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Thursday, March 31, 2011

No Safe Haven by Kimberley and Kayla R. Woodhouse

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:

B&H Books (March 15, 2011)
***Special thanks to Julie Gwinn, Trade Book Marketing, B&H Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***


Kimberley Woodhouse is a wife, mother, writer, and musician approaching life with a positive outlook despite difficult circumstances. Her previous book,Welcome Home: Our Family’s Journey to Extreme Joy, chronicles her daughter’s extremely rare health issues and how the Woodhouses received an amazing gift through the ABC television program Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Kim and her husband have two children and live in Colorado.

Kayla Woodhouse is a teenage author whose life-altering medical condition (a nerve disorder that prevents the body from regulating its temperature or sensing pain) has not stopped her love for swimming. She is home schooled and has an adventure blog called Dragon Claws, Dog Paws, Swimming Laws.

Visit the Kim's website.

Visit the Kayla's blog.


A young widow and her physically challenged daughter survive a plane crash in the Alaskan mountains but must puzzle together how it relates to the recent death of their husband and father.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (March 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433671166
ISBN-13: 978-1433671166

My Review:
 Such a great story! It's hard to believe that someone Kayla's age did such an amazing job writing her share, but I know for a fact that she wrote all her scenes herself. I really enjoyed reading it, and I'm excited to see what happens in the next two books! Can't wait until they come out.



The plane dropped like a 3000 pound stone. 

      Jenna Tikaani-Gray braced herself with one hand, and held a warm, foam cup away from her body with the other as they jostled along. These pockets of air were turning the flight into a wild ride at the fair. Good thing she loved those rides almost as much as she loved flying, because they were dropping again. Down, then up, then down again, until the sky turned to silk and the plane sailed along.

      At least the turbulence hadn’t spilled the coffee.

      After a long, slow sip, Jenna released a sigh as their small de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, left the bowl of Anchorage, Alaska, and lifted into the clear blue sky above. The mountains around Anchorage always produced a bumpy ride, but she’d managed to pass coffee to Hank and their other passenger without mishap.

      Only one more leg of the journey and they’d be home. 

      A beautiful hand reached across the seat, welcoming her embrace, and she smiled at her twelve-year-old daughter, Andrea. Such a sweet kid. Jenna had definitely been blessed from above with her only child. Andrea had been through such trial and heartache, yet faced the world smiling.

      Jenna squeezed her daughter’s hand as the radio buzzed and crackled.

      “Juliet Kilo 3-2-6 November”--Departure Control came through the channel loud and clear.--“I’m getting no mode C on your transponder. Squawk 2-3-7-5 i-dent.”

      Hank, the pilot, replied, “Roger. Juliet Kilo 3-2-6 November i-dent…”

      “Negative radar contact. Maintain VFR. Do you have another transponder?”

      “Roger. I’ll switch to backup.”

      Jenna leaned over the side of her seat watching Hank flip the switch from transponder A to B. She waited for word from Departure Control.

      “Still negative radar contact. Can you maintain VFR?”

      “Roger that, Control. No problem.”

      That was strange. How could both transponders be malfunctioning? She furrowed her brow. When they returned to North Pole, she’d have to get it checked out. Good thing Hank was an experienced pilot. Since Marc’s death, Jenna  had hired him to pilot their plane, and knew he could handle whatever might happen.

      Andie pulled on her arm, bringing Jenna’s attention from the cockpit back to her daughter.


      “Yeah, sweetie?”

      “What does VFR mean?” Andie’s fascination was clear on her face.

      Jenna felt the tension ease from her own features as she leaned close to Andie, a little thrill rippling through her body. How she loved talking about flying. “Visual Flight Rules. Hank filed an IFR flight plan—Instrument Flight Rules—but the transponders must be malfunctioning, so the tower is instructing him to fly VFR, meaning visually. If we didn’t have a clear day, that would make flying VFR trickier, sometimes impossible.”

      “Is it safe to fly VFR?”

      Andie must have noted her reaction earlier. Jenna had never been good at hiding things from her inquisitive child.

      Jenna noticed the other passenger glance back at them from his seat next to the pilot, and she held back a frown. The rough flight could explain the man’s lack of a smile, but what caused the fierce look he shot them? Jenna cocked her head, questioning the man with her silent stare. A poke from Andie brought her back to the question.

      “Yes, sweetie. It’s perfectly safe.”

      “Just checkin’.” Andie giggled, squeezed Jenna’s hand, and turned to look out the tiny window next to her seat.

      The man watched Jenna as she faced forward once again. Something in his intense gaze pulled at her, but she couldn’t discern what. She’d been so excited about going home that she hadn’t paid attention when they were introduced. His first name was . . . Cole? Ugh. Good job remembering the details, Jenna. Marc had taught her better than that.

      Well, whether she could remember his name or not, something about this guy bothered her. She just couldn’t put her finger on what.

      Forcing herself to break the connection, she slid her chin left and tried to focus on the scenery beneath them. Greens and blues melded with the white of melting snow. This was her favorite part of flying. Watching the beauty of God’s handiwork skim below her.

      The two men up front spoke in hushed tones, bringing her attention back to their puzzling guest. Hank approached her before the flight asking if they could take another passenger, and she didn’t mind since the added income would be to her benefit. But who was this guy? And why, if he were just another tourist, was he so serious?

      Closing her eyes, Jenna attempted to dispel her concerns. Think about the amazing news from Andie’s neurosurgeon instead. The results were far beyond her expectations, and for the first time in many years Jenna allowed herself to dream big for her precious child. So much tragedy and hurt could now be replaced with hope. The future was brighter than ever.

      Instinctively, she reached for the dog tags around her neck. If only Marc could’ve been there. He’d been distraught when, as a toddler, their daughter was first diagnosed. But the additional diagnosis two years ago just about broke the man. He’d never quite recovered, and his demeanor had forever changed. The once crazy adventurer—a man full of life and laughter—closed himself behind a stone wall of protection.

      She’d fought long and hard to penetrate his defenses, but taking care of Andie had become their focus, taken all their energy. When their daughter went in for brain surgery a year ago, the walls between them finally fell as they cried and held one another in the surgical waiting room. But Jenna never had the chance to discover what drove her husband to such emotional extremes. The accident happened before Andie was released from the hospital.

      Opening her eyes, she blinked back the tears threatening to spill down her cheeks. Stop it! This is no time for tears. It’s a happy day.

      They would move on from here.

      She turned to gaze out the window. How long had she been lost in her memories? And, for that matter…where were they? Leaning closer to the glass, she searched for familiar landmarks. The scenery wasn’t right.

      Before she could open her mouth to speak to Hank, brisk movement in the cockpit drew her attention to the two men up front. Seeing a tangle of arms shoved her heart into her throat.

      Hank was fighting the passenger!

      The man grabbed Hank’s arm and—a gun! Hank had a gun!

      Before Jenna could move, Hank jerked his arm free, took aim, and shot the radio. Glancing at Andie, she ripped open her seatbelt. Her daughter’s eyes widened and her mouth hung open as Jenna yanked the belt off her and shoved her over the seat toward the rear of the plane. She climbed after her frightened child, signaling her to crouch in the floor. As Jenna hunched over her sweet daughter, she hugged her tight, whispering calming words in an attempt to shield her from the horror of the scene unfolding in front of them.

      The plane plunged and veered to the west.

      Heart thundering, Jenna monitored the scuffle through a crack between the seats and prayed for wisdom and safety. What was happening? And why? Arms wrestled and tangled—the passenger pushed upward, almost hovering over the pilot. What if he killed Hank?

      As the plane teetered and shuddered, Jenna felt the panic rise in her throat. Surely God wasn’t going to let Andie die, not after all she’d survived already. 

      The man rammed a fist into the pilot’s face. Though Hank tried to fight back, he soon crumpled under the intense blows. Hank wore an evil smirk as he croaked out the awful words: “You’ll…never make…it…alive…”

      The same fear that stole her breath rushed into the passenger’s face. What did Hank mean? Was it a threat to the passenger? Or to them all?

      Determination stretched taut over the man’s rugged features as he threw Hank to the floor behind him, and climbed into the pilot’s seat. “Tie his hands!” He tossed a small cord to Jenna.

      He fought to level off the plane, then glanced back in her direction. His breaths were ragged and his eyes bore a glassy sheen. He looked different… unfocused. Dare she depend on him? After Hank’s words, Jenna wasn’t sure about anything. It was all happening too fast.

      Grabbing Andie, she hauled herself back over the seat and fumbled with the cording. It was a good thing Hank was unconscious, as her knots needed work. She darted a glance toward the cockpit, and decided to strap Hank back in. Their landing could be really rough if this guy didn’t know what he was doing, and she wanted their former pilot to be in decent condition to go to jail.

      “Leave him!” Even though his upper lip was sweaty and he looked slightly green, his glare could burn a hole through steel. “You two buckle up!” He turned back to the controls.

      Minutes passed.

