Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Asenath by Anna Patricio Part 2

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


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






Today's Wild Card author is:







and the book:






Imajin Books (September 24, 2011)







***Special thanks to Anna Patricio for sending me a review copy.***




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Anna Patricio is a lover of ancient history, with a particular interest in Egypt, Israel, Greece, and Rome. She is also intrigued by the Ancient Near East, though she has not delved too much into it but hopes to one day.

She undertook formal studies in Ancient History at Macquarie University. She focused mostly on Egyptology and Jewish-Christian Studies, alongside a couple of Greco-Roman units, and one on Archaeology. Though she knew there were very limited job openings for ancient history graduates, she pursued her degree anyway as it was something she had always been passionate about.

Then, about a year after her graduation, the idea to tackle historical fiction appeared in her head, and she began happily pounding away on her laptop. ASENATH is her first novel.

Recently, she traveled to Lower Egypt (specifically Cairo and the Sinai), Israel, and Jordan. She plans to return to Egypt soon, and see more of it. In the past, she has also been to Athens and Rome.

Anna is currently working on a second novel, which still takes place in Ancient Egypt, but hundreds of years after ASENATH.

Visit the author's website.




SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Two Destinies...One Journey of Love

In a humble fishing village on the shores of the Nile lives Asenath, a fisherman's daughter who has everything she could want. Until her perfect world is shattered.

When a warring jungle tribe ransacks the village and kidnaps her, separating her from her parents, she is forced to live as a slave. And she begins a journey that will culminate in the meeting of a handsome and kind steward named Joseph.

Like her, Joseph was taken away from his home, and it is in him that Asenath comes to find solace...and love. But just as they are beginning to form a bond, Joseph is betrayed by his master's wife and thrown into prison.

Is Asenath doomed to a lifetime of losing everything and everyone she loves?











Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 222 pages
Publisher: Imajin Books (September 24, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1926997263
ISBN-13: 978-1926997261

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:






Egypt 1554 B.C.

