.










Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!





Monday, May 7, 2012

Mother of Pearls Series Day 1



Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.


AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.



If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.



And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!



Priceless Treasure by Cindy K. Stiverson



We've heard it said and often find it true:

You don't know the value of a treasure until you're without it. 



We take for granted the things in life that seem so readily available.

   A paperclip or rubber band, to hold things together.

   A tissue or napkin, to wipe our nose to clean our face, to absorb our tears.

   A Bible to speak words of wisdom and instruction and life and love.



And a Mother, who is all these things and more.

   She is readily available.

   She holds things together.

   She wipes our nose, cleans our face (and our fingers, and, well…everything else!)

   She absorbs our tears and calms our fears.

  "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." (Proverbs 31:26)

   She loves.



Within hours after my mother passed into the gates of our heavenly home, I was missing her. Her quick wit…humor…charm. Her warm smile and melodious laughter, which served her well to the very end, as did our Lord Jesus Christ, who so graciously allowed her to slip quietly and peacefully into His arms.



She simply stopped breathing.



As I stood at her bedside in those priceless moments after her passing, I wanted to touch her skin as much as possible while there was still warmth in her body; to nuzzle my nose against her head and breathe in the scent of her hair while she was still there. Priceless treasures I was guilty of taking for granted, clouded by unmet needs. I was so consumed with what she was not, that I never fully appreciated who she was. It’s like I was blind, but now I see!



I see her strength, her commitment. Her perseverance…sacrifice…her unspoken love. I see how much she meant to me, how much she did for me, how much she taught me, and how much of the good in me was modeled by her.



She was a virtuous woman, as described in Proverbs 31 of the Bible.

“Her children stand and bless her… a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise (vs. 31).”



This last verse of the poem serves as an epitaph for the woman of virtue. It speaks of the legacy she leaves in her passing. It spurred me to write a personal epitaph for my mother, which I read at her funeral.



We publicly declare your praise today, 
and in the days to come,
for you deserve to be praised and blessed,
"We honor you, Mom, for all you have done!"

In my earliest of memories, 
You worked so hard, striving for the rest.
You persevered through great trials
and did your very best.

I know you are being rewarded
in ways far beyond our reach.
We honor you now by practicing what you've taught,
and even what you preached!

You've stood for us for all these years,
Today, we stand for you!
I pray that our applause on earth
will reach your heavenly ears.


With the reading of this poem, I asked everyone to stand. We clapped our hands in celebration and praise of the life of my mother, Margaret Alice Stiltner.



Imagine our surprise to discover that she had left a poetic epitaph for us! She had clipped it from an old magazine and framed it. I found it when I was cleaning her home, on a nightstand by her bed. My mother was never versed at expressing emotion. This was her sweet way of kissing us good-bye: a priceless treasure to remember her by.




###


Cynthia (Cindy) Stiverson is a speaker, writer, and artist.  In 1998, she founded Woven: Women of Virtue Network, a spiritual formation and friendship ministry. She pastors the women at Newark Church of the Nazarene in Ohio. She is currently working on her fourth Woven Workbook, and also a book for mothers and daughters on the subject of sexual abuse. Cindy considers raising her daughter, speaker/author Nicole Braddock Bromley, to be her greatest achievement. She loves the men in her life, hubby Mark, grandbabes Jude and Isaac, and son-in-law Matthew. You can find more of Cindy at www.WovenWomen.blogspot.com and www.CynthiaStiverson.com










Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!





Monday, March 5, 2012

Romance Blooms with Showers of Confidence

 

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Men are highly sensitive to signals of doubt because doubt plagues them.
If you continually give off signals of doubt, you will confirm the fear of inadequacy that lurks deep within your husband.

If a man believes he doesn’t have what it takes to please you, there’s not much chance he’ll attempt romance.

“A wise woman builds her house, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands” (Proverbs 14:1).

Doubting your husband and his abilities tears away at a man; conferring confidence builds him up.
A confident man is grateful to the one who believes in him.

Do you have confidence in your husband, or do you find yourself regularly second-guessing him?

Do you struggle with doubt when it comes to his abilities?
He needs to be supported by your confidence in him

  • at home
  • in the workplace
  • and in his dream for the future.

At home, I wanted Tom involved with the discipline of our children but was rarely pleased with his methods. I thought he was too strict and should be more understanding. Instead of communicating clearly with Tom about my concerns, I undermined his authority by smoothing things over with the kids behind his back.

My actions conveyed a lack of confidence in my husband.