      Jenna bowed her head in prayer.

      “This may be bumpy, I don’t know…what they did to…your plane…” The man’s words grew more and more slurred. “I’m not feeling…so… hhhoo…”

      In a matter of seconds, he slid down his seat and slumped over the yoke, arms limp at his sides.

      Time stood still. She could hear her lungs taking in air, watched Andie’s eyes widen in fear, felt the plane dive forward, but Jenna couldn’t move. God, Help me! Spare my daughter, please Lord!

      Andie screamed. “Mom!”

      In a split-second, Jenna’s survival instinct kicked in. Bolting up, she grabbed Andie. “It’s going to be okay, baby.” She slid a hand down Andie’s cheek. “I need you to help me move this guy, and then I want you to grab Hank’s headset and buckle up in the co-pilot’s seat. Can you do that?”

      Without waiting for an answer, she squeezed Andie’s shoulder and climbed over seats into the cockpit. Adrenaline pumped pure strength through Jenna’s veins as she moved the bulk of the man who had tried to save them.

      Or kill them.

      She shook her head and shoved his solid, muscled frame over the seat. Jenna motioned for Andie to help strap him into another seat. Hank was sprawled, with his legs at an odd angle, but she had bigger concerns at the moment. Like landing the plane.

      Andie grabbed Hank’s headset, dashed back to the front, and climbed into the seat next to her. .

      Jenna took a deep breath and turned to the controls as Andie buckled in. She looked through the windshield--and gasped.

      Denali—“the high one”—the tallest mountain in North America, loomed before her. They shouldn’t be anywhere near the Alaska Range, and yet here they were—flying straight into the South Face.

      “Your seatbelt, Mom!”

      Jenna’s hands gripped the yoke tighter. No time for a seatbelt. She needed control of this plane.


      “It’s okay, honey. Calm down.”

      “But, Mom…” Andie gripped the headset. “Can you save us?”

      Two weeks of flight ground school and one lesson didn’t quite give Jenna the know-how she needed to get out of this alive. “I’m gonna try, Sweetie.” Oh, God! Show me what to do!

      Pulling up on the yoke, she tried to level out the small aircraft. “Honey, I need you to set those four dials on the radio controls to 1-2-1-5. That’s the emergency frequency. 1-2-1-5. Okay?”

      Andie nodded and didn’t hesitate to obey. The kid had been through brain surgery and a lifetime dealing with a rare physical condition. Her hands shook as she sucked in a deep breath and started turning the knobs. “Okay, Mom.” Nervous blue eyes met hers as she handed over the headset. “It’s set.”

      Slamming the headset onto her head, Jenna winced. Careful. Breathe. Andie’s relying on you. “Mayday! Mayday! Juliet Kilo 3-2-6 November needs emergency assistance. We have no pilot aboard capable of flying this plane. Mayday! Mayday!”

      Crackling, hissing, static, and then silence.

      “Mayday, mayday! Juliet Kilo 3-2-6 November requesting emergency assistance!”


      Andie’s sweet voice filled the cabin as reality set in. “Mom, the radio’s dead. Hank shot it. Why would he do that, Mom?” Tears quietly streamed down her daughter’s face.

      “Baby, I don’t know, but I have to try to land this plane. Put your head between your knees right now and cover your head with your arms.”

      Her brave little trooper obeyed, and Jenna prayed for guidance. Taking a firm grip on the yoke, she tried to turn the plane. The rudder barely responded. Something was wrong with the ailerons. What had she forgotten?

      Okay, Jenna, think. Cut your descent. Flaps down. What else can I do? Oh, God, help me remember! Help me think. There was no avoiding it: they were going to crash. She needed to strap herself in. Fumbling with one hand made it all the more difficult. “Andie, help me with the buckle.”

      She had to steer away from Denali. Sultana stood to her left, towering in all her glory. If she could just get close to Kahiltna glacier, she might be able to land there. But they were too high on the mountain. She’d have to find a different place and soon. With all her might, she worked the yoke to turn west, but the mountain face rushed toward her at a terrifying pace.

      Not much time left.

       Lifting the nose up, she prayed for the snow to be deep enough to cushion their landing. It was all she could do. The plane barely responded to her attempts to turn it, and they raced toward the steep mountain side.

      With one last cry for help, Jenna lurched as the plane dove toward the side of the mountain. Letting go of the yoke, she flung her arms over her daughter’s body inhaling Andie’s sweet scent: Citrus shampoo and a sweetness all her daughter. But she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the scene.

      Metal crunched. Glass shattered and peppered her arms. The plane creaked and groaned as they impacted Sultana’s unyielding side. The sound of screaming metal surrounded them, and Jenna knew. The mountain had  ripped the wings from the fuselage. Her breaths seemed hours apart as the plane pummeled the snow-packed earth underneath them.

      Another desperate prayer formed in her mind—only to be blotted out when everything went from the brilliant white of the snow to deep black. 


What’s that?

      Air crossed my face like someone breathing beside me. Then something rustled next to my hand.

        Wind. I feel wind. My thoughts began to clear. Why would I feel the wind inside an airplane? Memories flooded my head and chills raced up my spine. Something wasn’t right. I tried to shake off the foreboding, but the slight movement sent piercing pain screaming through my head.

      Ow! Okay, that’s weird. I wasn’t used to feeling pain.

      I placed a hand on my head and put slight pressure to it. Slowly, I opened my eyes.

      Oh! Bright light. Wiggling within the tight confines of my seatbelt, I just about conked my head on some sort of thingy hanging in the air above me. Everything was a blur and I felt like I was spinning. Why am I spinning? The sun shone bright, and I rubbed my eyes. The spinning stopped.


      The seat belt straps were cutting off the circulation on my shoulders and squeezing the living daylights out of my stomach. I fumbled with the straps and wrestled with the buckles. Finally, I managed to unlatch them—and fell, landing on my shoulder.


       I was on the ceiling of the plane. Hanging . . . upside down? No wonder my head hurt. I was just glad I didn’t land on it.

      I rubbed the sides of my head to try and clear my fuzzy mind, then climbed on my hands and knees through a hole that at one time must have been the windshield. Moving only made my dizziness worse.

      “Ouchy!” My head started to hurt. Really hurt. What was the weird, zinging pain? Wait…pain? Fear swirled through me like a hurricane. The last time I felt pain, they told me I needed brain surgery. Tears slid down my icy cheeks before I could stop them. Lord, please no! No. No. Not again, God I can’t handle this, it’s too much.

      Panic bubbled up inside of me. Stumbling, forcing one foot in front of the other, I kept going. I wiped away the tiny droplets feeling grit and dirt covering my face. I looked down at my upturned palms. They were covered in dirt—

      And blood.

      Lots of blood.

      Oh, great. Spots danced in front of my eyes as the dizziness overwhelmed me.

      And then there was nothing. 

The stinging on the back of my head made my eyes pop open. The sky loomed above me, and if I hadn’t known better I would have said it looked threatening. How long was I out? The pain was still there, but at least my brain wasn’t so fuzzy.

      Ok, Andrea, do something. Those words seemed to help me push myself to a sitting position. I took deep breaths to calm the shaking that had taken over my body. One more breath, then  I reached my left hand back under my long black hair to touch the scar on the back of my neck to see if it was intact. The familiar bumpy groove greeted my fingers. I pulled my hand back with a sigh, but avoided looking at it. I didn’t feel the stickiness of blood…well, not on that hand. That must mean no blood or wounds were on my scar. But my sticky right hand haunted me, as if something fierce--like a giant, abominable snowman--lay on top of the blood, waiting to gobble me up.

      The fainting happens every time. I hate blood!

      Ok, Andie, just don’t think about it.

      My surroundings came into focus. Snow, more snow, boulders, glass, the airplane… Uh-oh. The airplane. Hadn’t I been in the airplane? Or had I dreamed that? I glanced around—then wished I hadn’t.

      Some sort of big, metal part was smashed against a rock face and the tail-rudder-thingamabob had completely fallen off and lay on the other side of the crash. There was no sign of the wings and the windshield was shattered in a million pieces that lay sparkling on the snow as they reflected the sun’s light. And lying in the middle of it all . . .


      I ran over to her. She was under one of the wings. Well, partly under one of the wings, covered in blood. Lots of blood. All over her legs. Her jacket was torn and had blood on it too.

      “Mom! You have to wake up, Mom!” I shook her shoulder in an attempt to wake her. It didn’t work.

      The blood…   I pulled in air, then looked away before I threw up, and almost passed out again.  That’s when I saw the man who fought Hank.

      More blood.

      Again, I jerked away, my stomach churning. Too much. Too much fear. Too much loneliness. Too much blood. I couldn’t do it. Walking away, I trudged through the snow, and sat—well more accurately, fell—on the ground. Tears spilled down my now soggy face, quickly turning to ice and sparkling on the snow as a scratchy voice inside my head said the most awful truth.

