Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tour Today - BIG ANNOUNCEMENT Tomorrow!

The "Your Choice" contest ends in two days - be sure to get your entry in by Friday!

Tomorrow, Thursday, May 1, Pix-N-Pens will be announcing our BIGGEST, BOLDEST, WACKIEST contest EVER - so come back in the morning and help us spread the word!

This week, the

is introducing

(NavPress Publishing Group April 15, 2008)



Sometimes there’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy—and Katie Parker is walking it.

School is winding down for the summer but Katie Parker is having a bad day. After leaving the drive-in, where her imploding love life was the main attraction, Katie arrives home to a big surprise on the Scott's front porch. Her mother, Bobbie Ann Parker, a former convict and recovering addict, wants to take Katie away from her family, friends, and church. Now Katie's life will be changed by a series of dramatic choices as she struggles to understand what family and home really means.

Katie is forced to walk away from In Between, leaving behind a family who loves her, a town drive-in to save, and a boyfriend who suddenly can’t take his eyes off his ex. When the life her mother promised begins to sink faster than one of Maxine’s stuffed bras, Katie knows she needs to rely on God to keep it together. But where is he in all this? Can Katie survive a chaotic life with her mother—and one without the Scotts? And if God is there, will he come through before it’s too late?

A Katie Parker Production series offers teen girls real-world fiction balanced by hope and humor. The The Big Picture helps us realize that the difficult chapters in our journey are only part of God's big story for our lives.You can read the first chapter HERE.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Entry: Check out this Puppy Love!

Puppy Love
by Debbie Roome

Meet Nelson and Sparkles - Nelson is just over 2 years old and Sparkles is almost 3 months. They get along very well and I love them to bits.

Submitted by

Debbie Roome

Thursday, April 24, 2008

We Interrupt This Contest...

"Your Choice" contest is still in progress - get your entry to me soon for your chance to win! (details in previous post.)

For now - check out this latest release. It's a great one to put on your reading list:

This week, the

is introducing

(Bethany House April 1, 2008)



Athol Dickson's university-level training in painting, sculpture, and architecture was followed by a long career as an architect then his decision several years ago to devote full time to writing.
Athol Dickson’s writing has been favorably compared to the work of Octavia Butler(Publisher’s Weekly), Daphne du Maurier (Cindy Crosby, and FlanneryO’Connor (The New York Times).

His They Shall See God was a Christy Award finalist and his River Rising was a Christy Award winner, selected as one of the Booklist Top Ten Christian Novels of 2006 and a finalist for Christianity Today's Best Novel of 2006.

He and his wife, Sue, live in Southern California. Visit for more information.

Boys who never age, giants lost in time, mist that never rises, questions never asked...on the most remote of islands off the coast of Maine, history haunts the present and Vera Gamble wrestles with a past that will not yield. Will she find refuge there, or will her ghosts prevail on...Winter Haven

Eleven years ago, Vera Gamble's brother left their house never to be seen again. Until the day Vera gets a phone call that his body has been found...washed ashore in the tiny island town of Winter Haven, Maine. His only surviving kin, Vera travels north to claim the body...and finds herself tumbling into a tangled mystery. Her brother hasn't aged a day since last she saw him.

Determined to uncover what happened in those lost years, Vera soon discovers there are other secrets lurking in this isolated town. But Winter Haven's murky past now seems bound to come to light as one woman seeks the undeniable and flooding light of truth.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New "Your Choice" Contest

Gosh - I let Monday slip by completely without announcing the new contest - I'm so sorry!

This will be another 2-week contest, and this time YOU get to choose the type of entry! You can submit any type of writing (short story, scene, poem, article, essay, song, etc.) up to 2500 words or up to 3 photos. You choose the theme for your piece, and the title. Be sure to include both when you submit your entry to me at tracyruckman [at] gmail [dot] com by Friday, May 2nd. Judging criteria will be looking for THE BEST.

If chosen as the Winner, you will receive a FREE CRITIQUE or A BOOK: critique of ONE chapter (up to 3000 words) OR of a 2-3 page synopsis of your current work in progress, or a book of my choice from my current stack of new releases.

Polish up those entries and start submitting.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

We Have Two Winners!

Since no one submitted a suspense entry for the contest this week, we drew two names from everyone leaving comments.

Grateful Gramma won Brandilyn Collins' Amber Morn


Lesha won Melanie Wells' My Soul to Keep

Congratulations, ladies!

More contests, book reviews, and giveaways coming up next week, so check back Monday for your chance to win!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Next Book Giveaway!