I sabotaged our parenting and our marriage.

· Our kids learned their parents weren’t always on the same team, so if they worked on the more lenient parent, they might get their way.

· Tom felt hurt and angry.

Doubting my husband didn’t open any doors to romance!

The media constantly broadcast fear and doubt concerning the future. Against this tidal wave of doom and gloom,

it’s difficult for a man to confidently believe that God has planned a hopeful future for him.

When my husband was going through a job transition a couple of years ago, it became apparent he was struggling with doubt over his ability to succeed in a new venture. He was really down one day when he commented, “Most men don’t make a job change at fifty.”

I asked,

“Who says?”
He rewarded me with a smile from ear to ear.

Tom’s words weren’t so much a statement of fact as they were a question—he was asking me if I believed he could successfully make a job change at fifty.

A wise wife counteracts the media’s message of fear with a daily dose of confidence.

Inspiring confidence in your husband is like pouring water on dry, thirsty ground.

What seeds of potential lie dormant within your husband, waiting for the showers of your confidence?

What does your husband dream of doing?

Let your husband know that you believe in him. 

If you don’t, who will?

Breathe words of confidence into your husband today and watch as he stands taller with every word spoken.

That said, pray about which ones to encourage. If your husband’s dreams take him in a direction that worries you, consider your concerns.
Are they rooted in selfishness or fear?

Turn to God and give Him your worries.
Conferring confidence invites your husband to romance.

Could your love-life benefit from showers of confidence? 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Trust Leads to Romance

 

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Trust Leads to Romance

What stirs the embers of romance deep inside you?

· Loving Words

· Touch

· A Night Out?

Maybe you haven’t thought about romance lately because of busyness, fatigue, disillusionment, or hopelessness.

I’ve been there too.


But romance with the man you love may not be as elusive as you might think.

Though we all desire romance—every woman longs to be

noticed, pursued, and adored—few of us realize that…

our words and actions may serve as stumbling blocks rather than invitations for the man in our life to woo us romantically.

If this is true, then we’re sabotaging the very romance we desire. Reminds me of the saying,

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

Do you like what you’re experiencing in regard to romance?

If not, ask yourself if you’re more likely to trust OR control your husband.

You’ve seen the controlling type.
Most women on TV sitcoms struggle with control. They walk all over the men they’re with and it bothers us.

It’s easy to detect control in others, but are you guilty of similar actions?

Let’s look deeper and find out.

1. Do you correct your husband?

2. Do you instruct your husband?

3. Do you improve your husband?

Do you correct your husband’s pronunciation or perhaps the

telling of a story when you know he’s got the facts mixed up?


When you correct your husband you’re telling him he did something wrong.

In this position you’ve become his mother. And that’s a romance killer if there ever was one.

Do you instruct your husband when he drives, performs

tasks, or helps out with the kids?


When you instruct your husband, you’re sending the message, “You don’t know how to do this.”

In this position you become the teacher who highlighted his ineptitude. Exposed, he’ll either shrink or strike back, rather than pursue.

Do you improve your husband?

In the past, I’ve tried to improve Tom’s appearance whenever possible. Once, when dressing for dinner at an elegant restaurant on vacation, I wore a vintage cashmere jacket with pearls and heels while Tom wore an improbable, wrinkled ensemble worthy of an episode of What Not to Wear. Yet, I didn’t say a word! (Some of you may be appreciating the restraint that required!) If I’d shared my fashion-improvement advice with him, I would have sent the romance-spoiling message, “You could have done better.”

In what areas do you try to improve your husband?

When we correct, instruct, and improve, we justify our actions by saying we’re just trying to help when, in reality, the measures we employ have more to do with fear—the fear that we won’t get what we want or we’ll get it too late.

Whenever our actions are borne of fear, the results we experience will be disappointing at best!

Give your fears to God and trust your husband with new words and actions…

Inviting him to romance.

Pick up  The Beautiful Wife.

Tammy♥

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Beautiful Wife and Kindle Fire Giveaway!

Want a Growing Marriage?


My husband and I were reading a financial book about how to make your money grow when one of the principles jumped off the page at me:

What you focus on grows. 

Because it’s such a simple principle, I couldn’t get it out of my mind and began applying it to all areas of life, especially relationships.

Most women have the desire to grow a more intimate relationship with their husband

yet  few  focus  their  desire  long  enough  to  do  anything  about  it.
Thus, nothing changes. 

  • Ignorance, 
  • Distractions, and/or
  • hopelessness are often to blame.