The Nile had just flooded, leaving the ground moist, rich and black. The children of our riverside village, I among them, frolicked about in the cool, gooey earth. In the distance, the ancient river circled the land, glittering with a thousand tiny dancing lights from the sun-god's Boat of a Million Years. A breeze blew, rustling the branches of the palm trees that surrounded our home.
"Kiya!"
No sooner had I looked than a mud ball pelted me hard across the stomach.
"I'll get you for that, Menah." I bent down to gather mud in my hands when another ball landed on my back. He was a quick one, my best friend.
I had just formed a mud ball and was about to raise my arm when Menah suddenly charged forward and pounced on me.
"Now you'll get the tickle torture," he said in a mock evil voice.
"No, Menah. Please, no." But I was overcome by uncontrollable laughter.
"Menah! Kiya!" voices called out, interrupting our playful wrestling.
Our mothers approached.
"Come out now," my mother called. "It is time to prepare for the Feast of Hapi."
Covered in mud from head to toe, Menah and I scrambled toward them.
Mama shook her head, smiling. "You're such a mess."
She led me back to our hut.
"What is going to happen tonight, Mama?" I asked. "I mean, after we pray to Hapi? Will there be games?"
Mama's blue eyes twinkled against her brown skin. "I see no reason why there shouldn't be."
"And lots of food?"
"All the food you could ever want."
"May I wear my lotus necklace today?"
Years ago, when I was very young, Mama had given me a beautiful carved lapis lazuli lotus pendant strung on a simple piece of coarse rope. She told me it had been in her family for many generations and that her grandmother had received it from Hapi himself.
She ruffled my hair. "Of course. Today is, after all, a special day."
As we entered our mud hut, which had been my home since birth, I saw my father mending one of his fisherman's nets. When he saw me, he pretended to cower in fear.
"A mud monster has entered our house."
I laughed. "It's just me, Papa."
He leaned forward and squinted, as if trying to get a good look, though the gesture was comically exaggerated. "Is it? Let me see. Ah yes, it's my little Kiya."
He leapt to his feet, picked me up and swung me around, ignoring the mud that soiled his hands. I squealed with delight.
"Nakhti," Mama said. "I have to get her ready."
"Yes." Papa set me down. He gave me a gentle slap across the back, motioning for me to return to Mama.
"I get to wear the lotus today, Papa."
He smiled. "I am sure you will look very pretty."
Later that afternoon, four priests from a nearby town passed by our village. They shouldered on poles our patron god's idol, which nestled upon a bed of water lilies. A ray of sunlight bounced off the golden image and it flashed with brilliance. Behind the god was a small train of dancing priestesses. They rattled sistrums and twirled around, their white dresses billowing out like clouds.
My fellow villagers and I were assembled outside our village, awaiting the god's arrival. When he appeared, we fell to our knees and touched our foreheads to the sandy ground.
"Glorious Hapi," my father intoned. "We thank you for once again allowing your water to flow and give life. We thank you for nourishing our land and our people. We pray your sacred pitchers never cease to flow. We thank you, great god of the Nile."
My heart swelled with pride. Papa was the most renowned fisherman in our village. Though he was quite an old man - many years older than my mother - he possessed skills and strength that surpassed even those of the younger generations. Everyone thus hailed him as the favoured of the river god.
"Praise be to you, Hapi," I echoed along with the rest of my fellow villagers.
As the idol trailed away, we rose to our feet and gathered up the amulets and flowers, which we would be tossing into the Nile as offerings. It was sunset now and sheer red-orange skies cast a fiery glow upon the river's rippling surface. From a distance, we heard the warbling of river fowl and the screeching of monkeys.
We approached the riverbank. It was still soft and muddy from the inundation. We tossed our offerings in. All the while, Papa chanted hymns of praise. Afterward, we returned to the village for what we children had been anticipating the most - the games.
A kind, respectable widow named Mekten, whom everyone called "Village Mother", held a game called the "statue dance." She played a reed flute while we danced and would stop at random moments without warning. We had to freeze as soon as the music stopped. Those who were still dancing were out of the game.
My friends and I loved it so much that Mekten held several rounds of it. Unfortunately, I always lost, as I always got so caught up in the liveliness of the game. However, she awarded me a small spinning top as a prize for being the best dancer.
I danced so much that I could barely keep my eyes open as we later sat down to the feast. Papa picked me up and carried me back to our hut. I was too tired to protest. As soon as he lay me down, I fell into a deep sleep.
That night, I dreamt I was on a great winged barque sailing along the Nile. It was a bright day, with the white-golden Egyptian sun shining gloriously and flocks of ibises and herons gleaming against the clear blue sky. A group of friendly monkeys, like those who usually wandered near my family's hut, kept me company on the deck, entertaining me with their hilarious antics.
Suddenly, the skies darkened and the water began to thrash against the barque. The monkeys leapt up and down, screeching frantically. I grabbed onto the rail.
Thunder rumbled. Fierce white waves threatened to haul us overboard. The barque tipped to a dangerous level and I began to scream.
Waking, I placed my hand over my heart, which was pounding fiercely. I was about to heave a sigh of relief when I heard the rumbling from my dream. I sat up, my chest constricting in fear once more. The noise sounded like it was coming from outside our hut.
The rumbling stopped.
I heard a strange voice shouting in a language I could not understand.
My father appeared beside me. In the dim light, I could see the outline of his bony profile as he knelt by my side.
"What's that noise, Papa?"
He put his arms around me and before he could answer, a chilling scream sliced through the air. Other screams followed. Soon, the air was filled with a frightening cacophony - screams, cries and more shouts in that strange language.
Papa's grip on me tightened. "Come, Kiya. We must hide you."
The door of our hut flew open.
Two enormous, fearsome-looking warriors towered like the tallest trees. Their faces were thickly painted in bright, garish colours. They wore loincloths made of animal skin and peculiar pointed headdresses that emphasised their unusual height. In their hands were spears that glinted threateningly.
Mama screamed.
One of the warriors shouted something, while waving toward us. Another dashed forward and snatched me out of Papa's protective hold.
"Papa!"
The monster hauled me outside.
I kicked and flailed. "Papa!"
"Kiya!" Papa hurried after me.
Alas, though he was strong and agile, he was no match for these giants. They ran with such enormous strides that in no time he was out of sight.
"Papa?" I writhed about in the warrior's iron grip. "Papa!"
I felt a blow to the back of my head and the world turned black.
Cold water slapped my face. When I opened my eyes, I was staring into the massive painted face of my captor.
"Get up," he snarled. His breath was fouler than rotten fish.
I struggled to my feet. Though I was still in a daze, I dared not disobey.
The warrior grabbed my arm and led me through pitch-black darkness. I was certain he was going to kill me. My chest tightened with fear.
He led me out into a brightly lit clearing. It looked like we were in the midst of a dense jungle. A campfire crackled at the centre where the warrior's comrades sat feasting and talking.
Relief washed over me when I noticed my fellow villagers huddled together at the far end. Menah was with them.
I smiled. "Menah!"
The warrior slapped me hard across the face. "You are not to speak. If you do so again, we will kill you."
I shuddered, though I was less frightened than before now that I knew I was not alone.
The warrior dragged me over to the villagers and shoved me amongst them. "Stay with them. No talking and no trying to escape." He glared at us, then went to the fire to join the others.
Menah took my hand.
"Where are my parents?" I asked in a bare whisper.
He looked at me sadly and shook his head.
I knew what that meant. They were not there.
I suddenly threw up.
In a flash, the warrior was before us. "What's going on here?"
No one answered.
"She felt sick and vomited," our village mother Mekten said finally.
The warrior turned to his comrades and said something in their language. They laughed boisterously. He shook his head and returned to them.
Tears spilled from my eyes. Menah held me and rocked me, comforting me. I sobbed for a long time, eventually crying myself to sleep.
What followed was an arduous journey through the jungle. The scorching sun was merciless and mosquitoes bit my arms, legs and face. The entire time, our captors threatened to murder us and I might have actually died with despair had it not been for the familiar faces around me.
I do not know how far we travelled, but just as I thought we would perish, one of the warriors announced we had reached our destination.
It was early evening. We were led toward a tribal encampment illuminated by a towering bonfire. Drumbeats pounded in my ears as we drew nearer. When we entered the camp, I saw tents made of dyed animal hides, as well as poles topped with the decapitated heads of people and animals. I averted my eyes, trying to erase the horrific images from my head.
The drums were deafening as the tribespeople surrounded us. Like our captors, they were wrapped in animal skins. Their bodies were pierced in just about every part and painted in bright colours. I shuddered when a small child with painted teeth and a pierced nose came over and poked at my face.
My fellow villagers and I were lined up in front of the bonfire. I thought for sure they would murder us. I whimpered as one of the warriors strode up to us. I recognised him. He had entered my family's hut.
The warrior paced the length of our row. "Do you know why you are all here?"
No one answered.
He glared at us. "Many years ago, your Pharaoh murdered our chieftain. I am that chieftain's son and will now avenge my father's death. Until your king makes amends, we will continue to destroy your wretched country. If he does not, we will fight until Egypt is no more."
As he reached me, he stopped pacing and smiled, revealing crooked yellow teeth. "What is your name, little girl?" His voice was gentle.
"K-Kiya," I squeaked.
"What a beautiful girl you are. Has anyone ever told you how beautiful you are?"
I did not answer.
"How old are you?"
"Nine."
"Ah. Perfect." His hideous grin widened. "You will be my slave, Kiya. And when your red moon comes, you will become my bride."
I stared at him, too horrified to speak.
He stepped forward. "That flower around your neck goes very well with your lovely face." He fingered the lotus pendant and I pulled back.
"Where are my parents?" I blurted.
"We left them behind, little one. We have no use for them." He laughed cruelly.
My fear was replaced by rage. "I want my parents. Bring me back to my parents."
One of the warriors rushed toward me, but the chieftain held up his hand. He stared into space for a moment. "Very well. If you work hard, I will send for your parents by the time you and I are ready to marry."
My anger began to abate. "You mean that?" I looked into his dark eyes, which were surrounded by a strange painted pattern of dots.
"Yes. So what do you say, little Kiya? Are you going to work hard?"
I hated that he called me "little Kiya." It sounded like he was trying to replace Papa. But I knew that if I wanted to see my parents again, I had to be obedient and silent.
I nodded.
"Good," he said, turning away.
"What is a red moon?" I asked.
Some of my fellow villagers stared at me, aghast, while the tribespeople roared with laughter.
The chieftain approached Mekten. "Be Kiya's advisor and explain to her what a red moon is. I am sure you know full well." He winked at her.
I felt sick at that gesture, even though I did not understand what it meant.
Mekten nodded in submission.
The chieftain waved his arm, inviting his people to pick slaves from among us.
A tall, thin woman with large bone earrings and a cold expression led Mekten and I to the chieftain's large tent. When we stepped inside, I nearly screamed. The place was festooned with more disembodied animal heads, as well as enormous wooden masks with frightening expressions. The dim light from torches cast shadows on the eerie things, making them look almost alive.
The tribeswoman pointed to a dirty mat at the far end of the tent. "You will sleep there. Go now." Mekten and I headed for the mat, but the tribeswoman grabbed Mekten's arm. "Not you. You will stay here."
I stared at them, confused, and the woman glared at me. "Go!"
I hurried over to the mat as the tribeswoman extinguished the torch, plunging the tent into complete darkness.
All was silent. Then the tent's flap rose, revealing the bulky profile of the chieftain. He shuffled inside and the flap swung closed.
Not long after, I heard Mekten crying out in fear and pain. Heavy breathing followed. The louder Mekten screamed, the heavier the breathing grew.
Though I had no idea what was happening, I knew I was hearing something bad. I covered my ears, but it was no use. Similar screams rose from the neighbouring tents. I slept amongst nightmares, waking at times to the sound of terrified cries and heartbreaking sobbing.
The following morning, Mekten acted scared of everything and everyone, which wasn't like her. I wanted to make her feel better, but I didn't know how. Even the most trivial things I did frightened her.
Throughout the day, I kept a distance from her. But at times, I tried to reach out to her. She was, after all, one of our dearest family friends.
"Mekten," I said in a timid voice. "What is a red moon?"
Mekten looked at me with sad eyes. Finally, she took a deep breath and explained everything in a shaky voice before breaking down.