       They’re dead. You’re all alone.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fairly Legal struggles

I watched the season finale of Fairly Legal tonight. And oddly, I'm feeling really upset about it.

I really related to the character of Kate. She's got a million things going on- personally, professionally, and emotionally, and she's trying desperately to juggle all these balls. In some ways, she manages to do so beautifully, and yet in others, she fails so completely.

In tonight's episode, on some levels professionally, she succeeded, and yet, in everything else, it was so absolutely devastating. I hated that the season finale ended with her life so in shambles. I hope that next season, we get some hope, she picks up the pieces, and triumphs.

This episode cemented my dislike of Lauren. I should do a disclaimer here and say that of all the Laurens I know, I only like one of them. She is a complete sweetheart, and I'm convinced her real first name is something like Hortense, so she goes by her middle name. Every other Lauren I know is as selfish and nasty as the Lauren in the show. Which probably has me a little more prejudiced against this Lauren. I'm glad she finally showed her true feelings, but you know, there was something in her cruelty that just got to me. I guess I kept hoping that she'd somehow turn around and be nice...

Maybe that's why it's so upsetting... don't we all know Laurens? Women who are selfish, conniving witches who will stop at nothing in their quest for power. Men, too, for that matter. Maybe I'm naive in thinking that these people will change, but they don't, do they?

I think that's why I'm thinking so hard on this that I can't sleep. I think about the people in my life who are who they are, and they're never going to be as good as I want them to be. Not that any of us are truly good, but I think we can agree that some are less so than others.

So tonight, I keep thinking about what we do with people like Lauren. I know we're supposed to love them anyway, but I don't know how. I don't know how to accept the deeper levels of selfishness. Sure, we all have it to some level- we're human. But there comes a point where we have to draw a line and say enough is enough. Or do we?

I don't have any answers. Fortunately, television tends to resolve these questions much more quickly. Maybe when next season rolls around, Lauren will get hit by a semi, and we'll get to see Kate blossom. I know, wishful thinking, and the real growth will happen as Kate maneuvers (and potentially works out) her relationship with Lauren. I'll be watching. And rooting for Kate.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Invisible World: Understanding Angels, Demons, and the Spiritual Realities That Surround Us by Anthony DeStefano

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:

Doubleday Religion (March 15, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Anthony DeStefano, a best-selling author and businessman, was raised in New York City where he attended Stuyvesant High School. He graduated summa cum laude from St. John’s University in Staten Island with a degree in Philosophy/Theology and went on to start a successful chain of electronics retail stores in New York. At the same time, he also began his writing career, writing a regular op-ed column for the Staten Island Advance.

While his business success grew, so did his love and skill for writing. In 2003, DeStefano’s first book, A Travel Guide to Heaven, was published. First released by Doubleday, the book became a bestseller and went on to be published in 16 languages and released by Random House Audio, Transworld Publishers in the United Kingdom, as well as major publishing houses in Europe, Asia, and South America. Four years later, Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To was published by Doubleday, and, in 2010, This Little Prayer of Mine and Little Star, DeStefano’s highly acclaimed children’s books, were published by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Visit the author's website.


The mystery of a spiritual world has intrigued us for ages. Is there a reality that exists beyond the senses? And can an invisible spiritual world actually become visible? Best-selling author Anthony DeStefano answers yes with certainty. The Invisible World: Understanding Angels, Demons, and the Spiritual Realities That Surround Us explores the existence and meaning of this unseen, yet very real world.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Religion (March 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385522231
ISBN-13: 978-0385522236

I thought this was a really interesting book. It gave me a lot to think about in terms of the invisible world and the various powers at work. I definitely believe in the invisible workings that he talks about and really appreciated the reminders that we do need to be aware that there is a lot more going on in the spiritual realm than we're aware of. However, I took issue with some things, like having our own personal angels and the idea of what Heaven and Judgment will look like. Mostly because he didn't really give any reason other than saying "this is so" and I would have been better persuaded by evidence of some sort. Where did he get those ideas? What place in Scripture does it say that?

I'm not saying this is a bad book- I enjoyed it very much. But I do think there are places that don't seem to have evidence to support what he's saying. So I think those are areas where you have to say, "huh, that's a nice idea," and move on. And, it's a great opportunity to take those questions and evaluate them in conversation with God.

All in all, I enjoyed the book. It was an interesting read, and it gave me some good things to think about.

The Haunt Detector

Everybody has one. The Reverend Frank Pavone used to call it the Haunt Detector. What is it?

Very simply, it’s the little alarm that goes off in our heads whenever we detect that something mysterious or supernatural has occurred. Science fiction and horror writers have referred

to it by other names— the sixth sense, the shining. But for some reason, I’ve always liked “haunt detector” best.

We actually have all kinds of “detecting”  mechanisms built into our nervous systems. They don’t have fancy scientific names, but they exist nonetheless. For instance, we all have “lie detectors.” When someone who’s not very slick tries to scam us, we’re usually able to tell just from their body language and their voice. We all have “love detectors.” We can just feel it in our bones when someone has deep feelings of attachment for us—or when they don’t. We all have “right and wrong” detectors—better known as consciences. When we do something not quite right, we know it because we feel an unmistakable pang of guilt. And, of course, we all have “sex detectors,” which let us know pretty quickly when we’re physically attracted to another person.

Well, we all have “haunt detectors,”  too. And they let us know whenever something especially eerie or out of the ordinary is happening around us. You know the kind of thing. You could be

sitting around relaxing one day at home, and for no special reason you start thinking about someone. Maybe you haven’t thought about this particular person in years. Then the phone

rings; you pick it up, and, amazingly, it’s that person! Many of us have experienced this phenomenon. What is it?

I’ll never forget something that happened to my mother many years ago. It was the middle of the night and she was sleeping soundly. Suddenly she woke up and bolted upright in bed. She had heard the sound of her own mother’s voice calling out to her in a thick Italian accent: “Laura, Laura, help me.” My mother was startled and her heart was racing; she had clearly heard her name spoken. But it couldn’t be her mother calling; she lived on the other side of Brooklyn, and it was so late. My mother thought that perhaps it was just a bad dream so she went back to sleep. But the next morning she received a phone call from the hospital. Her mother had gotten up to go to the bathroom during the night and had fallen. She was in the hospital with a broken hip. For hours she had been on the floor, moaning for help. How in the world did my mother hear her?

Was it just a coincidence?

Then there are stories that are totally unexplainable. I read a newspaper account a few years ago about a four-year-old girl in upstate New York who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

The whole community had been praying fervently for her. All the churches in the neighborhood—Lutheran, Evangelical, Catholic—were all united in prayer that a miracle would take place. The little girl had been through so much: she’d had more than twenty MRIs, and it was decided that the only remaining course of action was brain surgery. She wasn’t even expected to make it through the operation, but it was the only chance she had. The day of the surgery her head was shaved, her blood was taken, she was hooked up to all kinds of machines, and the team of doctors scrubbed and put on their surgical gowns. One final MRI had to be done to determine the exact location of the tumor. Just before the child was wheeled into the testing room, a sweet, pretty young nurse came in and took her hand. She told the little girl not to worry because she was “all better,” that God had “cured” her and that she would be going home soon. The little girl later said that the nurse was so nice to her and so “beautiful” that she felt all warm and peaceful inside.

When the MRI was taken, the lab technicians gasped in disbelief. No matter how hard they searched, they couldn’t locate the tumor. They took more tests, but the results were the same. The tumor was gone. No surgery was performed that day—or any day—because there was nothing to operate on. The little girl was completely healed. What happened? And who was the mysterious woman who came in and told the girl she was cured? None of the other nurses could identify her and no one ever saw her again. Was she an angel, as some in the little girl’s family believed? No one knows for sure. But everyone, from the doctors to the lab technicians to the parents to the people in the community, was aware that something incredible had taken place. Everyone’s haunt detectors went off at once.

Of course, not all mysterious experiences are as strange as this. A person’s haunt detector can begin registering at any time. You can be listening to a powerful piece of music or watching a spectacular sunset; reading a particularly moving piece of literature or worshipping at church. You can be embracing the person you love most in the world or sitting in your home, cozy and warm by the fire. Or you can just be walking down the street thinking about all the things in your life that have brought you to where you are. You can be doing any of these things, and out of nowhere a tingle will suddenly run up your spine, telling you that something more is going on than meets the eye. Something that transcends understanding.

What is it? No one really knows. But it invariably triggers a feeling deep in your soul— a feeling of desire, of yearning, of hope; hope that there is something special about life; that there is some hidden meaning and purpose to all the suffering we have to go through; that there is something beyond science, beyond the senses—something totally invisible yet totally real. In Latin, the experience is called mysterium tremendum et fascinans. And our haunt detectors can sense it.