I should know. Just 19 when I said, “I do”, I was ignorant about how to grow my marriage.  Our pre-marriage counseling consisted of one two-hour meeting with my pastor and that wasn’t enough to prepare me for the emotional, spiritual, and verbal abuse my husband doled out on a regular basis.   The abuse produced pain and grief.
I could think of little else than surviving. 

Hope for our future crumbled.

Over time, I began sharing my pain with a few trusted, godly women.  Venting my pain and hearing their honest feed-back helped me see that the abuse I was suffering wasn’t my fault. 

I  began seeing a Christian counselor who gave me tools that helped restore me to a place of strength and dignity. 

The best choice I made was to dig into God’s word and find out what He wanted to say to me about my marriage.  In the Bible I found the following verses which applied to my situation:

· “…Your godly lives will speak to them [husbands] better than any words.  They will be won over by watching your pure godly behavior.” (I Peter 3:1,2) In place of preaching to my husband, I began entrusting my difficult situation to God through prayer—listening for His instruction.

· Instead, we will hold to the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:15) I began to exchange preaching for speaking the truth in love—in as few words as possible.

· “See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good…” (I Thessalonians 5:15) On my new path, I chose to respond in kindness and enforce healthy boundaries in place of angry retaliation.

When I dug into the word, I learned that my husband wasn’t the only one sinning.  My responses to Tom were often sinful and my response was the only thing I was responsible for. 
(
What I wanted was to change my husband but I couldn’t find a biblical reference to support my desire and neither will you)!  

Focused on God and His Word, I was able to reverse negative behavioral patterns in my life which had long plagued me

When I did what I could do—keeping my focus on God, HE DID WHAT I COULD NOT!

He healed me and ultimately my marriage—to the praise of His glorious grace!

What you focus on grows.

Are you focused on growing your marriage?

Study Guide:

I received an advanced copy of The Beautiful Wife study, Mentor's Guide and the Prayer Journal from Litfuse Publicity and I must confess that I was extremely excited to begin reading this study and coordinating a small study group with like minded friends. But as I began reading the study, I was getting the impression that this was written for either young newly married women, engaged women or for women who are new believers. The book is well organized and written and there were a few topics that I hadn’t really focused on in my marriage before but I do believe that this study guide is for the younger about to or newly married believing wife; I think it would make for a wonderful young women’s group study at church or small group home study. I think it would be beneficial to have an older woman guide the study as well.

Mentor’s Guide:

I opted not to put together a study group only because I know very few young women at this time in my life. However, The Mentor’s guide is extremely well written and has an abundance of encouraging support along with small group instructions, hosting tips, leader material and week-by-week guidance. This is a tool I will be using in future groups.

Prayer Journal:

I found the prayer journal to be one of the better prayer journals I’ve seen in many years if not the best one I’ve seen ever! There is an introduction and a How-to guide. And then each week begins with a prayer, reflection on the prayer, a section to write prayer request and for answered prayers. A verse to memorize and a place to journal your response and some follow up or relating verses where you can also write responses to those verses.But the portion that is my favorite is the section where you list God’s attributes using scripture. If you love to journal like I do, this prayer journal is a must have.

Blog Tour Schedule

The Beautiful Wife

About the book:

The Beautiful Wife uses these inspiring stories along with biblical principles to guide and encourage any wife looking for God's best in her marriage. The Beautiful Wife answers serious questions women have about their roles as wives. Discussing everything from romance and money to beauty, communication, and sex, Sandy challenges women to open up and share their journeys so that together they can see God's plan for their marriages. "It is my passion to help women discover God's heart for their marriage, just as the other women helped me," writes Sandy. "When women share with each other the details of their journeys with God as wives, it's a beautiful thing indeed." The Beautiful Wife has two companion resources - Prayer Journal and Mentor's Guide.

 

 

Sandy Ralya

About Sandy Ralya:

Sandy Ralya is the founder and director of Beautiful Womanhood, a marriage mentoring ministry based near Grand Rapids, Mich. Her marriage testimony was the focus of a popular three-day interview on FamilyLife Today, TV's Walking by Faith, and Time Out for Women. Sandy is a sought-after speaker, presenting Beautiful Womanhood seminars to hundreds of women each year at MOPS groups, women's retreats, and church leadership conferences across the country and in Canada. Sandy and her husband Tom have been married since 1980, and have a growing number of grandchildren. www.beautifulwomanhood.com

Celebrate with Sandy by entering her Kindle Touch Giveaway and coming to her "Beautiful Womanhood" Facebook Party {3/8}!