Happy Wednesday, Pixels! You've been awfully quiet this week - I keep watching for those suspense entries. Get them to me by this Friday for your chance to win Brandilyn's book, Amber Morn.

Now it's time to finally announce the OTHER suspense we're giving away this week - one winner will be randomly chosen from anyone leaving comments April 7th-18th to win Melanie Wells' latest release My Soul to Keep.

This book was definitely suspenseful - I loved it. It kept me on the edge of my chair from the first page to the last! If you read suspense, you gotta read this one! I first discovered Melanie's books in 2005 with her very first book - When the Day of Evil Comes - and I was hooked. I told someone last week that Frank Peretti fans would love this book - and this series.

Enough of my gushing. Here's all the official info:

This week, the

is introducing

(Multnomah Books - February 5, 2008)



A native of the Texas panhandle and the child of musicians, Melanie Wells attended Southern Methodist University on a music scholarship (she's a fiddle player), and later completed graduate degrees in counseling psychology and Biblical studies at Our Lady of the Lake University and Dallas Theological Seminary.

She has taught at the graduate level at both OLLU and DTS, and has been in private practice as a counselor since 1992. She is the founder and director of LifeWorks counseling associates in Dallas, Texas, a collaborative community of creative therapists.

When the Day of Evil Comes is her first published work of fiction, and the first of a three-book series. The second work, The Soul Hunter was released in May, 2006. Melanie lives and writes in Dallas.


As nasty as I knew Peter Terry to be, I never expected him to start kidnapping kids. Much less a sweet, funny little boy with nothing to protect him but a few knock-kneed women, two rabbits and a staple gun…

It’s psychology professor Dylan Foster’s favorite day of the academic year…graduation day. And her little friend Christine Zocci’s sixth birthday. But the joyful summer afternoon goes south when a little boy is snatched from a neighborhood park, setting off a chain of events that seen to lead nowhere.

The police are baffled, but Christine’s eerie connection with the kidnapped child sends Dylan on a chilling investigation of her own. Is the pasty, elusive stranger Peter Terry to blame? Exploding light bulbs, the deadly buzz of a Texas rattlesnake, and the vivid, disturbing dreams of a little girl are just pieces of a long trail of tantalizing clues leading Dylan in her dogged search for the truth.

“Like water rising to a boil, My soul To Keep’s suspense sneaks up on you…before you know it, you’re in the thick if a frightening drama…Superbly crafted.”---ROBERT LIPARULO, author of Deadfall, Germ, and Comes A Horseman

“Written with passion, a good dose of humor and, dare I say it, soul, this novel reminds us that we all, with grace and good fortune, bumble our way toward salvation.”---K. L. COOK, author of Late Call and The Girl From Charmelle

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Children Out of Control

Our suspense contest is still in progress, but I want to share a special interview with you and encourage us all to start a dialogue about this issue, so very dear to my heart.

The conversation centers around a book I received the week prior to Easter. The week started out extremely difficult because of an ongoing argument with my 19 year-old son, who had come back home to live with us last summer. The blow-up was tremendous, and I asked him to leave. He refused.

By that Thursday, I was on page 66 of Allison Bottke's new book Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children. Then Good Friday came. My son went to work, and I paid a visit to the guest house on our property where he lived. What I found there broke rules I had set down upon his arrival, and went against my core beliefs. Only then was I able to face reality and with the help of my precious husband, packed up my son's belongings, and put them outside our property, and locked our gate, so he could not come in again. I left him a note, explaining our actions, and letting him know this was HIS fault for breaking our rules (and the law) and that until he got his life straightened out, he was not welcome in our home, on our property, or in our lives.

Pixels, it was one of the most difficult decisions of my life.

(update: Last night, he called for the second time. He's living in his car, checking into a cheap motel once a week to bathe, and eating sporadically. He managed to hang onto his job, but he has dropped out of college. Yet he continues to deny he's done anything wrong.)

Late that night - on Good Friday - I picked up Allison's book where I left off - page 66 - and these were the first words I read:

When we make the decision to release our adult children to fend for themselves, it can be both freeing and frightening. For many of us, this sudden freedom to live our own lives will seem like a breath of fresh air.

This book continues to speak to me, to minister to me, to encourage me, to strengthen me. This book is necessary for any parent of any age child - it will inform, educate, and enlighten you.

Now I want to share an interview with Allison, so you can learn even more about her book and her ministry, and how YOU can get help, too.

The book comes out of your own personal experience with your son. Please tell us about that.