Of course, we have to be careful when trying to discern the meaning of such feelings and phenomena. Spiritual people are sometimes too quick to attribute the cause of strange occurrences to God; they’re too hasty in coming to the conclusion that just because something seems unexplainable it must have a divine or supernatural origin. That simply isn’t the case. Many amazing things that happen in this world aren’t “miraculous” at all. It’s a fact, for example, that human beings have all kinds of natural abilities that are untapped; abilities that are only now being identified and studied by science. We’ve all heard about mothers and fathers who display superhuman strength when trying to rescue their children from harm. We’ve all seen examples of people with severe learning disabilities who are able to sit down at a piano without any formal training and play the most complicated pieces of classical music. The human brain is

an incredible organ and has many powers that still aren’t fully understood. Because of this, it’s extremely difficult for us to tell what’s natural, what’s supernatural, what’s legitimately from

God, what’s from the devil, and what’s just plain old human imagination. Practically everything that happens in life is subject to misinterpretation. That’s why it’s so dangerous to become fixated on the supernatural. Too often it leads to superstition or belief in the occult or false spirituality or even—in extreme cases—insanity.

We just can’t afford to make blind assumptions. We have to seek the expert guidance of doctors, psychologists, scientists, theologians, and church leaders. But neither can we dismiss all these remarkable experiences as mere fantasy. And that’s what many people do today. Not only do they reject what’s fanciful and frivolous— they reject everything. They throw the baby out

with the bathwater. They claim that there is no reality other than the reality of the senses, the reality of the material world. In many ways this is an even greater mistake. After all, it’s one

thing to be cautious and discerning when it comes to spiritual matters; it’s quite another to deny the existence of the spiritual realm altogether.

If we do that, we risk falling into what has been called the “superstition of materialism,” the myth that this world is made up of physical objects and nothing else; that everything in life—our thoughts, our emotions, our hopes, our ambitions, our passions, our memories, our philosophies, our politics, our beliefs in God and salvation and damnation—that all of this is purely the result of biochemical reactions and the movement of molecules in our brain. What nonsense!

We can’t reduce the whole of reality to what our senses tell us for the simple reason that our senses are notorious for lying to us. Our senses tell us that the world is fl at, yet it’s not. Our

senses tell us that the world is chaotic, yet we know that on both a micro and a macro level, it’s incredibly organized. Our senses tell us that we’re stationary, yet we’re really moving at

dizzying speeds. Right now, for instance, you’re sitting down quietly reading this book; but did you know that you’re actually traveling at twenty thousand miles per hour? That’s the rate at which the earth and the entire galaxy are racing through space. Can you feel or see that motion in any way? Of course not. It’s completely invisible to your senses. In fact, the only reason that you’re not physically hurled into orbit right now is because another invisible force—gravity—is holding you in place. There are all kinds of unseen forces and laws that govern the universe. They’re all invisible—and they’re all very real.

The most important things in life can’t be seen with the eyes. Ideas can’t be seen. Love can’t be seen. Honor can’t be seen. This isn’t a new concept. Judaism and Christianity and Islam and Buddhism and Taoism have all taught for thousands of years that the highest forms of reality are invisible. God is invisible, and he created the universe. Our souls are invisible, and they give life to our bodies. Angels are invisible, and they’re the most powerful of God’s creatures.

Are these unseen realities difficult for us to grasp? Of course. When the alarm clock goes off in the morning and we stumble out of bed to shower and dress and go to work, it’s hard for us to focus on anything so intangible as the spiritual realm. After all, how can we hope to find an invisible God when we sometimes have trouble finding the milk in the refrigerator when it’s staring us right in the face? C. S. Lewis said that human beings find it almost impossible to “believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is before their eyes.” One of the great psychological obstacles to having a strong faith is the very “ordinariness” of life.

In the first chapter of The Screwtape Letters, Lewis writes about the diabolical strategy that an invisible demon uses on an old, hardened atheist. The atheist, for the first time in his life, is

starting to ask himself questions about the existence of God. The demon naturally wants to prevent this. But rather than waste his time arguing with the man about theology, the demon

plants the suggestion in the atheist’s mind to go out and have some lunch. Once in the street, the atheist sees the newspaper boy and the taxis going by and a thousand other small details. With that healthy dose of “real life” he doesn’t even bother continuing his search for God. After all, in light of all those clear, crisp, ordinary realities, how could there be any such nebulous thing as metaphysical truth?

We face the same danger. Because we’re so familiar with desks and chairs and pots and pans and cell phones and video games, it can be a real challenge for us to think about spiritual matters. Our haunt detectors can become so dulled and rusty from disuse that they hardly register any kind of invisible activity except the most extraordinary. The end result is that, although we may not become full-fledged atheists, we can actually begin behaving as if we were. Without even realizing it, a giant gap can form between what we profess to believe and how we go about acting in our everyday lives.

We all know how true this is. We say we believe in the Bible and the moral law, but then we have trouble going even a few weeks without breaking most of the Ten Commandments. We

say we believe in the power of prayer and God’s grace, but few of us actually turn to God unless we’re in some sort of a jam. We act this way partly because of human nature. But it’s also because the temptations we face seem so real, while the world of the spirit seems so hazy and unreal by comparison. In this hedonistic society of ours, in which we’re confronted every day

by thousands of images designed to appeal to our sensual appetites, it’s very easy to be seduced. When a woman who loves chocolate passes a Godiva shop and sees a window full of delicious

truffles, caramels, and other assorted treats, it’s hard for her to consider the spiritual value of fasting or the Christian belief that the body is the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” When a man with a healthy libido strolls down the streets of lower Manhattan on a sultry summer afternoon and is confronted by a parade of sexy, scantily clad women, it’s tough for him to think about formless beings like angels. What are visible to him at that moment—the shapely forms enticing his senses—are just too much for him to resist. The spiritual world doesn’t seem to stand a chance.

And that’s where this book comes in. What I’d like to do in the following pages is attempt to render that spiritual world a bit more clearly for you. I’d like to try to make the invisible realities

that surround us just a little more visible. My hope is that, by doing this, these realities won’t seem so unfamiliar in the future. And the more familiar they are, the easier it will be to understand them and to have absolute faith in their existence. Once you’re armed with that kind of certitude, three things will naturally happen: (1) It will be easier for you to act in sync with your moral beliefs; (2) your life will be much fuller, richer, and more exciting than you ever imagined possible; and (3) no amount of suffering—physical, mental, or emotional—will ever be able to destroy the profound inner sense of peace that you’ll experience on a daily basis.

Big promises, I know. But that’s how important this subject is.

So how does one go about making the invisible visible? Well, as I said, there’s an extraordinarily rich theology from which we can draw. The traditional Judeo- Christian view of the invisible

world has been largely displaced by a kind of fortune cookie philosophy of life that’s neither truly believable nor truly remarkable. Just browse through the New Age section of your local bookstore and you’ll see what I mean. This book is not going to be like that. It’s not going to be about vampires or gremlins or ghosts or leprechauns or psychics or poltergeists or palm readers or UFOs or fairies or the “Force.” This book is about reality— cold, hard reality.

In fact, one of the great things about the invisible realm is that you don’t have to be a “religious fanatic” or the follower of some cult to believe in it. You can be a level- headed pragmatist.

You can be a realist. You can even be a cynic. You certainly don’t have to check your brains at the door before entering this world. And you don’t have to be afraid that deep thinking is going to nullify what you learn there. Indeed, everything we’re going to talk about in this book is based on solid theology, informed by common sense and logic, and backed up by biblical scholarship and the universal teaching of the Christian church over the past two thousand years.

No less a genius than Albert Einstein once said: “The most beautiful thing we can experience in life is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: for his eyes are closed.”

Too many people go through life today with their eyes closed. They miss out on the mysterious because they’re so fixated on what they can see and smell and touch and taste and hear. They’re so steeped in the “superstition of materialism” that they’re totally blind to the existence of another world—a world that is radically different from the one they’re familiar with, but a world nonetheless.

What kind of world is it? I’ve said that this book is not about make- believe; it’s not going to be some kind of Peter Pan–style fairy tale. Yet I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that the hidden world God has created for us is more marvelous and exciting than a thousand Neverlands. It’s a world filled with miracles, a world in which all the actions you take and decisions you make have spiritual consequences—consequences that affect the lives of millions of human beings. A world in which the men and women you meet on the street are never “ordinary”—because they all have immortal, everlasting souls and are destined to be either saints in Heaven or the damned of hell. A world in which a deadly, invisible, and diabolical war has been raging for eons—a war infinitely more terrifying than any started by Hitler, Stalin, or Osama bin Laden. A world where the highest values are completely opposite those of our secular society—where weakness equals strength, sacrifice equals salvation, and suffering equals unlimited power. Finally, it’s a world in which you’re never really alone, for even when you’re by yourself watching TV or reading

a book, taking a walk or sitting at the table having breakfast, you have company— because you’re surrounded by angels. Let’s try for a few minutes to “see” this incredible world. Not

with the eyes in your head, but with the eyes in your soul. All you really have to do is take a deep breath, shake off the stresses and cares that normally consume you, find a place where you

can concentrate in quiet stillness, and do your best to keep an open mind. For just a little while, follow the biblical injunction to “walk by faith and not by sight.”