Asenath by Anna Patricio



Kiyah lives in a small fishing village between a the Nile River and the jungle.  She is happy and has everything she needs.  One day, her world is shattered when a warring jungle tribe falls upon the village tearing it to bits and kidnapping her along with many others and separating her from her parents.  She lives as a slave and is nurtured by an older woman that is taken with her.

Eventually, her own people (the Egyptians) come to her (as well as the others that were taken) rescue.  She is returned to her village, but finds herself alone.  She is taken to the orphanage in the city where she is trained as a temple servant.  One day, while she is in the market place, she sees a slave that has been beaten and mistreated.  She cannot fight the urge to comfort him, so she shares her canteen of water... knowing that she could get into trouble.  As she is shoved away from him, the slave looks at her and smiles with eyes that she will never forget. 

Her life changes in the years to come, she is adopted, her name is changed to Asenath and she is given everything she never knew she wanted or needed.

Joseph, was sold into slavery by his brothers. He was taken far from his own home and mistreated.  He came to work in a home where he became well trusted, until the mistress of the house came on to him and then accused him of trying to rape her when he said no!  What was to happen to him now?

This is the story of Asenath and Joseph and how their lives intertwined over and over again. Can they overcome all the trials and tribulations of life and find a way to enjoy their blossoming love?  What about the God of Joseph? How does He plan to work all things for good?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I really enjoyed this book and felt that it was well written!  I love when authors pick an "obscure" character of the Bible and embellish and fill in their lives for us to have a glimpse of what they might have been feeling and what they possibly went through.

Anna Patricio has taken Joseph's wife, Asenath, and brought her to life in this book. Patricio has woven an intricate story of happiness,  absolute terror, sorrow and mourning, healing, hope and love in Asenath.

My only dislike with the entire book is that Patricio uses the word "b*tch" twice.  I was actually shocked the first time I read it and then I was surprised that curse words only appeared twice... because most books that I've read that have curse works in them have way more that two.   Since, I went in to reading this book with the thought that it was Christian Historical Fiction, I wanted to find out from the author why she used this word.  Here are her own words:


"I used the B-word first because Asenath was in the throes of anger and frustration, especially as it concerned her hated enemy Potiphar's wife; and secondly because it is in character with Potiphar's wife (who said it the 2nd time). However, as you can see, both uses were reprimanded.

In short, I put it to make the novel realistic. Sorry if it made you uncomfortable, though mind you I don't talk like that in my everyday speech. " 

So, as a warning... this book does contain two incidents of 1 "bad" word.  If you are like me, you read more that just Christian Fiction, so you see this in other books, I just wanted to warn you.   I would definitely recommend this book and this author.  Anna Patricio was very gracious about my asking her questions and I feel that she is a promising new author!

Here is a trailer for her book:


Check her out on Amazon.com or at her blog: Anna Patricio.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry

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


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






Today's Wild Card author is:







and the book:






Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (January 20, 2012)








ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


As a child, Chris Fabry wrote stories, songs and poems. The creative process invigorated him. He may not have been a fast reader, but the words on the page had a deep effect. So he vowed that if he ever had the chance to write, he would take it.

After high school, Fabry attended and graduated from the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University in Huntington, WV. After graduation, Fabry and his wife felt a desire for biblical education, so his pastor suggested they check out Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. At Moody, Fabry met Jerry Jenkins who learned of his desire to write and encouraged him to pursue his dream. In 1998, Jenkins and Dr. Tim LaHaye hired him to write Left Behind: The Kids series. He wrote 35 books in that series over the next six years. He later collaborated with Jenkins on the Red Rock Mysteries series and The Wormling series, and in 2008 he worked solo on the NASCAR-based RPM series.

Since then he has published four novels for adults: Dogwood, June Bug, Almost Heaven and his newest novel, Not in the Heart. Each of his first three books was nominated for a Christy Award in the Contemporary Standalone Category, winning in 2009 for Dogwood and in 2011 for Almost Heaven. In addition to his fiction work, Fabry also collaborated on two best-selling football biographies with Ohio State’s Jim Tressel and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints. Altogether, Fabry has published more than 70 books for children and adults.

Fabry’s other passion is broadcasting. As part of the DECCA program in high school, he worked at WNST Radio in Milton, WV. During his senior year at Marshall University, he worked for WSAZ-TV as a weekend reporter. In 1985, he began hosting Open Line, a national call-in show which he hosted until 1997. In 1993, he began a six-year stint as co-host of Mornings with Greg and Chris on WMBI in Chicago. Then in May of 2008 he began Chris Fabry Live! which received the 2008 Talk Personality of the Year Award from the National Religious Broadcasters. He can also be heard daily on Love Worth Finding, featuring the teaching of the late Dr. Adrian Rogers.

Chris and his wife of almost 30 years, Andrea, are the parents of nine children.


Visit the author's website.




SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:



Truman Wiley used to report news stories from around the world, but now the most troubling headlines are his own. He’s out of work, out of touch with his family, out of his home. But nothing dogs him more than his son’s failing heart.