ALLISON: For years I really thought I was helping my son. I wanted him to have the things I never had growing up. I love my son, and I didn’t want him to hurt—but sometimes pain is a natural result of the choices we make. For a long time I didn’t understand the part I was playing in the ongoing drama that had become my son’s life—I didn’t understand that I didn’t have to live in constant chaos and crisis because of his choices. When I chose to stop the insanity and start living a life of hope and healing my life changed. It’s a feeling I want other struggling parents and grandparents to experience. I want other parents to know that change is possible when we choose to stop the destructive cycle of enabling. And we can stop it. I know, because I’ve done it.

Why do you think so many parents struggle with enabling their adult children?

ALLISON: We don’t understand the difference between helping and enabling, that one heals and the other hurts. We don’t realize that we handicap our adult children when we don’t allow them to experience the consequences of their actions.

How can we determine whether we are helping versus enabling our children?

ALLISON: Helping is doing something for someone that he is not capable of doing himself.

Enabling is doing for someone things that he could and should be doing himself.

An enabler is a person who recognizes that a negative circumstance is occurring on a regular basis and yet continues to enable the person with the problem to persist with his detrimental behaviors. Simply, enabling creates an atmosphere in which our adult children can comfortably continue their unacceptable behavior.

Tell us about the S.A.N.I.T.Y. Support Group Network you founded. How can people get involved?

ALLISON: The “A” step in S.A.N.I.T.Y. is to ASSEMBLE a support group. This is a vital component in being able to look at our situations more objectively. We have developed a powerful Companion Study Guide that can be read individually or in a group setting. This Companion Study Guide contains all the information you need to conduct a S.A.N.I.T.Y. Support group in your neighborhood or community. Visit our web site here to find out more.

The S.A.N.I.T.Y. Support Group Network is a powerful resource to help parents and grandparents who have challenging adult children gain S.A.N.I.T.Y. in a world spinning out of control. During the years I spent as an enabling parent there were no support groups available for me as a parent in pain. Although it’s a tremendously successful program, AA wasn’t quite right for me, and I attended a few Alanon meetings, but the kind of empowering strength I needed for my situation wasn’t available. I needed to hear from others who had walked in my shoes—I needed to hear what they were doing that worked. I needed people around me who would lovingly hold me accountable to my own choices as I experienced the journey of parenting and enabling a dysfunctional adult child. I needed an action plan to help me make changes in my life.

I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt as I was writing Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Child that a vital part of the outreach would be the development of an international support group network based on the six S.A.N.I.T.Y. steps I had developed.

We need a resource that can help us to set appropriate boundaries and get some S.A.N.I.TY. in our households, as well as assuring us that we are walking in God’s will. Following the steps outlined in Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Child is a start in addressing this issue. Attending, and/or facilitating a S.A.N.I.T.Y. Support Group in your community is the next vital step in gaining hope as you walk the often painful path to healing.

You say that enabling our children is “a nationwide epidemic with catastrophic consequences.” What has led you to believe this?

ALLISON: There is clearly an epidemic of major proportion plaguing our nation today. This has become obvious to me as I travel the country sharing my God Allows U-Turns testimony and outreach. Seldom does a week go by when I am not approached by someone in deep pain concerning their adult child. It’s not just audience members in conflict with this troubling issue, but fellow authors, speakers and entertainers, some quite well known, who are living in the throes of familial discord concerning out-of-control adult children. It’s happening all over the country to people from all walks of life.

Where can my readers go for more information on your book and on the S.A.N.I.T.Y. ministry?

ALLISON: Everything you could possibly need is contained on our web site.

ALLISON: I encourage your readers to tell me what they think about Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children. I really do want to hear reader feedback. They can reach me at:

Please be sure to visit our web site at where they will find additional resources for helping them on their road to S.A.N.I.T.Y. Remember to tell a friend in need and help save a life!

On Enabling…

As long as we continue to keep enabling our adult children, they will continue to deny they have any problems, since most of their problems are being “solved” by those around him. Only when our adult children are forced to face the consequences of their own actions—their own choices—will it finally begin to sink in how deep their patterns of dependence and avoidance have become. And only then will we as parents be able to take the next step to real healing, forever ending our enabling habits and behaviors. (pg. 33)

Many of our adult children have retreated from the trials and tribulations that not only test their faith but would also stretch them in ways that would develop their character, prove their mettle, and give them a sense of achievement. Consequently, many adult children have no idea what they’re truly capable of accomplishing. They’ve never really tried to move ahead with confidence and be all they can be. (pg. 35)