One beautiful winner will receive:

  • A Brand new Kindle Touch with Wi-Fi
  • The Beautiful Wife By Sandy Ralya
  • The Beautiful Wife Prayer Journal and Mentor's Guide

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 3/7/12. Winner will be announced at Sandy's "Beautiful Womanhood" Facebook Party on 3/8. Sandy will be hosting an evening of chat, laughter and encouragement - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, prayer journals and a live chat with Sandy for your Bible study or small group!

So grab your copy of The Beautiful Wife and join Sandy and friends on the evening of March 8th for an evening of fun.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on March 8th!

Tammy♥

**DISCLAIMER**  I received a copy of this book(s) for free in exchange for my completely honest opinion.

 

 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mornings with Jesus 2012 Daily Encouragement for your Soul

 

mornings-with-jesus-3d

 

About the book:

"Be still and know that I am God.” is one of the most beautiful verses from the Bible, but it’s not easy to practice in this busy world. Mornings with Jesus will help you do just that—“be still” in Jesus’ beautiful and powerful presence. For those who are seeking a deeper experience in their relationship with Christ, Mornings with Jesus offers a fresh perspective of who Jesus is (the Healer, the Son of God, the Comforter, the Good Shepherd) and what that means for day-to-day life. With a warm and friendly voice, 365 short devotional writings on the character and teachings of Jesus encourage readers to greet each day by drawing near to Him and inviting His presence into their day. Spend time with Jesus at the beginning of each day and experience His nearness and peace in a new way throughout the year. Each day’s selection includes: • a Bible verse • an entry based on Jesus: His words, miracles, and parables; His wisdom, compassion, and comfort; His mystery, power, divinity, and humanity • a “faith step” that will inspire and challenge readers to apply the day’s message to their lives.

My Review and Giveaway

I love reading, I read daily, sometimes several times a day! I read almost exclusively Christian books. Some will probably think that I am narrow minded but that is not why I read mostly Christian books. Growing up I read all sorts of books and loved most of them. I just enjoy reading Christian material, it’s soothing to me. I was not raised in the Lord, in fact I wasn’t saved until the very day of 9/11! That is when I gave my life to Jesus. And since that day, I can’t get enough truth, encouragement, comfort and inspiration through Christian reading.

I couldn’t wait for my copy of Mornings with Jesus to arrive and when it got here, I opened it immediately and began reading it! With every daily devotion I am blessed, encouraged and inspired. Each devotional begins with a verse and a thought from one of the many writers who collaborated on this book. The last entry for each day is a “Faith Step”, a suggestion from the writer to do something new or add to your daily walk in life.

One of the devotions I have read continues to speak to me on a daily basis, Tricia Goyer was speaking about a how she when she was growing up how she had won a prize in Vacation Bible School for memorizing the books of the Bible, how she had won a prize for selling the most Girl Scout cookies, rewards for her efforts, She goes on to say that she has found it hard not to think about rewards for her efforts in her ministry. And finally she spoke of how she doesn’t receive certificates or trinkets  as she serves the Lord but that eternal inheritance is her reward, as it is! That particular devotion spoke loudly to me as I read it because her former feelings were my feelings exactly!! That one devotion began a transformation in me; I am not working for myself, I am working for the Lord, not for myself; how arrogant I was! My reward is He who shines through me to the people I come in contact with and whom I try to help, mentor or give to!! So, thank you Tricia for the Lord leading you to write that devotion. I now do everything in the spirit of His eternal inheritance.

I could go on and on about how these devotions are spiritually lifting me and encouraging me with each passing day to not only enjoy my time with Jesus and God’s word, but to really make changes in my daily walk during my time on earth. All of these writers have so many stories to help us realize the areas of our walk that can be enhanced and/or changed. I will cherish this devotional for years to come. And although it is for 2012, I will be coming back to this year after year.

To read more reviews on Mornings with Jesus, you can go here to The Litfuse Group. There you will find many more reviews.

If you would like to get your own copy of Mornings with Jesus, you can pick a copy up here.

Now for the giveaway! I am giving away one copy of Mornings with Jesus. Leave a comment below and share this post on Facebook and Twitter. Each action will earn you 1 entry for a total of 3 entries. Come back and tell me where you have shared this review and you will get an extra entry in the drawing which will be held on February 24th.