With mounting hospital bills and Truman’s penchant for gambling his savings, the situation seems hopeless . . . until his estranged wife throws him a lifeline—the chance to write the story of a death row inmate, a man convicted of murder who wants to donate his heart to Truman’s son.

As the execution clock ticks down, Truman uncovers disturbing evidence that points to a different killer. For his son to live, must an innocent man die? Truman’s investigation draws him down a path that will change his life, his family, and the destinies of two men forever.












Product Details:
List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (January 20, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414348614
ISBN-13: 978-1414348612






AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:








30 days before execution







The trouble with my wife began when she needed Jesus and I
needed a cat. Life can be that way. That’s part of the reason I was on Sanibel
Island in the cottage I had always dreamed of owning and she was in Tallahassee
tending to the sick son of our youth. But it’s more complicated. There was more
troubling me than religion or people who think problems can be solved with a
leap of faith.



Said cottage was a tiny house that seems to be the rage
among those who believe we are warming the planet with each exhale. I didn’t
buy it because of that, but I recycle my Coors Light cans. My little
contribution to the cause. Lately it’s been a hefty contribution. There was one
bedroom in the back and a little bathroom, a walk-through kitchen, and a living
area that I used as an office. Murrow usually sat in the window looking out at
the beach with as much interest as I have in paying both of my mortgages. It’s
not that I don’t want to pay. I can’t.



I was on the bed, surfing news sites, fueling the ache about
my lack of direction and lack of a job. The satellite TV company disconnected
me a few months ago, so I got my news online from the unprotected network of a
neighbor who can’t encrypt his wireless router.



I could see the downsizing coming in every area of the
conglomerate media company. I knew it would hit the newsroom, but I always
thought when the music stopped, I would have a chair. What I got was severance,
a pat on the back, and a shelf full of awards I stuffed into a suitcase that
sat in the attic of a cottage I couldn’t afford.



I closed my laptop and told Murrow I’d be back, as if she
cared, and walked barefoot out the front door and down the long, wooden
stairway to the beach. I bought this cottage for these long, head-clearing
walks. The sound of the waves crashing against doubts and fears. The smell of
the ocean and its salty cycle of life and death.



A mom and a dad dressed in white strolled along the beach
with two kids who squealed every time the water came close.



I walked the other way.



The phone rang as I passed a dead seagull. Not a good omen.



“Tru, it’s me.”



The woman of my dreams. The woman of my nightmares.
Everything good and bad about my life. The “I do” that “I didn’t.”



“Ellen. What’s up?”



“How are you?” She said it with a measure of compassion, as
if she weren’t holding back years of boiling anger. As if she didn’t have
something else she wanted to ask me and wasn’t just setting the stage for the
coup de grâce.



“I’m good. Just taking a walk on the beach.”



Wish you weren’t here. Wish you
weren’t still in my head. Wish you hadn’t called. Wish the last twenty years
were something I could bury in the sand. What were you thinking marrying a guy
like me? My life is a sand castle and my days are wind and water.



“Hear anything back yet? Any offers?”



“There’s nothing plural about my job prospects. Not even
singular. I did hear from the Fox station in Des Moines yesterday. They went
with somebody with longer hair and bigger lungs.”



She spoke with a wry smile. “It’s only a matter of time; you
know that.”



“Right. It’s always been a matter of time, hasn’t it?”



She let the irony hang there between us, and I could picture
her in her wedding dress and without it. Then the first time we met in the
university newsroom, big glasses and frilly blouse. Hair that smelled like the
ocean and felt like silk. A sharp wit, infectious laugh, and the tenacity of a
bloodhound on every story she covered. I thought we were always going to be on
the same page, but somehow I kept chasing headlines and she moved to the Life
section.



“I have something that might interest you,” she said.



“How old is she?” I’m not always a smart aleck with the
people I love. When I’m asleep, they tell me I don’t say much of anything.



“It’s not a she. It’s a he with a pretty good story. A great
story. A life changer.”



“Not into guys.”



She sighed and plowed ahead. “Have you heard of Terrelle
Conley?”



That was like asking a history major if she’d ever heard of
Alexis de Tocqueville. “I know he’s facing the needle.”



“Right. Next month.”



“Wonder what his last meal will be. How do they choose that
anyway? Shrimp and steak or lobster bisque? Macaroni and cheese? How can you
enjoy a meal knowing you only have hours left? Or what movie to watch? What
would you choose?”



“I know his wife, Oleta. She wants somebody to write the
story from his perspective. The whole family does.”



I laughed. “In thirty days or less.”



“They’ve scraped up some money. Not much, but it could
probably help.”



“How much is ‘probably’?”



“I don’t know exactly, but I was thinking you could call
Gina and find out if—”



“I’m not with Gina or the agency anymore. She dropped me.
Said it was a hard decision on their part. I guess they took a vote.”



“I’m sorry.”



“Just another bump in the literary highway. I don’t think writing
is my thing, anyway.” I said it halfheartedly, coaxing some kind of compliment.



“You’re a great writer,” she obliged. “You haven’t had as
many opportunities lately, but . . .”



“I haven’t had any politicians who want to be president or
sports stars who’ve been accused of steroids approach me in a few years. That’s
what you mean,” I said. “Where did you meet Olatha?”



“Oleta. I met her at church.”



Groan. How did I know that was coming?



I paused at a sand castle that had been constructed with
several five-gallon buckets. Towels and chairs had been abandoned for the
moment. Water filled the moat, and I heard laughter from a bungalow perched
like a lighthouse above. A couple in love.



“You must have some idea of how much.”



“A few thousand. We didn’t talk about that. The important
thing . . . it’s not just an opportunity for you. It’s for
Aiden.”



“Now you’re really getting cryptic. You want to back up?”



“Terrelle’s wife is in a study group with me. She’s known
about Aiden’s condition for years. Always asks for updates. Terrelle came up
with the idea—he wants to be a donor. A second chance for Aiden.”



I should have been doing cartwheels. Our eighteen-year-old
son could get a new lease on life? Instead, I was skeptical, like any good
journalist. “Ellen, there’s no chance. Do you know how long something like that
would take?”



“It’s been in process for a while.”



“Why didn’t you tell me?”



“You haven’t exactly been available.”



“The prison system, the authorities, they’ll never let
this—”



“The governor is taking it seriously. I’ve heard he’s
working with the legislature. It’s not a done deal, but there’s a chance.”



The governor. The hair rose on the back of my neck.



“Ellen, there’s some law firm in Tallahassee salivating at
all the appeals and counterappeals that are going to happen. This is less than
a long shot.”