On Letting Go…

It’s a natural instinct to protect those we love, to help someone when he’s down, to offer assistance during times of tribulation. Yet for some adult children, “tribulation” is their middle name. When is enough enough? Our adult children are no longer babies, toddlers, or adolescents. We must stop treating them as such. Gone are the years of trying to mold their character. Unless they decide to change as a result of changes we make (if we truly want this to stop), what we see is what we get, as the saying goes. (pg. 43)

Setting our adult children free to live the lives God intended them to live is not abandonment—even if it means setting them free during a time of severe trial and tribulation in their lives. (pg. 57)

Our money must cease being the life preservers that buoy up our adult children, keeping them afloat through yet another storm. We might be amazed at just how well our adult children can swim when giving the opportunity to do so. More important, they just might be surprised at their own ability to survive without life support, a powerful lesson that no amount of money can purchase. (pg. 107)

On Healing and Restoration…

We do not parent as those who have no hope. We have a God who watches over our children—if we’ll just get out of His way and let Him do the restoring. Restoration is such a promising word to parents in pain. But to get to restoration, we must start with the truth of where we are. We must be honest. The truth is that those once-innocent children grew into the jaded and unmotivated adults they are today under our parental watch. And now we find that one huge step in the restoration process is to honestly see our adult children for who they really are now, not as we remember them in their Kodak moments. (pg. 72)

Real healing begins when a parent stops believing the excuses and lies and insists on the truth. As we develop our action plan, there must be no room for excuses. Our boundaries must be firm. There is a right and there is a wrong, and we are going to choose to do what’s right. Period. (pg. 118)

Healing often comes through pain first. Physical therapy is painful, but it’s always conducted for our own good. So too are God’s plans always meant for our good—even when we can’t understand them. (pg. 172)

We should never give up hope that our adult children will find a way out of the dark abyss of addiction. We should never stop encouraging them, emotionally supporting them, and loving them. And we should never stop praying for them. Miracles happen every day, and God will make a way where there seems to be no way. (pg. 189)

On Listening…

As parents in pain, we’ve been living in places of weakness for a very long time, but we haven’t done the kind of listening that has brought us closer to God—or to any firm results in the challenges of our lives. We have become emotional repositories for everyone else’s problems, and the time has come for that to stop. (pg. 132)

Rarely in our prayers do we think about listening to God or about implementing the biblical principles that will bring stability to our lives. Instead, we fall back on bargaining. But I’ve discovered that listening to what God teaches us in His Word about all things—parenting included—should be the number-one goal in the life of every Christian. Too often we listen instead to worldly advice, to secular self-help gurus, and to the never-ending stream of trendy cultural messages designed to fix whatever ails us. Ironically, those were often the very sources of “wisdom” that either caused us to make parenting mistakes or caused our children to succumb to temptations that led them into their destructive lifestyles. (pg. 144)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

One of the Most Beautiful Books Ever

As we wait for the suspense entries to start rolling in, I'll post another book review. This one, Trouble the Water by Nicole Seitz, is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. Nicole has created memorable, deep characters in a rich, unique setting. The book is filled with humor, and hope, love, pain and sadness - I think I felt every emotion possible as I read this book. It's truly one you don't want to miss, and it has put Nicole into one of my "top ten" author spots.

I think I also read somewhere this week that Nicole actually painted the cover for this book (and some of her others.) I'll check around to make sure that's the case, and if Nicole happens to drop by, maybe she'll set the record straight. The painting, gorgeous in its own right, is only a fraction of the beauty found within the book. Check it out.

This week, the

is introducing

Thomas Nelson (March 11, 2008)



Nicole Seitz is a South Carolina Lowcountry native and the author of The Spirit of Sweetgrass as well as a freelance writer/illustrator who has published in numerous low country magazines. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism, she also has a bachelor's degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design. Nicole shows her paintings in the Charleston, South Carolina area, where she owns a web design firm and lives with her husband and two small children. Nicole is also an avid blogger, you can leave her a comment on her blog.

Seitz's writing style recalls that of Southern authors like Kaye Gibbons, Anne Rivers Siddons, and Sue Monk Kidd, and this new novel, which the publisher compares to Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, surely joins the ranks of strong fiction that highlights the complicated relationships between women. Highly recommended, especially for Southern libraries.


In the South Carolina Sea Islands lush setting, Nicole Seitz's second novel Trouble the Water is a poignant novel about two middle-aged sisters' journey to self-discovery.

One is seeking to recreate her life yet again and learns to truly live from a group of Gullah nannies she meets on the island. The other thinks she's got it all together until her sister's imminent death from cancer causes her to re-examine her own life and seek the healing and rebirth her troubled sister managed to find on St. Anne's Island.