And if—as you’re reading—you happen to feel a tingle up your spine or experience the eerie sensation that something beyond your comprehension is taking place, don’t get alarmed. It’s

just your haunt detector going off—telling you that the veil that has covered God’s hidden creation from time immemorial is being pulled back ever so slightly, allowing you a chance to peek inside.

Don’t be afraid to look. Believe me—you’ll be amazed by what you see.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On the positive side...

I was thinking about this in the car earlier, that I'm so focused on the challenges of my little one and wanting to invest in her that I haven't taken the time to also say what a wonderful girl she is. A friend of mine cautioned me against calling her "the bad child" and I really don't, but I do think that sometimes my stress over her behavior makes her think that.

Several months ago, while she was in a self-pity phase, she decided I didn't love her (because she didn't get dessert), then proceeded to tell me everything I've ever done to make her feel unloved. The one thing that has stuck with me is that she noticed that when I get really frustrated with her, I sigh, and it hurts her feelings. I realized today in the car that I've been sighing a lot lately.

So have I been telling her that she's the bad child? In words, no. But my every sigh makes her think that I don't love her, and that bothers me. I need to learn a better way of expelling my frustration (and really, those deep breaths and long exhales do give me the strength for some of these rough moments) so that she doesn't feel like she's my problem child.

Yes, we are going through a really rough phase right now. But I love her, and I am committed to working through it and helping her grow through whatever this is. The good news is (and this is for all of you who keep telling me I beat myself up too much) that we have been talking to professionals, all of whom have said that we're doing the right things. I have to hold on to that hope, then take a deep breath (without sighing) and push through.

On good days, she makes me smile in ways no one else can. When she's in the right mood, she's a great cuddler. Sometimes, when all of her brain cylinders are firing right, I see glimpses of an amazing person. She is also incredibly intelligent, probably why this journey is so hard- she's too smart for her own good. Her laugh is one of the most beautiful sounds I've ever heard. I love her smile. There's a lot of good inside her, and I kind of hope that she becomes the kind of evil genius we see in Megamind. At some point, we'll take all those wonderful powers and qualities and channel them for good. Oops, I forgot to say, "code."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I am a slacker of a blogger

And I have a million reasons why, but I'm here now, so I'm calling it happy.

The daughter project is going as well as can be expected. In my struggle, I've thought up the following new slogans:

Crack kills, but it's better than killing your daughter.
Crack kills, but so does having children.
There are worse things than smoking crack, but I can't think of any.

Okay, fine, I haven't smoked any crack. And okay, fine, I don't plan on it. I'm not sure I'd even know where to get it if I did.

The professionals (who I think would agree that I should start smoking crack) all agree that there is currently nothing to be concerned about and she will grow out of this stage. I may not have any hair left and the rest will be grayer than Father Time, but we will get through it.

So that's this week's update. For now.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I'm not a slacker of a mom, so hahaha

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

My Lent project with my 6yo is um... going. I'm also not beating myself up over it.

I realized that I need to give myself a break when it comes to her. I mean, what other kid has a parent DEVOTING her Lent to figuring out how to help her daughter and connect with her? Don't answer that question if you know of anyone else who is. Let me have my moment.

I will say, for those keeping score, I have been remembering to give my daughter her vitamins every morning before school, AND I have noticed that giving her fish oil every morning has really helped her performance and behavior. So take that!

Today, I had an acupuncture appointment, and she gave me some homeopathic stuff to give to my kiddo. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I am strongly opposed to medicating children, which is why I'm sort of glad (even though I'd really like to know what her deal is) no one will diagnose her. I have a feeling that the logical diagnosis will turn into a long debate with school and medical officials about the fact that I don't want to give my kid drugs. So it's weird that I'm now considering this homeopathic stuff. Granted, it's not like I'm putting speed in my kid, and it is all natural stuff, so maybe it's really not as bad as I think it is. I just really want her brain to develop and for her to learn how to control her behavior without turning her into a zombie.

I'm still not spending the kind of time with her that I'd like, but tonight I'm going to a girl's night out and bringing her along. No, it's not one on one time, but I think she'll have more fun (okay, I KNOW she'll have more fun, because there will be babies present, and she loves babies), and it'll make her feel like a grown up to get to come to mommy's grown up activity.

Is anyone else making progress on their Lenten project? If you're feeling like you're slacking, what can you do to not feel like so much of a slacker?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sometimes, just not going backward is progress

On the daughter Lenten project front, I have nothing to report. She hasn't done anything else to drive me nuts, and the school hasn't called, so I'm calling it good.

Of course, I haven't done anything to move forward, either.

Still, I'm counting it as a victory.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Taking my Lenten project to the mall

One of my friends suggested that since my 6yo is my Lenten project, I should do something special with her every day during Lent. I'm not sure I will survive this project.

Tonight's bonding with the 6yo included meeting up with my BFF and her daughter, who is the 6yo's BFF. We went to the kids' art show, and then to the mall.

Now, I've taken the 6yo to the mall just the two of us. I've even taken her to the mall with my 10yo. But let me say this... taking the 6yo with her BFF is a nightmare that should never be repeated. Us moms (is that grammatically correct? I'm too tired to think) even armed ourselves with margaritas. True story. We had dinner at one of the restaurants in the mall at the beginning of our adventure, so we had margaritas (really yummy ones too!). It didn't help.

As we watched the two little girls swinging their arms back and forth, we both agreed that maybe taking the BFFs to the mall hadn't been the best of ideas for the moms, but those girls sure did have a good time. Even though we didn't succumb to a single "buy me this," the girls loved it. That said, I don't think either of the moms will be brave enough to take the little girls to the mall again anytime soon. Maybe after a few more margaritas and twenty years, we'll try it again.

Rest assured that tomorrow's project with the 6yo will not involve malls, or probably anyplace public. I may have to call it a success if we both survive the day. Her room is an incredible mess and she's already been warned that she will not be allowed to anything until said room is clean. Ah, such is the glamorous life of the mother of my daughter.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lenten intentions

Well, it's the second day of Lent and I've already blown it. Well, I think I blew it before Lent started.

My original plan for Lent was that I was going to go through Mike Bickle's Song of Songs teaching and really spend Lent on focusing on God's love for us, more specifically, God's love for me. After all, isn't that truly what the sacrifice is about?

I was even going to do it interactively on my blog, and invite my readers to participate.

Only... the 6yo happened. We've had a rough year, well, probably longer than that, with her. The past couple of months, her behavior, particularly at school, has gotten worse. We're back to weekly phone calls from the school. I am incredibly worried about her, and while the school is concerned, they keep telling me that they aren't worried because she has great parents. Ugh. So that's the short version.

How it relates to Lent and my change of plans is this:

Last year, I went to an amazing Ash Wednesday service with my friend Kay Day at her old church. LOVED it. Decided that it would be my tradition every year moving forward. Only with the mess with my 6yo made me forget to arrange things with Kay, so then I decided I'd just go by myself. Only THEN... due to ANOTHER situation at school, I ended up spending my Ash Wednesday morning dealing with my 6yo. And there I was, driving in traffic, passing all these churches with Ash Wednesday signs, 6yo in my car whining about something, and I was mad. Mad that I didn't get to do my church tradition because my 6yo was being a royal pain. Why was God making me deal with her and not get to spend time with Him?

And then it hit me. Here I am, with this little girl who needs her mom to love on her and minister to her, and all I was worried about was how I didn't get to go to my church service. That sounded a lot more like being a Pharisee than a Christian to me. God doesn't care whether or not I go to Ash Wednesday service at this church that I love. He does care if I'm being loving and not resentful toward my daughter.

So this Lent, I am not focusing on me. At least not directly. It's going to be about focusing on my daughter. I haven't completely figured out what that looks like yet, but I do know that it's going to be about giving up some of those moments of "me" so that I can focus on her. No, I'm not going to take it to the extreme of turning her into a pampered little princess. But I am going to look deeper into my priorities to see where they need to be aligned differently. Which is weird, and I never thought I'd go there, especially now, when I am devoting more time than ever to her care, but I want her to be a joy again.

Yes, I know, in the end, this will benefit me. But mostly, I want this time to benefit her. I harbor no illusions that this will "fix" her. I was told yesterday that one (out of many) of her issues will likely take months to fix. I suspect that most of what we're dealing with is just who she is, and in this, we're going to have to find a way to balance the accepted norms of behavior with the fact that she dances to her own song in her own time. Because that's how God made her.

Anyone else finding Lent to be especially challenging this year?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The 5 Dreams of Every Woman…and How God Wants to Fulfill Them by Sharon Jaynes

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 (March 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Christianne Debysingh, Senior Publicist, Harvest House Publishersfor sending me a review copy.***


Sharon Jaynes is an international inspirational speaker and Bible teacher for women’s conferences and events. She is also the author of several books, including Becoming the Woman of His Dreams and Becoming Spiritually Beautiful. Sharon and her husband, Steve, have one grown son, Steven, and live in North Carolina.