“Yeah, but right now it’s looking like a pretty good long
shot.” There was emotion in her voice and for the first time I noticed noise in
the background.



“Where are you?”



She swallowed hard and I imagined her wiping away a tear. My
wife has had plenty of practice.



“At the hospital again,” she said. “ICU.”



I cursed under my breath and away from the phone. Not just
because of all the hospital bills I knew were coming my way, but also because
this was my son. I’ll be honest—the bills were the first thing I thought of,
but picturing him hooked up to tubes and needles again crushed me.



“How is he?”



“Not good. They’re monitoring him. Same story.”



“How long have you been there?”



“Since late last night. He was having trouble breathing.
Lots of pain. He asks about you.”



Guilt. She had to get that in there, didn’t she?



“Tell him to hang in there, okay?”



“Come see him. It would mean so much.”



“Yeah. I will.” I said it fast, though I knew I’d have to
launder all the cat hair from my clothes because Aiden’s deathly allergic to
cats just like I’m allergic to the inside of the death chamber.



Someone spoke over the intercom near her and the sound took
me back to those first days when I wasn’t as scared of hospitals. Back then I
could watch a movie or a TV show with a medical setting. Now I can’t even watch
the TV promos. My chest gets tight and the smell of alcohol and Betadine and
the shape of needles invades, mingling with the cries of a young child in pain
and another memory of a man on a gurney.



We discovered Aiden’s heart malady by accident. Ellen was
into natural food, natural medicine, whole-grain seaweed sandwiches and eggs
that came from free-range chickens who had bedtime stories read to them each
night before they settled into their nests. Natural childbirth with a midwife.
All that stuff. She was convinced antibiotics were the forbidden fruit, so she
didn’t run to the HMO every time our kids were sick. But something told her to
take Abby in for some chest congestion she couldn’t get rid of. Aiden was with
her, and on a lark the doctor placed the stethoscope on his chest.



Ellen cried when she tried to explain the look on the
woman’s face. They’d missed it when he was born.



That sent us on a crash course of congenital heart defects
and a series of surgeries and treatments that would change our lives. Ellen
hates hospitals as much as I do, but you do what you must for your kids.



“Terrelle has the same blood type,” Ellen said. “He’s about
the same size as Aiden, maybe a little smaller, which is good.”



“Ellen, you know this is not going to happen, right? There
are so many hoops and holes. They don’t let doctors execute people.”



“There are guidelines, but they don’t have a problem
harvesting organs from an already-deceased donor.”



“Anybody who’s pro-life will howl. I thought you were
pro-life.”



“I am, but this is something Terrelle wants.”



“Doesn’t matter. They harvest organs from prisoners in
China, but we’re not in China.” Though you wouldn’t know it by shopping at
Walmart.



“I know all that. But I also know my son is going to die.
And Terrelle and his wife want something good to come out of their tragedy.
They asked if you would write his story. I got to thinking that maybe . . .”



She broke a little and hearing her cry felt like some lonely
prayer drifting away and hitting the empty shores of heaven. Not that I believe
there is one, but you know, metaphorically speaking.



“You were thinking what?” I said.



“Maybe all of this is not really for Aiden. Maybe all we’ve
been through in the last eighteen years is for somebody else. If they deny
Terrelle’s request and Aiden doesn’t make it, maybe writing this story will
make a difference for someone down the road.”



Her altruism was more than I could handle. “Look, I don’t
care about all the people with sick kids. I don’t care about prisoners who want
to make up for their crimes. I don’t care about protesters or the politicians
who’ve found a wedge issue. I just want my son to live. Is that asking too
much?”



The emotion surprised me and I noticed the family in white
had changed direction but now quickly herded their children away from me.



It was Ellen’s turn to sound collected. “Do you have time to
work on something like that in the next thirty days? It would at least pay a
few bills.”



“If they’re trying to get a stay of execution, they need to
go straight to the press. Forget a book deal, forget a magazine exposé—it’s
already too late. Get somebody at one of the local stations to pick it up and
run with it—”



“Tru, they don’t want a stay. He wants to give his heart to
Aiden. And somebody has to get the story down before it’s over. No matter how
it goes, this will make a great story.”



I was already mulling titles in my head. A Heart from Death Row. Change of Heart. Pitter-Pat. Life in
Vein. Aorta Made a Better Choice.



She continued, “They know your history. What you’ve seen.
How you’re against the death penalty and why. For all your faults, Tru, you’re
the best reporter I’ve ever known. You get to the heart of the story like
nobody else. I think you should consider it.”



The Heart of the Story. Another
good title. I could tell she was buttering me up. I love being buttered up by
lovely women. But I hate the complications of life with beautiful women.



“I don’t write evangelical tracts.”



“Why are you so stubborn?” she whisper-screamed at me. Her
voice had an echo like she had moved into the bathroom or stairwell. “Why do
you have to look at this as some kind of spiritual conspiracy against you
instead of a gift? This is being handed to you on a platter. Don’t push it
away. I don’t care if you agree with them about God. You didn’t agree with
every sports figure or politician.”



“The only way I know how to do this job is to ferret out the
truth and tell it. Flat out. The way I see it. And if you’re expecting me to
throw in the third verse of a hymn every other chapter and quote the Gospel of
Terrelle, I can’t do that. Call somebody from the Christian right.”



“Tru, it’s because of who you are and how you tell the story
that they want you. Just talk with her. Let her explain. If you don’t like the
situation, they’ll go somewhere else. But they have to act quickly.”



The sun was coming down behind me and the wind picked up off
the water. I could smell the first hint of an impending storm. Or maybe I
forgot my deodorant.



“I’ll think about it.”



I hadn’t been gone that long, but as I walked up the
stairs, I heard a vehicle pulling away from the house. The taillights had
disappeared into the distance by the time I made it to my front door.



Murrow was still in the window, looking down on me with that
superior look. Humans are such a waste of oxygen,
she seemed to say. Maybe she was right. Maybe we are a waste of oxygen and the
best thing would be for us to be wiped from the planet. But something inside
said that wasn’t true. Something inside pushed me to keep moving, like an ant
dragging a piece of grass along the sidewalk until a strong wind blows it away.
The ant picks up another and starts over. I get exhausted just watching them.



On the front door was a legal document stating that whereby
and forthwith said mortgage company had begun said process with an intent to
foreclose and otherwise vacate said occupant’s tail onto the street to wit and
wheretofore so help them God, amen. I had received several such letters in the
mail, filing them carefully, hoping the rising tide of foreclosures would save
my little cottage until I got a new job.