Strong female protagonists are forced to deal with suicide, wife abuse, cancer, and grief in a realistic way that will ring true for anyone who has ever suffered great loss.

"This is another thing I know for a fact: a woman can't be an island, not really. No, it's the touching we do in other people's lives that matters when all is said and done. The silly things we do for ourselves--shiny new cars and jobs and money--they don't mean a hill of beans. Honor taught me that. My soul sisters on this island taught me that. And this is the story of true sisterhood. It's the story of Honor, come and gone, and how one flawed woman worked miracles in this mixed-up world."

"...a special sisterhood of island women whose wisdom and courage linger in the mind long after the book is closed."-NEW YORK TIMES best-selling author SUSAN WIGGS

Monday, April 7, 2008

New Contest Theme: Suspense

Pixels, this will be a 2-week contest, so get your entries in to me by next Friday, April 18th, for your chance to win. I'll post the entries as they come in.

Submit a suspenseful scene, up to 1800 words, any genre. Not a short story - just a scene. As always, your entry must not be published or contracted, and it must be your own work. Email your entry to me at tracyruckman [at] before the 18th. Other rules are spelled out in the sidebar to the right.

The winner will receive a copy of Brandilyn Collins' latest release, Amber Morn - reviewed in the previous post!

I'll also be giving away another suspense novel - title to be announced next week - in a random drawing from anyone leaving comments April 7-18th. Feel free to leave comments on entries, or answer one or more of the following questions: Who is your favorite suspense author of all time? Favorite mystery writer?

Amber Morn

Happy Monday, Pixels! We've got a busy week in store!

First up, a review of Brandilyn Collins' latest release Amber Morn. It's a page-turner you don't want to miss! I'll be giving away a copy for this week's contest, so stay tuned!

This week, the

is introducing

(Zondervan Publishing Company - April 2008)


Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline

“Don’t forget to b r e a t h e …®”

Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 19th book. Her first, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows.

She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences.

Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith. Visit her Website to read the first chapters of all her books.


The whole thing couldn’t have taken more than sixty seconds.

Bailey hung on to the counter, dazed. If she let go, she’d collapse—and the twitching fingers of the gunman would pull the trigger. The rest of her group huddled in frozen shock.

Dear God, help us! Tell me this is a dream . . .

The shooter’s teeth clenched. “ Anybody who moves is dead.”

On a beautiful Saturday morning the nationally read “Scenes and Beans” bloggers gather at Java Joint for a special celebration. Chaos erupts when three gunmen burst in and take them all hostage. One person is shot and dumped outside.

Police Chief Vince Edwards must negotiate with the desperate trio. The gunmen insist on communicating through the “comments” section of the blog—so all the world can hear their story. What they demand, Vince can’t possibly provide. But if he doesn’t, over a dozen beloved Kanner Lake citizens will die...

Amber Morn is the climactic finale to Collins’ widely read Kanner Lake series. All first three titles in the series, Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, and Crimson Eve, were bestsellers. Library Journal placed Crimson Eve on its Best Books of 2007 list, and hailed it the “Best Christian suspense of 2007.”

A few early reviews of Amber Morn:

“… essential reading … a harrowing hostage drama.” – Library Journal

“… heart-pounding … breakneck pace … satisfying and meaningful ending.” – RT Bookreviews

“This cataclysmic ending left me breathless … Kanner Lake is the Best Suspense Series of 2007/2008.” –

“Collins has saved the best for a last .. a powerful ensemble performance.” --

“… a staccato tempo … Sometimes you just have to close the book in order to come up for air.” – Dale Lewis

“…a masterpiece of page-turning suspense with a cast of dozens.” – Peg Phifer

Saturday, April 5, 2008

We have a Winner!

Congratulations to KATHLEEN WILLIAMS, this week's winner of Delia Latham's Goldeneyes!

Kathleen shares a little about herself:

"I was born and raised in a small town in Texas. I met my husband in high school and we have been married for 35 years. We have five sons, John, Mike, T.C., Joshua, and Quentin. We have five grand sons and one grand son due in August. We also have one step grand daughter and two step grand sons. And of course we have 4 beautiful daughter-in-laws. We are very blessed.

My husband and I are ministers. We are the founders of Lion of Judah full Gospel fellowship. Most of our ministry is on the internet right now. God has done so many things in our lives.

I have written a book, titled And God Said - it's available through Lulu.

You can also find me on myspace."

Congratulations, Kathleen - thank you for sharing your story.

Thanks to all the participants - this week was a special, touching week and a tremendous reminder of God's love for each and every one of us. May God continue to use each of you for His glory.