Visit the author's website.


Popular author Sharon Jaynes shares powerful stories alongside biblical, compassionate guidance to help restore women’s hope in love, marriage, motherhood, purpose, and more. Readers will learn to give their longings and brokenness to God and delight in His renewal and remarkable dreams for them. Study questions included.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736929398
ISBN-13: 978-0736929394

My Review:
 I tend to be mistrustful of any title that talks about "every woman" because I usually don't relate to those books. Then I get mad because an author has put me into an "every woman" basket that I don't fit in. However, this book was different. I definitely related to a lot of what she has written. I'm not quite finished with this book, since it came last week and I read nonfiction a lot slower than fiction. But I have enjoyed the book so far. I love how she takes the idea of a woman's dream, then takes a look at how God fulfills that dream through His word. It's a great perspective, and I think even if someone looks at one of the five dreams and says, "nope, never had that one," there's still a lot of good Biblical teaching that applies.


To Have a Daddy Who Loves Me

  Once upon a time, not so very long ago or far away, a baby girl was born to parents who could not keep her. While neither parent was willing to release her for adoption, neither was able to care for her. So while the legal system shuffled her case back and forth, the baby girl grew into a toddler in a foster home.

  Her care was adequate. Her physical needs were met, and she never went hungry. Her clothes, though not new, were never dirty. Her toys, though not her own, were always sufficient. This little girl was not mistreated or abused, and yet in her heart was a hollow space. She desperately wanted what she had never had—a mommy and a daddy of her very own.

  Only a few doors down from the foster home lived a kind couple with a teenage son. The little girl needed a family, the family wanted a little girl, and the details of a trying and lengthy adoption were finally settled. And while this little girl received a wonderful mommy and an adoring big brother, it was her daddy and their relationship that was extra special.

  Ashley was two years old when she entered her daddy’s life. She was thin, pale, and clingy. By the time the adoption was finally complete, she was almost three. Ashley had never seen the ocean, eaten a Happy Meal, or slept in a bed in a room of her own.

  A few months after the adoption, Ashley traveled to the beach for her first family reunion. She was overwhelmed with excitement and pride. She had received so much so fast, and it was hard to take it all in. Ashley asked everyone she met if they were part of her family.

  “Are you my aunt?” “Are you my uncle?” “Are you my cousin?” She ran from person to person showering hugs and kisses on her newly acquired family. “I love you!” she told them. “I love you all!”

  When her new daddy took her to McDonald’s for the first time, Ashley couldn’t join in with the other children who played busily on the playground equipment. She was too busy asking important questions. “Do you have a daddy? I have a daddy! See, that’s my daddy over there,” she exclaimed with excitement and wonder. “Isn’t he wonderful?”

  “What’s your name?” she asked. “My name is Ashley Jordan AMBROSE—just like my daddy. I’m named after my daddy!”

  Five years later, tanned, transformed, and confident, Ashley again returned to the annual family reunion. This time she brought a scrapbook of pictures to share with anyone who would sit still long enough to listen.

  “This is my story,” she would say. “See, this is where I lived before Mommy and Daddy adopted me. They picked me out special. See, this is my room now—it’s all my own. And these are my toys, and my own clothes, and here’s a picture of my kitty and one of my dog and…”

  Ashley has love overflowing for just about everyone, but no one is higher on her list than her daddy. He knows how to polish toenails, drip sandcastles, tie hair ribbons, hold her in the night—and he calls her his “little Princess.”**

My Dream

  When I was a little girl, my father spent most of his waking hours working at his building supply company, observing construction sites, or socializing with his colleagues and associates. Even though his place of business was only a few blocks from our home, his heart was miles away in a place I could never find.

  My father didn’t drink alcohol every day, but when he did, it consumed him. Dad was filled with a rage that always seemed to be boiling just beneath the surface of his tough exterior. When he drank, that rage spewed out like hot lava onto those around him. Unfortunately, my mother was the most common target.

  As a child, many nights I crawled into bed, pulled the covers tightly under my chin or even over my head, and prayed that I would quickly fall asleep to shut out the noise of my parents yelling and fighting. Crashing furniture, smashing glass, and fist upon flesh were common sounds that pierced my little girl nights. Occasionally I’d tiptoe over to my pink ballerina jewelry box, wind up the key in the back, open the lid, and try to focus on the tinkling melody that came from the music box as the dancer twirled with hands overhead. I wanted to be wherever she was…anywhere but at home.

  I was afraid of my father. Even when he was sober I kept my distance. At the same time, I observed how other daddies cherished their little girls. I saw daddies snuggle their daughters in their laps, hold their hands while walking in the park, or kiss their cheeks as they dropped them off at school in the mornings. Deep in my heart, a dream was birthed. I dreamed that one day I would have a daddy who loved me like that—not because I was pretty or made good grades or could play the piano well, but just because I was his. I dreamed that one day I would be a cherished daughter and the apple of my daddy’s eye.

A Common Dream

  In talking to women all across the country, I have seen eyes fill with tears when I talk about the dream of having a daddy who loves me. But the tears are not for me. Those tears reveal the longing in their own hearts. “Butterfly Kisses,” a popular song by Bob Carlisle, is about the tender love between a father and his daughter, starting from her birth to her wedding day. Mr. Carlisle said, “I get a lot of mail from young girls who try to get me to marry their moms. That used to be a real chuckle because it’s so cute, but then I realized they didn’t want romance for mom. They want the father that is in that song, and that just kills me.”  

  What did the little girls long for? They wanted a daddy to scoop them up in his strong arms. They wanted to plant butterfly kisses on his scruffy face. They wanted to see tears in his eyes when he walked them down their aisle on their wedding day. Little girls and grown women alike long for a father to protect them, help them, guide them, nurture them, and cheer them on through the struggles of life.

The Invitation

  In the Old Testament, God has many names. He is Elohim, the Creator; El Elyon, God Most High; El Roi, the God who sees; El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One; Adonai, the Lord; Jehovah, the Self-Existent One; Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide; Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord who heals; Jehovah-Shalom, the Lord is peace; Jehovah-Raah, the Lord my Shepherd; and many more. His covenant name with the people of Israel was I am.

  In the New Testament, Jesus introduced a new name for God: Father. In the Gospel of John alone, God is referred to as Father at least 120 times. It is the name Jesus referred to more than any other, and the name He invites us to use to address the Creator of the universe. Just stop and think about that for a moment. The God of the universe, who created the heavens and the earth, who always has been and always will be, who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and present everywhere at once—that same God invites you to call Him Abba Father. He invites you to call Him Daddy!

  When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He said:

When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:6-9, emphasis added).

  J.I. Packer wrote: “For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new and better than the Old, everything that is distinctly Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the fatherhood of God.   All other religions demand followers to worship created beings, such as Mohammad or Buddha, but God invites us to crawl up in His lap, become His child, and call Him Father. He said, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:18, emphasis added).

The Only Perfect Parent

  For many, the idea of God being their father may not be a pleasant one. We have a human tendency to project our experiences with our earthly fathers onto our perceptions of the fatherhood of God. Some never knew their earthly fathers, some had abusive fathers, and some were deserted by their fathers. Some had loving, endearing fathers, and some lost their fathers to sickness or catastrophe. Those life experiences tend be the lens through which we view God.

  Even the best earthly fathers have feet of clay and will disappoint their children.

  When I was a child, I never had lengthy conversations with my father. As a result, when I became a Christian, it was very difficult for me to have lengthy conversations with my heavenly Father. Prayer was difficult. I had to remove the mask of my earthly father from the face of God.

  No matter what your past experience with your earthly father has been, your heavenly Father is the perfect parent. He loves you unconditionally, cares for you completely, provides for you unceasingly, trains you tenderly, and welcomes you unreservedly. He will never leave you or forsake you. You are the apple of His eye.

The Amazing Grace of Adoption

  One reason Ashley’s story at the beginning of this chapter is so precious to me is because she was adopted by a loving father…so much like you and me. The Bible says we have been adopted into God’s family (Ephesians 1:5). We are His children (1 John 3:1-2). Let’s take a look at how adoption was carried out in Jesus’ day in order to get a better picture of ours.

  In ancient Rome, fathers chose a child for adoption when they weren’t able to have children of their own. They adopted a son in order to have someone to carry on the family name and inherit their property. It was a legally binding relationship. All ties to the child’s natural family were severed. The child was placed in a new family with the same prestige and privileges as a natural child, including becoming an heir. If the child had any debt, it was immediately canceled. The adoption was a sealed process with many witnesses making it official.  

  In modern times, when it comes to adoption, we tend to think of adopting a baby. However, in biblical times adoption usually took place after the child was older and had proved worthy to carry on the family name.   How incredible that our heavenly Father chose us, not because of any merit of our own, but before the beginning of time. He chose us, not because we were worthy, but in spite of the fact that we were not.