I ripped the notice down and used it to wipe the sand from
my feet. And then a thought struck. A horrible, no-good, bad thought. The
newspaper. They published my name with each intent to foreclose. That meant
others would know where I was. Others, as in people I owed. Bad people.



Another car passed, slowly. Tinted windows. A low rumble of
expensive metal and fuel.



I hurried to the back of the little house and pulled out
every suitcase I could find and stowed everything of value. Books. Pictures of
me with newsmakers. Cloudy memories of trips abroad, war zones, interviews with
generals and dignitaries who went on to fame or perished in motorcades that
didn’t make it through IEDs.



It was hard not to sit and absorb the memories, but the
passing car gave urgency. I jammed every journal and notebook in with the
pictures, then put one suitcase with clothes in the trunk of my car and took
the rest on my shoulder down the sandy path to the Grahams’ house. Sweet
people. He retired from the Air Force and they moved for the sun and salty air.
Both should have died long ago from arthritis and other maladies, but they were
out walking the beach every day like two faithful dogs, paw in paw.



Jack and Millie were on the front porch, and I asked if I
could borrow some space in their garage for a suitcase or two. “I need to take
a trip. Someone new will be living in my house.”



“Relatives coming?”



“No, someone from the Bank of America wants it.”



Millie struggled to get out of her rocker and stood by a
white column near the front door. “If you need help, Truman, we’d be glad to.”



Jack nodded and the gesture almost brought tears to my eyes.
“How much are you short?” he said.



“Just a spot in the garage is all I need.”



“What about your cat?” Millie said.



“Murrow’s going with me.”



“If we can do anything at all . . . ,”
Jack’s voice trailed.



“I appreciate it. I appreciate both of you. Thanks for your
kindness.”



“We pray for Aiden every day,” Millie said.



The garage was spotless. Everything hanging up or neatly
placed on shelves. I should have joined the Air Force. In the back I found an
empty space near some gardening tools. I shook Jack’s hand gently and gave
Millie a hug. I only turned and looked at them once as I walked back to the
house. They stood like sentinels, the fading light of the sun casting a golden
glow around them and their house.



When Murrow saw the cat carrier, she bolted under the sofa
and I threatened to sell her to the local Chinese restaurant. An open can of
StarKist and my tender, compassionate voice helped coax her into the carrier,
and we were off.



I texted my wife: Will call your
friend tomorrow. Can I use Abby’s room?



The phone buzzed in my shirt pocket as I drove along the
causeway into darkening clouds. Key under frog. No
cats. The next text gave Oleta’s number and a short message. You were made for this story.



Maybe she was right. Maybe I was the one for this job. One
loser telling the story of his kindred spirit. I sure didn’t have anything
better to do. But with the window down and my hand out, being pushed back by
the cool air, it felt less like the start of a new chapter and more like the
end of one.

The Mighty Macs... A Giveaway!





About the Movie:

It's 1971. Cathy Rush is a woman ahead of her time ... and she's about to embark on an adventure for the ages. A new era is dawning in the country and in collegiate athletics, where a national champion will be crowned for the first time in women's basketball.
In the lead up to this historical season, major universities are preparing their game plans to win that first title. Meanwhile a tiny all-women's Catholic college in Philadelphia has a more modest goal: find a coach before the season begins. Providentially, Cathy Rush is about to find Immaculata College.

Recently married, Cathy is dealing with the aftermath of a truncated playing career. While cultural norms would have her staying at home, she's willing to do the hard work necessary to help her new team reach their goals—or perhaps she's just trying to achieve her unfulfilled dreams through them.

From the beginning, her challenges are as imposing as the big-school teams Immaculata will face on the court. Cathy learns there is no gymnasium on campus, she receives little support from the school's Mother Superior, and the school is in dire financial straits. To top it off, she may not even have enough players to field a team!

While it appears the Macs don't have a prayer, all hope is not lost. With the help of Sister Sunday—a spunky assistant coach—and the support of a booster club of elderly nuns, Coach Rush creates a new game plan that just might bring the team—and the school—together.

Will this pioneer buck cultural norms and spur her rag-tag team to unexpected heights? Or will her hard-driving ways create a wedge between the coach and everyone around her? One thing's for certain: there's never been anyone like Cathy Rush at Immaculata!


Check it out on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube.


This was an amazing movie of hope, teamwork and getting past diversity and obstacles.  I cried tears of joy and sorrow and clapped at the successes! My favorite part, is that The Mighty Macs is based on a true story!!





If you are interested in winning a copy of this movie, please leave a comment!! I will pick a winner on February 24th, 2012.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Six Way to Keep the "Good" in Your Boy by Dannah Gresh


In my previous post, you are given a summary of this book and you can read the first chapter, so this post is my actual review of the book.

I chose this book to review because I have 2 boys who are 10 and 11 (12 in May).  Honestly, I am desperate at times trying to understand my boys and praying for them NOW and their future.  It is overwhelming... seriously.  I just don't understand the mind of the male (at any age, ha).  So, I dove in to reading this book hoping for some serious answers or help to the mind boggling life of rearing a Godly young man and helping find himself and who God wants him to be.  

There are some really good points in the book. One is that young boys need good role models in their lives.  So what about single moms, are they just out of luck?  Dannah gets her friends Angela Thomas to speak to rearing boys in a single mom home... and there are lots of good suggestions.

One thing I specifically took away from this is that my husband and sons relate and communicate in a different manner than I communicate and relate to my sons.  And that is okay.  I have worried in the past about the way my boys and husband spend time together.... but Dannah (and her husband, Bob) have eased my concerns.  I am going to go back and reread this book.. probably several times to get the most out of it.  

While I DO recommend the book, I would say , as with any "self-help" or Christian-living book-- take what works for you, what fits in your life and use it. Ask God to help you to draw from the book the truths He wants for you and your family.  If you can get your husband to read the book-- even better!!  I don't think my husband would read it, but I look forward to learning more and sharing with him what I learn.  

Most of all, remember that You are the parent GOD chose for your son(s).  So, you are the BEST parent for him!! 

Six Ways to Keep the "Good" in Your Boy by Dannah Gresh

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


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






Today's Wild Card author is:







and the book:






Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)





***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Dannah Gresh is a bestselling author, a speaker, and the creator of the Secret Keeper Girl live events. Her books include Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl, 8 Great Dates for Moms and Daughters, And the Bride Wore White, and Lies Young Women Believe (coauthored with Nancy Leigh DeMoss). She and her husband have a son and two daughters and live in Pennsylvania.