Delia, we so appreciate you being here with us this week, for participating and sharing your time. May God bless your writing and your ministry and your family.

Pixels, a new contest will be announced Monday, and we have some great book reviews all week, so gather all your friends and meet us here then!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Entry: An Ordinary Morning

An Ordinary Morning
By Debbie Roome

It was an ordinary morning. I’d risen at dawn and our garden and swimming pool were wreathed in ribbons of mist. Somewhere down the road, a rooster was crowing and the sounds of traffic hummed on the nearby highway. I was living in South Africa at the time and owned a toy shop in a mall close to home. Through persistence and perseverance I had forged links with the management of a large chain of toy/baby shops in South Africa - including the Toys-R-Us brand - and on this day I had an appointment with their CEO. Their offices were in the industrial area of Durban – about an hour from where I lived - and I travelled down there every couple of weeks. It was an arrangement that suited us both as I would purchase their samples, shop soiled goods and end of lines that they were clearing out.

I needed to leave home by 8am to make my 9 O’clock appointment and to begin with, all went well. I organized lunches for my five children and got them off to school; I fed the dogs and cats and took out some meat to defrost for dinner that night. I was almost ready to leave when the phone rang; a customer asking about a particular toy. Precious minutes ticked past and soon it was nearly 8 O’clock. To my immense annoyance, the phone rang again as soon as I replaced the receiver.

Five minutes later, I was ready to go but the keys to my van had disappeared. My mood deteriorated as I rushed through the house, muttering and complaining as I pulled aside cushions, looked under beds and emptied out my purse. I can’t remember where I found them but know I was angry and frustrated as I finally twisted the key in the ignition. Then I noticed I was almost out of gas. How could I have forgotten to fill up the night before?

It was 8:20 by the time I left town and hurtled down the highway trying to make up the lost minutes. My van was old but we kept it as it was ideal for carrying stock. Unfortunately, it had done a high mileage and had been giving endless problems. My husband, Kevin, prayed every time I took it down to Durban and called often to ensure that all was well. His concern was understandable as the road was dangerous and trucks and cars blatantly disregarded the speed limit. It was also a hotbed of criminal activity - hijackings were common and if your vehicle broke down, you were a sitting target for criminals who would rob you of your mobile phone, cash and cards, jewelry and would often injure you in the process. Neither of us were happy about the situation but at that stage, we had little choice.

I was praying as I hurried down the road, but they weren’t prayers of praise and thankfulness. Instead I was grumbling at God. “Why did you let those people call? Why did you let my keys disappear? Why didn’t you remind me about the gas last night? Don’t you know I can’t afford to be late for this appointment?” Outside, the scenery rushed past in a blur. Much of the mist had dissipated under fiery sun rays and hills rolled to the horizon, yellow and dry. In places, amber flames flickered in the distance and the sweet smell of burnt grass filled the van.

About twenty minutes after I left home, the mist began to thicken again. I was approaching a small town by the name of Cato Ridge which is notorious for fog. I slowed down and as I turned a corner I was immersed in a thick rolling cloud. The cool grey mist was mixed with smoke and visibility was very poor; the sun was reduced to a pale suffusion of light.

I was driving carefully but even so I had to slam on brakes as figures appeared in the mist, waving their arms and gesturing that I should pull over. Before me was the scene of one of the worst multi-vehicle accidents the area had seen in years. Shrouded by mist, about twelve vehicles were sprawled across both sides of the highway. Some were crumpled, some had flipped onto their sides, a truck straddled the centre meridian and people sat on the grass, resting their heads on their arms. Behind me, the faint wail of sirens penetrated the gloom and I realised the pile-up had happened only a short while before.

It was a half hour before the police got the traffic moving again. In that half hour I watched and listened. I saw paramedics drifting like shadows between vehicles and saw people being lifted into ambulances. I heard the police saying it was a miracle that no one had been killed. I watched as the accident scene was photographed and marked out and then I worked out what time I would have passed through that section of road.

If I had left home when I wanted to, I would have been right in the middle of the pile-up. Suddenly those little annoyances were transformed into something completely different. An answer to Kevin’s prayers. The protection of a Loving Heavenly father. The mercy of God to one who didn’t deserve it. It was an awesome revelation and one that changed my perspective by 180 degrees.

I made the rest of the trip with a vastly different attitude; repentance, thankfulness and joy replaced grumpiness, agitation and anger. I felt deeply humbled yet also grateful that God loved me enough to bypass my tantrums. Not only that, I was able to reschedule my appointment for later in the morning and it actually suited them better as the CEO had been delayed in another meeting.