Tammy♥

 

**DISCLAIMER** I have received this free copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

FOUR LETTER WORDS By Bill Giovannetti

 

FLW cover

About Four Letter Words:

Thou shalt tolerate every opinion... except the Christian's. Today's postmodern "prime directive" leaves many followers of Jesus tongue-tied. In the global village, isn't it unreasonable, and even dangerous, to suggest that the Bible has a monopoly on truth?

The church needs a new breed of Christ-follower. We need Christ-followers who are alert to today's touchy ideas, the truths that fire up more heat than light. We need Christ-followers who can make a clear case for the Bible's worldview; who are ready to help our friends think through their beliefs; who can recognize inconsistencies and challenge them; and who can do all of this with humility, confidence, humor, and love. For more information visit http://fourletterwords.org and to purchase his book, Go HERE.

web_giovannetti_billsm

About Bill Giovannetti:

Dr. Bill Giovannetti is a professor at A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary and the senior pastor of Neighborhood Church of Redding. An experienced speaker and author, Bill informs the mind in ways that touch the heart. He enjoys life with his wife and two kids in northern California. For more information about Bill and his other books, visit http://maxgrace.wordpress.com and http://fourletterwords.org.

Giveaway!!

Bill is celebrating the new Kindle edition of Four Letter Words (for only $4.99)! He’ll be traveling coast to coast over the next few weeks on this virtual book tour and he's celebrating by hosting a great giveaway!

Click here (http://fourletterwords.org/2012/01/contest-giveaway) to find out how you can win two gift certificates to Amazon (in the amount of $50 and $25) and free downloads of his yet-to-be-released title, Recession-Proof: Living a God-Blessed Life in a Messed Up World.

The whole scoop here: http://fourletterwords.org/2012/01/contest-giveaway/

My Review

When I first saw the title of this book, it peeked my curiosity so I requested a copy to review from Litfuse Publicity. I must say, I was quite surprised how much thought and care Bill Giovannetti took in writing this very much needed book on how we as believers can speak up and stand firm in our faith without offending the people we talk to about our faith. His approach on the issues of today and today’s culture are direct but yet respectful and to the heart. Four Letter Words jam packed with the information we need to help us stand firm in our faith and it is an excellent resource for preparing our sons and daughters for the world. It would also make for a great resource for bible study. I encourage everyone, Christian or not who has ever wondered what and why they believe the way they do to pick up a copy. Take time to and care in reading this, you will get more out of it and you’ll be glad you did!

Tammy

Blog Tour Schedule

**Disclaimer** I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest written opinion.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nearing Home by Billy Graham

Nearing Home
Book Description

“I never thought I would live to be this old.”

In this moving narrative, Billy Graham once again takes up the pen not only to share his personal experience of growing older but also teach us some important lessons on how to view our time here on Earth. He says that the Bible makes it clear that God has a specific reason for keeping us here. So what is His purpose for these years, and how can we align our lives with it? How can we not only learn to cope with the fears and struggles and growing limitations we face but actually grow stronger inwardly in the midst of these difficulties?

In what may be his most powerful message of the last decade, Billy Graham speaks to all on this side of Heaven as he covers the importance of four key areas:

Building strong foundations and understanding the gift of years

Facing life’s transitions, including the passing of years, retirement, and when loved ones die

Making wise decisions

Understanding our glorious hope

“In this book I invite you to explore with me not only the realities of life as we grow older but the hope and fulfillment and even joy that can be ours once we learn to look at these years from God’s point of view and discover His strength to sustain us every day. I pray that you and I may learn what it means not only to grow older, but, with God’s help, to grow older with grace.”

My Review

Billy Graham has been given the gift power, the power of words from Almighty God himself. His messages are so powerful and thought provoking in which you have to sit back and  pause, reflect and ponder what he is telling you. As I read his book Nearing Home, I couldn’t help but stop and think about my life’s past, present and future. As I reflected on my past, I remembered things I thought I had forgotten or so I thought and I had to ask God for forgiveness in the things I had said or that I had done in my youth. Some of it was very painful so much so, I had to put his book down and go back to it later. The Lord through him has made me realize some things I need to work on now, presently. And the things I need to begin getting in order now so that my children won’t have to deal with them when I am gone.

Nearing Home is a wonderfully warm and informational read and I recommend it highly! This glimpse into growing old will help everyone who reads it, some of “what to expect” as we grow old. I hope you will pick up a copy and that you enjoy it as much as I have.

** DISCLAIMER** I have received this copy free in exchange for my honest opinion.