He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves (Ephesians 1:4-6).

  I love Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of that same verse found in The Message:

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!)

  Our adoption takes place the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Our debt because of sin is canceled (paid in full), and we are placed in God’s family to carry on His name and become an heir. Paul wrote: “You also were included in Christ [in His family] when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

  Many verses refer to God’s children as “sons.” This does not mean God only has male children or that only male children inherit the kingdom of God. The Hebrew word for “son” does not necessarily mean male offspring. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word ben can mean male son or children of both genders, male or female. Genesis 1 says that God created man in His own image. Then the writer goes on to say, “Male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). As the word “man” can mean male or female humans, the word “son” can mean the male or female offspring of a human.

  In the New Testament Greek, the word huios is translated “son.” And like the Hebrew word ben, it can mean a male child or it can refer to offspring, both male and female. “In calling believers His sons, God is communicating that believers find their origin in Him (as offspring) and bear the same nature He does.”   The apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28).

  In J.I. Packer’s words: “Adoption is a family idea, conceived in terms of love, and viewing God as father. In adoption, God takes us into His family and fellowship, and establishes us as His children and heirs. Closeness, affection, and generosity are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with God the judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the father is greater.”  

  I grew up singing “Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so,” but I really didn’t believe it. I wasn’t sure God even liked me. It wasn’t until I was much older that I caught a glimpse of His unconditional, unfailing, unlimited love for me.

He Loves You Unconditionally

  Most of us live in a world of performance-based acceptance. We make good grades, and Mommy is proud. We look pretty, and Daddy smiles. We do a good job at work, and the boss is pleased. We serve at church, and the congregation thinks we are “good Christians.”

  Unfortunately, that same sense of having to perform well to be accepted by people can easily roll over into our relationship with God. We falsely believe we must perform well to be loved and accepted by Him when nothing could be further from the truth. As a result, we strive to obtain something that we already have…God’s unconditional love.

  Anabel Gillham was a woman who loved God, but she had trouble accepting that God could love her. She knew the Bible verses that talked of God’s unconditional love for her, yet she knew herself and doubted a God who knew her innermost thoughts would approve of her.

  The root of her problem was how she viewed God and how she believed God viewed her. She knew what kind of God He was. She read Exodus 34:6: “Then the Lord passed by in front of him [Moses] and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth…’ ” (nasb), but she believed she had to earn that love. Then God used a very special person to help Anabel understand the depths of God’s love for her—her second child, Mason David Gillham, who had a profound mental disability. Let’s let Anabel tell you her story as she relates it in her book, The Confident Woman.

Mace could sing one song with great gusto, just one: “Jesus Loves Me.” He would throw his head back and hold on to the first “Yes” in the chorus just as long as he could, and then he would get tickled and almost fall out of his chair. I can still hear him giggle when I think back on those days that seem so distant and so far away. How poignant that memory is to me.

I never doubted for a moment that Jesus loved that profoundly retarded little boy. It didn’t matter that he would never sit with the kids in the back of the church and on a certain special night walk down the aisle, take the pastor by the hand, and invite Jesus into his heart. It was entirely irrelevant that he could not quote a single verse of Scripture, that he would never go to high school, or that he would never be a dad. I knew that Jesus loved Mason.

What I could not comprehend, what I could not accept, was that Jesus could love Mason’s mother, Anabel. You see, I believed that in order for a person to accept me, to love me, I had to perform for him. My standard for getting love was performance based, so I “performed” constantly, perfectly. In fact, I did not allow anyone to see me when I was not performing perfectly. I never had any close friends because I was convinced that if a person ever really got to know me, he wouldn’t like me.  

  Anabel carried that belief into her relationship with God, and she was horrified to learn that He knew her every thought, let alone everything she said or did (Psalm 139:1-4). She realized God knew her completely. He saw when she wasn’t “performing perfectly.” Because of her perception of performance-based acceptance, she concluded without a doubt that God could not possibly love her, that He could never like what He saw in her.

  Mace could never have performed for his parents’ love, or for anyone’s love, but oh, how they loved him. His condition deteriorated to such a degree—and so rapidly—that they had to place him in an institution when he was very young. His parents enrolled him in the Enid State School for Mentally Handicapped Children. They regularly drove the 120 miles to see him, but they occasionally also brought him home for a visit.

  On one particular visit, Mace had been with them since Thursday evening. On the following Saturday afternoon God painted a vivid picture of His great love for Anabel through Mason. She was standing at the kitchen sink, dreading what lay ahead. In just a few moments, she would be gathering Mace’s things together and taking him back to “his house.” She had done this many times before—and it was never easy—but today God had something in mind that would change her life forever.

  As she was washing the dishes, Mason was sitting in his chair watching her, or at least he was looking at her. That’s when it began. Her emotions were spinning. Her stomach started tumbling with the familiar sickening thoughts of packing up Mason’s toys and clothes and taking him away again. She stopped washing the dishes and went down on her knees in front of Mace. Anabel took his dirty little hands in hers and tried desperately to reach him.

  “Mason, I love you. I love you. If only you could understand how much I love you.”

  He just stared. He couldn’t understand; he didn’t comprehend. She stood up and started on the dishes again, but that didn’t last long. This sense of urgency—almost a panic—came over her, and once more she dried her hands and knelt in front of her precious little boy.

  “My dear Mason, if only you could say to me, ‘I love you, Mother.’ I need that, Mace.”


  “I stood up to the sink again,” she continued. “More dishes, more washing, more crying—and thoughts, foreign to my way of thinking, began filtering into my conscious awareness. I believe God spoke to me that day, and this is what He said: Anabel, you don’t look at your son and turn away in disgust because he’s sitting there with saliva drooling out of his mouth; you don’t shake your head, repulsed because he has dinner all over his shirt or because he’s sitting in a dirty, smelly diaper when he ought to be able to take care of himself. Anabel, you don’t reject Mason because all of the dreams you had for him have been destroyed. You don’t reject him because he doesn’t perform for you. You love him, Anabel, just because he is yours. Mason doesn’t willfully reject your love, but you willfully reject Mine. I love you, Anabel, not because you’re neat or attractive, or because you do things well, not because you perform for Me but just because you’re Mine.  

  And, friend, that’s exactly how God feels about you. He loves you just because you are His.

  The New Testament Greek word for the type of love that God has for us is agape. This is unconditional, unchanging, unfathomable, immeasurable love. Paul wrote, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38). Can I say that again? Nothing can separate us from the unconditional love of our Father—not even our own messiness and mistakes.

  This was what I had longed for all my life—to have a daddy who loved me, not because I was pretty or made good grades or behaved like a little lady in public or could play the piano well or hit a baseball out of the park—but just because I was his.

He Cares for You Unfailingly

  The year 2002 was a time of transition for me. I changed positions at the ministry where I served, my son packed up to go away to college, my thyroid went out of control and had to be purposely destroyed with radioactive iodine, my first book went out of print, the grocery store quit carrying my favorite coffee, and Revlon discontinued the eyeliner I’d been using for ten years. Like a little girl having a hissy fit, I whined, “Doesn’t anything ever stay the same? Isn’t there not one thing I can count on being the same tomorrow as it is today?”

  Then I heard that gentle whisper I’ve grown to love: “ ‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:10).

  Yes, there is one thing that will never change: God’s unfailing love and care for His children. He is the same yesterday and today and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8), and on that we can always depend. Solomon tells us that the one thing each of us longs for is unfailing love (Proverbs 19:22). And that is exactly what we have in the love of our heavenly Father.

  The word “compassion” in Isaiah 54:10 is the Hebrew word racham, which means “to soothe; to cherish; to love deeply like parents; to be compassionate, be tender…This verb usually refers to a strong love which is rooted in some kind of natural bond, often from a superior one to an inferior. (Now here’s the best part.) Small babies evoke this feeling.”  

  When my son, Steven, came into the world, a love was birthed in my heart that I never thought possible. Elizabeth Stone said it well: “To make a decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide to have your heart go walking around outside of your body for the rest of your life.” That is how our heavenly Father feels about His children!

  The beautiful Hebrew word hesed is translated “unfailing love” in Isaiah 54:10. It is often translated loving-kindness, steadfast love, grace, mercy, faithfulness, goodness, and devotion. This word is used 240 times and is considered one of the most important concepts in the vocabulary of the Old Testament.   Why? Because God’s unfailing love is one of the most important themes of the entire Bible. It is who He is and what He does (1 John 4:8).

  How would you like to memorize half a psalm in the next 60 seconds? Want to give it a try? Turn to Psalm 136. After each sentence, there is an echo, “His love endures forever.” Just say that sentence 26 times, and you have quoted half of the psalm! The psalmist begins by reminding us of how God created the universe and all it contains. Then he continues by reminiscing how God led the captive Israelites out of Egypt, across the parted Red Sea, through the arid desert, and into the lush Promised Land, conquering enemies at every turn. And through it all, one thing remained the same—“His love endures forever!”