The lessons I learned that day have stayed with me over the years and although I still get flustered and annoyed, I have learned to relax and trust that God is involved in all that I do. Not every frustration is sent to protect me; more often they are sent to teach me patience, trust and tolerance. Being human, I still overreact sometimes but God is faithful and in moments of anger and annoyance, I feel His Spirit tap me on the shoulder. “Remember that day?” He whispers. “Look for me in mundane, the ordinary and the small. I am with you in each step of daily life.”

It was an ordinary morning but ended up as an extraordinary day.

Submitted by
Debbie Roome

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Entry: God Worked it All Out

God Worked it All Out
by Kathleen H. Williams

I had good parents. They always took very good care of us. We had a pretty good life, not much money or a lot of things that some people had but we enjoyed our life.

My parents were known to drink and go out dancing most every weekend but they didn't get a baby sitter, we went wherever they went and for the most part we enjoyed it. I loved music and loved to dance, I danced with my Dad and a very dear friend of ours and I loved every minute of it. Everything went smooth most of the time but there were those times when there would be strife between my parents and it would get ugly and very upsetting to me sometimes but we made it through it. My parents were divorced and remarried several times and one time my mother remarried and I had a step dad which did not work out and I won't go in to any of that.

But there were times when I really wanted our life to be different, more normal I guess and in my mid teenage years we did stay home more and they just drank at home and things were better unless they got into an argument. and then.........

I met my husband in high school and all I wanted was to get married and get away from home, like most kids do. In my junior year my husband and I got engaged and he graduated that year so we talked my parents in to letting us get married and we did. I didn't finish high school, which I still regret, but I had married the guy of my dreams, a good looking musician and what could be better than that since I loved music so much.

Things were pretty good after we got married. He played in a few bands and I enjoyed going to listen to them play, just sitting on the sideline so to speak, but then we had our first son John [then called John T] who also loved music and would sit on the table and play the drums with some drumsticks that the drummer in the band had given him, he was one year old or a little older.

Things were alright but I got tired of going with them and John and I would stay home a lot of the time. Then we had our second son Mike [then called Mikie] and when he was six weeks old I got cabin fever and decided to go to my moms and get her and my second step dad to go where Tommy and the band were playing for a dance.

We had as much fun as you could have with a bunch of drunken people, loud music and three very small children. When we left that night about 1am I was disgusted with the whole situation. We got in the car and headed for home and I just said out loud "this is it for me" and my mother asked me "what are you talking about" and I told her that that was not the life that I wanted for my kids and I would not be dragging them around to those places anymore. She said, "Well that is the way that you kids were raised and you all turned out alright."

I didn't say it out loud because I didn't want to get into an argument with her but I was thinking, yeah right, I have two older brothers who are on their way to being alcoholics, everybody is doing great. And besides that she said that Tommy would never give up playing music because it was in his blood.

But I made that decision that night and I didn't pray or anything really. I just made that decision and God worked it out. I did go with Tommy a few times after that but right after our third son T.C. was born our lives took a turn in a different direction. God worked it all out. He had a plan and it is still being played out.

I didn't want that lifestyle for my kids and I still don't and I hope that they don't want it for their kids. I am claiming Gods word for my children and my grand children. We have a come a long way and I never want to go back.

Submitted by
Kathleen H. Williams

Entry: Through the Tears

Through the Tears
by Tabitha Robin

Born in a small town called Turtle Town, Tennessee to a minister and his wife; however, I was raised in Danville Georgia. My mother and father raised me in The Church of God of Prophecy and I never missed one moment of church. This little church was based strictly on appearance and working your way to heaven. Stuck in this false doctrine, I struggled through my adolescence life. My parents as strict more strict than any other parent at that time, would not let me cut my hair, wear pants, go to the movies, listen to certain types of music, I could not even go spend the night with anyone. My parents thought I would go to Hell if I did these things.

I watched all my friends do interesting things. They would tell me of Six Flags, the fair and good movies that they had seen. I never got to go to any of these places for it would doom me to hell, or so I was taught.

I had also two younger sisters that also lived in this same strictness for their young lives. Don’t get me wrong we loved our parents but it was because they where so strict. They thought us that getting to heaven were about looks and works. I knew deep in my heart that there was something more, but I did not know what.

When I turned 16 years old I decided to get married to a man of the age of 18. I knew I was not in love with him but I wanted a way to escape this prison that I was in. I was looking for something to fill that void that was deep within my heart. None the less my parents allowed me to get married and move out. I quite school and thought I knew it all. But I found out really quick that life was not what I had thought it to be.