Visit the author's website.




SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Bestselling author Dannah Gresh empowers moms of with six proactive ways to raise sons age 8-12 to be honest, confident, and respectful. This encouraging, practical resource shows how the formative years can shape a godly, healthy teen and adult. Includes engaging activity ideas, and Scriptures to pray over sons.









Product Details:
List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736945792
ISBN-13: 978-0736945790






AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:










Is There a Mouse in
That Cookie Box?






A box of cookies and a dead mouse.



  The combination conjures up one of the proudest memories of mothering my wonderful son, Robby. (If you meet him, you can call him Rob. But I can’t. He’s still my Robby even if he’s the size of a linebacker.) He was a freshman at Grace Prep high school and was just returning from a school-assigned Random Act of Kindness when these two mismatched objects—mouse and cookies—mingled together to create an equally odd mixture of emotions.



  Just hours earlier, armed with nothing more than a few boxes of cookies and several rakes, he and a few friends had set out to do some good. They’d come back a little flustered, but laughing their experience off like four cool 15-year-old boys should.



  “We just got yelled at,” said Robby, wearing the words like a badge of courage.



  “By whom?” I asked.



  “Some crazy woman who thought there must be a mouse in the cookies we were trying to give her,” he answered defensively.



  “What!” I was just a little aggravated, having been the one who had issued the assignment. How could anyone react with anger and suspicion (particularly in our small, friendly town) to a box of cookies and an offer to do yard work? Surely they must have misunderstood. “Tell me what happened. Play-by-play,” I said.



  “Well, we knocked on the lady’s door to give her the cookies and ask permission to rake her leaves,” Robby answered. “When we tried to hand her the cookies she looked afraid and angrily said, ‘Is there a dead mouse in that box?’   ”



  The other boys snickered. I could see that they thought it was funny, but that it also bothered them.



  I was having a hard time believing it.



  “We promised there wasn’t a mouse in there, but she just couldn’t believe we were there to do anything good. So one of the guys said, ‘Look, we just want to show you God’s love in a practical way.’   ”



  This made me smile. It was what they’d been taught. “Transfer the credit of this good act to God,” I’d said in class.



  “What’d she say when you said that?” I asked.



  “She grabbed the cookies, said, ‘Rake if you want to,’ and slammed the door in our faces!” said Robby. “So, we raked.”



  I could tell that the guys were still a bit shaken, and I was a bit angry that they hadn’t been met with the reward of a simple “thank you.”



  A few weeks later, God brought the whole thing full circle with a letter that came in the mail. One of the members of Robby’s group got to read it out loud in chapel. I wish I still had it. It went something like this:





Dear Grace Prep:






Recently some boys from your school came here to deliver cookies to my daughter and me. They also raked our leaves. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t trust them. I am sorry. (For the record, they were really yummy cookies.)






I think God sent those boys here.






You see, my husband—my daughter’s father—died recently and it has been tough. Just that morning my daughter and I kind of put a test out there for God. We prayed, saying, “If you’re really there and you really see us, show up!”






When he did, we didn’t recognize him right away. But I have no doubt that God sent those high-school boys to remind us that he sees us.






Thank you.




  You could have heard a pin drop in that room of high-school kids when the letter was read. We were all simply struck with the power of goodness.



  But here’s why this wonderful memory not only floods my heart with pride, but also makes me sad: We’ve lost our faith in the goodness of boys and men. And not wholly without reason.

Where Have All the Good Men Gone?


  A title of a recent Wall Street Journal article inquired, “Where Have the Good Men Gone?” A current Amazon bestseller seeks to answer the question, Is There Anything Good About Men? Since the 2004 coining of the word “adultescent,”  1 we’ve had something to call the young adult male who is so busy playing Call of Duty on his PlayStation 4 that he has no real-life call of duty. No honor. No integrity. No goodness. Just a seventh-grade mind-set and responsibility level trapped in the flabby body of an adult who often still lives at home or in a tacky bachelor pad with other adultescents. The phenomenon is what caused Kay S. Hymowitz to pen the book Manning Up, in which she writes,





Not so long ago, average mid-twentysomethings, both male and female, had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: high school diploma, financial independence, marriage, and children. These days [the males] hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance.  2




  High-school English teacher Joe Carmichiel has written a book entitled Permanent Adolescence: Why Boys Don’t Grow Up, because “a large number of today’s teenagers, especially boys, see no reason to accept or pursue adulthood since it is of so little value to the larger culture.”  3 So, with no motivation todo anything, many of these young men remain in a state of wimpy complacency well into their twenties, even thirties.



  Along with this state of immaturity that many boys will embrace as they grow older is a culturally acceptable pressure for boys to be bad—both complacent and void of character. By the time a boy is finished with high school, he is likely to have three crucial areas of character ripped right out of him:


  1. Over 50 percent of young men will have become sexually active in a casual-sex culture where they’re likely to have an average of 9.7 sexual partners before they graduate from college.  4 (There goes his purity.)
  2. Most of them will be exposed to porn as a tween or early teen, with the median age of first exposure being about 11. This catapults many of them into a world of double-mindedness where they are one boy at home and in public—and another entirely in their private world. (There goes his integrity.)
  3. Many will have succumbed to an emasculated version of manhood that strips them of their drive to be leaders and protectors who do good. (There goes his honor.)



  Our boys need to be taught to grow up.



  And to be good.







While Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl    cried
out for us to band together against the culture’s pressure for our little girls to grow up too fast, this book pleads with you to join us in raising sons who are prepared to embrace the responsibility of growing up.




  It’s been our goal to create a character base for our son to be a man of integrity, honor, and purity. Bob and I want him to be good. Fortunately, our life work led me into the depths of research, and I learned that we had to start building a foundation for our son to rise to the call of manhood…when he was still just our “good boy”! Raising a son to reflect your value system when he is a man is—in part—a matter of introducing those values to him in an age-appropriate manner when he is a tween. Social science offers us statistical lines of footprints showing how a boy will turn out based on what he is exposed to and when. Sadly, our boys have got a tough battle ahead. It’s been a long time since they’ve seen anything but “adultescent” or “bad” examples of manhood dominating our culture.

Why Are Boys “Bad”?