  There may be times in our lives when we cry, “Where are You, God? Don’t You care about what is happening to me? I can’t hear You. I can’t see Your hand working in my life.” But be assured of this: Even when we can’t sense God’s presence, He is always there. Always. And through it all, one thing remains the same—“His love endures forever!”

He Provides for You Unceasingly

  Cary and Madeline Rivers read about the overcrowded orphanages in Eastern Europe, and God stirred their hearts to look into adoption. Foreign adoptions are very costly, but God had blessed the couple financially, and the cost was not prohibitive for them. They decided to adopt not one, two, or three, but four children. After eleven months and miles of red tape, the adoption process was complete, and the couple traveled across the ocean to gather their new family.

  The trip home took 22 hours, so when they arrived at the Atlanta airport for a two-hour layover, the family decided to let the rambunctious boys run around the terminal to work out some of their pent-up energy. Of course, they never let their new sons out of their sight. After a short while, Madeline noticed one of the boys watching a man drinking at a water fountain. Even though the child could not speak English, he seemed to be using his hands and body language to communicate. To Madeline’s horror, the man reached in his pocket and handed her new son a dollar bill.

  She rushed over to the man and asked, “What are you doing?”

  “Well, I could tell this boy couldn’t speak English, but I could also tell that he was begging. So I gave him a dollar.”

  The parents looked in the boy’s pocket and saw that he had ten one-dollar bills! The little boy had no idea of the riches that came with his adoption. Even though he was now part of a family with great wealth, he continued to do what he had done all his life…beg.

  Oh, dear sister, do you see yourself in the little boy’s eyes? Are you begging for handouts when your daddy owns the “cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10)? Are you scavenging for crumbs when your heavenly Father provides everything you need “for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3)? Are you searching for acceptance and approval from others when God longs to lavish you with His? Are you begging for what is already yours?

  John wrote: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1). To “lavish” is to give freely, profusely, extravagantly, and abundantly. He doesn’t give us everything we want when we want it. No father wants spoiled children. Rather, He gives us everything we need to produce well-behaved children who bear His name well. He is our Provider.

He Welcomes You Unreservedly

  One of my favorite people is author and speaker Patsy Clairmont. We were discussing my first book on the telephone one day and trying to set up a time to meet face-to-face when she came to speak at a Women of Faith Conference in my hometown.

  “Patsy, I’d love to spend some time with you before the conference, but I don’t have a backstage pass. I won’t have access to the part of the convention center where you will be.”

  “No problem,” she replied. “Just go to my book table and tell my son who you are. He’ll bring you to me.”

  The day of the conference arrived, and I swam through a sea of women to reach Patsy’s crowded book table. It wasn’t hard to spot her son—a male version of Patsy herself. After proper introductions, Jason and I were off to find his mom. First we passed through heavy mahogany double doors that led to an area called the Crown Room, which was a place for the VIPs who attended professional basketball games and other events.

  Then we entered an elevator that took us to an area where the speakers were tucked away. As soon as we stepped into the elevator, a stern-faced security guard rushed over, pointed his finger in my face, and said, “Where’s your backstage pass? You’re not supposed to be here, young lady. You’re in a lot of trouble.”

  Then he whipped out his walkie-talkie, and he was not afraid to use it. But before I could force one word out of my dry mouth, Patsy’s son stepped forward, showed the guard his credentials, and gallantly stated, “It’s okay. I’m one of the speaker’s sons. I have a backstage pass, and she’s with me.”

  “That’s right,” I agreed after I had found my voice. “He’s Patsy Clairmont’s son, and I’m with him.”

  “Oh. Okay then,” the guard said as he put the walkie-talkie back in its holster. He exited the elevator and was off to seek other dangerous Christian women like myself who were attending the conference.

  I had a wonderful visit with Patsy and left the conference inspired by each one of the speakers. But perhaps the most important lesson I learned was on that elevator ride. Revelation 12:10 says that Satan stands before God accusing us day and night. He questions our credentials as he points his gnarly finger and tells us we’re not good enough to pass through heaven’s doors. But just when we begin to feel unworthy to approach the throne room, God’s Son steps forward and says, “Leave her alone. She’s with me, and I’m all the credentials she needs.”

  In the Old Testament, there is a sense that God was unapproachable because of His holiness and our sinfulness. In the temple a veil separated the Holy of Holies, where God resided, from the other areas of the temple, where the priests attended daily. Only the high priest entered the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement. Before he could enter, the priest went through a rigorous ceremonial cleansing process. Bells were hemmed to the bottom of his robe, and a rope was tied around his ankle. When the priest entered the Holy of Holies, the men outside listened for the tinkling bells to make sure he was still alive. If God was not pleased, and the sound of the bells ceased, they pulled out the dead priest by the rope.

  But in the New Testament all that changed. God was and is still the holy great I am, but we can enter the Holy of Holies with the confidence of a child approaching her daddy. When Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, God tore the veil of the Holy of Holies from top to bottom, inviting all who believe in His Son as Savior and Lord to enter His presence with assurance and confidence. (Mark 15:38). The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, emphasis added). Paul reminds us, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12, emphasis added). As a child of God, your Father welcomes you into His presence. Not only that…He longs for you to come.

He Calls You by Name

  There have been several people in my life who never seem to remember my name. A few of my more popular aliases are Sarah James, Susan James, Shannon James, and Jane Jaynes. Then there are the people who just can’t remember me altogether and don’t even try to fish a name from their memory pool. To tell you the truth, it never has really bothered me. I’m not that good with names, either.

  But names are important to God. In the Bible, a person’s name revealed a unique quality of his or her character. Moses meant “Drawn out of water.” Ruth meant “woman friend.” Naomi meant “pleasant,” and after her husband died, she changed her name to “Mara,” which meant “bitter.” Her two sons’ names meant “puny” and “pining.” Needless to say, these two fellows weren’t exactly strapping young bucks, and both died at an early age. If a person had an encounter with the living God, many times He changed their name to better fit the experiences He had planned for their futures. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, and Saul to Paul.

  Yes, names are very important. That’s why when someone very dear to me forgot mine, it broke my heart.

  My father accepted Jesus as his Savior when I was 21 years old. The transformation I saw in him was nothing short of miraculous. One of the benefits I received was that he learned how to love me. In my father’s later years, we had a tender and dear relationship, but it was short lived.

  A few years after Dad committed his life to Christ, I noticed him becoming forgetful. At first it was small matters: forgetting an order at work, misplacing his shoes or keys, not remembering what day it was, drawing a blank on a close friend’s name. Then it progressed to more serious absentminded behavior: forgetting where he parked in a parking deck (and even which parking deck); coming home to take my mother to the market, forgetting he had already taken her an hour before; and becoming confused when taking measurements for cabinets, a task he had been doing for more than 40 years. In 1987 our greatest fears were confirmed. Dad had Alzheimer’s disease. He was 55 years old.

  My dad had been a tough cookie as a young man. From the time he was 55 to 65, I watched a strapping, quick-witted entrepreneur reduced to a man who could not remember how to speak, button his shirt, or move a spoon from his plate to his mouth. But what pained me the most was the day he forgot my name. I still remember holding his face in my hands and saying, “Daddy, it’s me. Do you know who I am?” But I was only met by a childish grin and eyes that seemed to look straight through me.

  Names are important. In Isaiah 43:1, God says, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine” (nasb). In Isaiah 49:1, the prophet announces, “Before I was born, the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.”

  As God’s child, He has called you by name, and the Bible promises He will never forget it. Your name is engraved on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16).

  On a Friday morning in May 1996, the Lord graciously came and took my father to his new home in glory. He’s probably up there right now measuring for cabinets and working on all those rooms in God’s mansion we have read so much about. His memory has been restored, and I look forward to the day when my earthly father and my heavenly Father welcome me with open arms and say, “Welcome, Sharon, my daughter, my child.”

  As I mentioned earlier, my earthly father did learn how to love me, but my dream to have a daddy who loved me came true years before that. The moment I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, my adoption was final, and I became a precious, chosen, dearly loved child of God. What a joy to have a Daddy who loves me. It is a dream come true.

Why Is This So Important?

  Like any good father, our heavenly Father has dreams for His daughters, and we’re going to talk more about that as we get deeper into our journey together. However, this is the first step to discovering God’s incredible plan for your life.

  Just before Jesus began His earthly ministry, He traveled to the Jordan River and was baptized by His cousin John. When Jesus came up out of the water, God said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Even Jesus needed the assurance that He was God’s dearly loved child before He began to fulfill God’s incredible plan for His life.

  I truly believe women aren’t moving forward in their God-appointed destiny because they don’t understand who they are, what they have, and where they are as a child of God. In order to fulfill God’s dream for your life, just as Jesus fulfilled God’s plan for His life, we must understand His great love for us. You are God’s daughter, whom He loves. With you He is well pleased. You have a Daddy who loves you.