My husband, Larry, became abusive mentally and physically. He become controlling, not allowing me to see my family. I was scared of him, afraid to tell anyone what he was doing to me for fear of my life. I was lost in a dark loveless marriage. I carried the paint of black and blue bruises upon my skin, still longing for my void to be filled. I tried to have a child thinking that this would comfort this loneliness that resided deep inside of me.

I became pregnant in 1993. My husband at that time beat me severely because I had called him at work and asked if I could spend the day with my family. He would not take me to the doctor to get checked after I begin to bleed. I was getting weaker and weaker by the day. Finally I nearly died so he took me to the doctor. I was told that my baby was dead, I was four months along. They had to do an emergency DNC.

Living through 5 years of physical abuse, I became depressed. During those years I had that one miscarriage and two beautiful children. A Beautiful angel girl named Amber in 1995, and Jeremiah a handsome warrior in 1996. This was the only things in my life that keep me living at that time.

When Jeremiah was born I dealt with my husband’s cheating, beating, mental threats. He would time after time tell me he was going to kill me and take my kids far away, or that he would kill me and the kids. I was afraid for our lives. I believed his words so I lived in fear, and would not leave him.

Jeremiah was born a sickly child; I was in the hospital with him all the time. My life seemed to be falling apart around me. I never told anyone about it, I just held it in the depths of my inner soul. When Jeremiah was about 6 months old, Larry told me he wanted a divorce. I was quick to agree. I was so happy about getting out of this mess that I had put myself in. I finally found my way out of this prison that I had built for myself.

After the divorce I went to live with my mother and father. I became wild and reckless. Forgetting my responsibility I became a rebel, being the reckless child I was never allowed to be. I ended up pregnant again and was so distraught that I did not want to tell my parents. Even though I was an adult, I did not want them to know that I had been mischievous living the life of this world.

During this time period my Larry my x husband killed and murdered his father. The courts claimed he was mentally unstable to stand trial so they put him in a mental hospital for criminals. He had always told me that he would kill me, and that he would get away with it. He told me he would play crazy and he would not go to jail. It could have been me and my children if we would have stayed around.

Two years later I was a mother of three beautiful children, Amber and Jeremiah, then Robert. I finally gave my heart back to the Lord or so I thought I did. Still living in the false doctrine of the church, believing that I had to put on a good show and work my way to heaven never leaving my problems at the Cross of Calvary.

I had been divorced only three years when I meet a man at the church. I thought I was in love for sure this time. After knowing him for 1 year, we got married. This second marriage lasted for about 5 years also and it was wonderful for the first 3 years. Then Christopher my second husband fell back into drugs. He took me with him; Doing heroin, pot, cocaine, lsd, pills and every other drug that had been created. He began to shot me with needles keeping me so drugged up. He beat me all the time, he even one time pushed me out of a moving car, nearly killing me. He hit me in the head with a metal pole and split my skull. He told the doctors that I had fell off a ladder. He did this just because I told him I was leaving him.

After two long years of living through even worse abuse than I did with my first husband, I had called my sister to come take my kids. I explained the situation to her and told her I was afraid for my life. Explaining that, Christopher would not let me clean my self up; he would wait till I was asleep and fill my veins with drugs. I wanted out. The void only became darker and darker than before in my life.

Finally after a long wait and a battle of courage and bravery I ran for it. I left him when he least expected it. I prayed for God to help me. I had gone as far as I could on my own and I called out in a sincere voice, “God Please Help me. I can not do this anymore.” God came into my life and began opening up doors for me. The Lord knows if I wrote my life story down in completion it would be a book.

I have now been clean from drugs for 20 years. My three beautiful children are together, and I have been married for 7 long beautiful years. My husband, John M Pike Jr is the Evangelist of Cross of Christ Faith Ministries. God has restored my life, and placed my feet on higher ground. Now my husband and I teach the same message that was told to us that brought us out of the arid dry place and quench our thirst.

Never stop believing that God has a reason for every incident in your life. He does, and His purpose will be manifested in time, always to your good and His glory. I know for a fact that this statement is true. I have seen many people in the same situation come to the Lord because of the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. God has a purpose for all things, we may not understand them now, but He will reveal them to us in time. I have lived through the tears and God has renewed to me the years that I had lost. He is a wonderful God, He is My Redeemer. I now live Romans Chapter 6 and John 3:16-17. I am a walking miracle and you can be also, if only you have faith and believe in the one that died for you.

Submitted by
Tabitha Robin