  Robert Coles, a pioneer in the field of moral intelligence, brings clarity to the definition badness when he writes,





Bad boys display a “heightened destructive self-absorption, in all its melancholy stages.” In essence, we go bad when “we lose sight of our obligation to others.”  5




  Badness is not simply the loss of innocence, purity, integrity, and honor, but also the loss of vision to see the needs of others and to act on them. It’s a complacent, self-absorbed lifestyle that is void of character.



  I think we have a bad-boy mentality in our culture for two primary reasons.



The first reason boys become bad is that the feminist movement has told us they are bad. Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Boys, though seeming to embrace the feminist movement as a whole, points out a few devastating myths it introduced to convince our boys that they are “bad.” Here are two that resonate with me:





Myth Number One: “that masculinity is responsible for the world’s ills and femininity is the world’s salvation.”  6






Myth Number Two: “males destroy, females create; males stand in the way of positive spiritual/social values; males are inherently violent.”  7




  While a deeper study of the feminist movement would betray an agenda to introduce these fallacies, we don’t have to get that academic to see how much we are influenced to believe these myths in our politically correct culture.



  Just consider how prevalently they are portrayed in the media. Television alone reinforces them. Two and a Half Men, “the biggest hit comedy of the past decade” according to the New York Times, features a hedonist formerly played by Charlie Sheen. After eight seasons, the show was stalled when Sheen went into rehab for drug use. He was then fired for making disparaging remarks about the show’s producers. On and off screen he was self-absorbed and void of character. Other shows display the contrast of the valuable female to the valueless male. Reruns of The Simpsons portray Lisa as bright and beautiful and Bart as out of shape and selfish. Co-ed television commercials often portray the guy as a doofus and the girl as smart. It’s funny. It really is. But how much of it can we expose ourselves to before we believe it? And that takes me to my next concern.



The second reason boys are “bad” is that they have become what has been expected of them, just like any individual tends to fulfill what has been prophesied about them. Of course, they’ve had help from their parents (or lack thereof), their culture (and its emasculation), their economy (and its consumeristic “me” mentality), and their churches (who haven’t done much to stand against the feminist untruths). But today’s men as a whole have pretty much rolled over and taken it.



  It’s probably a good idea for me, Bob, to step in here. I’m a guy. If anyone’s going to throw us under the bus, it should be me. It has always befuddled me that the prettiest, nicest girls are always attracted to the bad boys. From the jock who bullies everyone at school to the kid in a leather jacket who doles out drugs after school, nice girls often go after the bad boys. In the Twilight series, bad boy Edward Cullen makes good girl Bella Swan swoon. In real life, the stars live out the scenario. Kevin Federline was the top bad boy of the tabloids when he nabbed the most famous girl on the planet at the height of her career, Britney Spears. Katy Perry, former Christian music artist gone sexual tease, pledged herself to bad boy Russell Brand.



  I think that the constant drip of these scenarios into our spirits makes us want to be bad boys. Let’s be real: A guy desires a beautiful girl, and while the ones in the headlines might not be all that chaste, they’re often portrayed as the good girl taken by the bad boy. And guess what? Guys want nice girls. So, we begin to believe that maybe we’re supposed to be bad.



  And if we’re not, we’re boring.



  Come on. The media glorifies the bad boys—from Grease’s Danny Zuko to Pirates of the Caribbean’s Captain Jack Sparrow—not the plain-vanilla good guys. I didn’t watch this show, but Dannah says Gilmore Girls played to this big time when Rory fell for beautiful boy Dean until bad boy Jess came to town. The bad boy is so often the one the girl wants and celebrates.



  Conversely, there aren’t a lot of movies being made about Billy Graham, the kid who called 9-1-1 and delivered his mom’s baby, or the apostle Paul. These are true heroes…but they’re good. And good is boring, according to movie producers. Since no one rises up to celebrate the good, most guys—though innately built to be conquerors—roll over and become boring.



  In some twisted place in our minds, we’d much rather be bad than boring because that’s how you get the girl. But many of us are afraid of being the real bad boy. So we just get complacent. We roll over and stay in some limbo—a state of in-between. Not really bad. Not really good. Or so we think.



  In reality, this complacency is the absolute root of badness.

The Tree


  Complacency was at the root of the first bad move among men. (Yes—the bad move of all time.) Adam had the most complacent moment of all when he stood at the foot of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was Eve who wore the pants in the first family during this catastrophic moment. She took the lead and reached for the fruit of the Tree. Adam just got all quiet, passive and…well, boring. The Scriptures don’t note that he was deceived, tempted, or lied to like Eve. Just that he went along with it.



  Some theologians believe that there was something in the way that Eve was crafted which made her more vulnerable to deception. (Just consider how often we women are prone to think things like “I’m fat!” Haven’t seen too many guys obsessing over that thought. Or maybe you’ve been prone to believe the lie “No one really likes me.” Men don’t struggle with that as often or as easily. Women are just prone to believing lies.) However, many believe that Satan approached Eve because he was attempting to throw over the created order by getting her to take leadership over her husband. And Adam seemed to passively accept this evil situation to gratify his flesh. Sounds a bit too much like many men of today.



  Complacency led to the first sin. (Perhaps, had Adam chosen to speak truth to Eve, he could have led her away from that horrible original sin.) His failure to lead changed the course of history. We believe that the same kind of complacency that showed itself at the foot of the Tree still leads men to badness.

Goodness vs. Badness


  While a bad boy’s greatest desire is to live according to his desires, a good boy, according to Robert Coles, has an outward focus:





Good…boys…have learned to take seriously the very notion, the desirability of goodness—living up to the Golden Rule.  8




  The Greek word for goodness (used in our take-to-heart verse, Romans 12:21) appears in the New Testament in three forms, all of which are rooted in the Hebrew word tod, which means “usefulness” or “beneficialness.” Are we bringing up boys who understand their call of duty to be useful contributors to society, to be beneficial to others?



  Goodness is the quality that makes us put others ahead of ourselves. It’s the moral compass that keeps the world safe, happy, and working. It’s the drive that makes us want to function in families rather than isolation. It’s the internal road sign that takes us away from our own desires and toward the destiny of meeting the needs of others. Without it, we are “bad.” That’s probably why all of us—male and female—are called to goodness.



Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good.



Romans 12:21



God is good





The ultimate reason we must raise our boys to be good is that it reflects the character of God. His goodness is a bedrock truth of Scripture and is inseparable from his nature. If we are to be a picture of him, we must possess goodness. He is good not only in a general sense, but he is good to us and forus. This element of his character expresses his selflessness and desire to exist on behalf of others. When people are good, they act toward and for others, as opposed to losing sight of others as their own needs and desires consume them.


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