Thursday, February 28, 2013

First Wild Card Tour: Come Eat at My Table by Ruth O'Neil

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:

Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

***Special thanks to Ruth O'Neil for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ruth O’Neil has been writing for over 20 years. She has published hundreds of articles in numerous publications. She loves to touch the emotions when she writes. “If I can make one person laugh or cry, I’ll consider myself successful.” Her first novel “Come Eat at My Table” has just come out in ebook form and can be purchased on her website. She homeschools her three children (well, one now, as two have graduated). She and her husband have been married for 20-plus years. In her spare time she enjoys quilting, crafting, and reading.


Visit the author's website.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Karin Miller has a need to feed everyone. One of her twin daughters always teases her about it. The other daughter, Faith, realizes that there’s more to it than that. Faith’s suspicions are confirmed when she is assigned a project in school that forces Karin to talk about her past, mainly her childhood. Most people have fun and pleasant memories from childhood, but not Karin. There are a lot of secrets, which she has kept hidden for twenty years that have contributed to her vulnerability and lack of self-esteem. Her husband convinces her that it would be good for her to let it all out. He tells her it would also be good for the girls to learn more about their mom and why she is the person she is. When it’s all said and done, Karin is a much stronger person and so are the members of her family. Until Karin faces her past, she and her family cannot face their future.


Product Details:
List Price: $7.99
File Size: 307 KB
Print Length: 133 pages
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00BI2WZ9S
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray: Not Enabled
Lending: Enabled



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Prologue

It’s said that the way we are raised forms who we are as adults. It’s all the experiences we have had in life that make us who we are. Mom was no different. Her experiences definitely shaped who she was.

I learned at an early age that it was my mom’s goal in life to feed everyone. She believed that food connected people and made them happy. Many of my own most vivid memories come from when we were sitting at the table eating with friends and family. Besides just inviting friends over for dinner, Mom would have someone over to eat in payment for a good deed. Mom would always make a meal for someone who was sick or in need. If she knew that someone was depressed, they would be the recipients of a plate of cupcakes. It was her signature touch of love, which made all her food special. Mom never failed to include a card, along with the food, with a few words of encouragement. If dessert was given, it was always presented on a pretty plate intended for the receiver to keep. Mom was famous for her cooking, especially for her cupcakes that were decorated individually.

It wasn’t until the year that my sister and I turned sixteen that we realized why mom had an underlying need to feed everyone. She wanted everyone to know they were loved - by her and by God. I remember that year as being one of the best of our lives. I don’t exactly know why because it was a year of difficulty for my parents and for us as a family. In spite of those difficulties, I remember that year as being fun and good.

Mom was one of those people that didn’t realize all the good she did or the number of people she touched. She did what she did because she felt God told her to. She didn’t do it for show. There was something deep down inside her that made her want to reach out to others. She never wanted anyone to feel like she had felt as a child, which was unloved. It wasn’t until the project for school our sophomore year that my sister and I found out why mom was the way she was.

It’s a story I will never forget because it was one that was difficult for my mom to tell and for us to hear. She wanted to shade my sister and me from her past, but I think I’m the better for knowing it. I think you will be, too.

Faith Miller



Chapter One

“Only two more days till Christmas!” Hope danced around the kitchen chanting while getting underfoot. She was good at that, but not always a whole lot of help.

“Yes, we know!” Hope’s twin sister Faith said, while frosting some of the cookies she had baked earlier in the day with their mom.

Hope picked up the cookie as soon as Faith set it aside to let the frosting set.

“You didn’t burn these did you?”

“I haven’t burnt anything in a long time!” Faith said.

“Yeah, it’s been at least a week!” Hope said sarcastically.

“We’d get more done if you helped a little more besides eating everything.” The girls’ mom, Karin, said to Hope without looking up from what she was doing.

“I’m taste-testing.” Hope said with her mouth full. “And taking pictures.” She held up her other hand, which contained a camera. It was an older camera that used film, but she found taking pictures enjoyable and she was good at it. She used her talent and became the photo editor of their school newspaper. She would often get right up in people’s faces to get a close-up shot. Karin and Faith hated that, which made Hope do it even more.

Hope and Faith were identical twins who would turn sixteen the next July. While they looked alike, they made every effort to look different. They had the same honey colored hair and green eyes as their mom. The three of them looked so much alike that their father often called them his triplets.

Karin wore her hair long, down to her waist. Faith had hair that came down past her shoulder blades, but more often than not, she had it up in a ponytail to keep it out of her way. Hope kept her hair only to her shoulders and she would straighten hers since she didn’t particularly like the waves that her mom and sister kept.

As far as their personalities were concerned, the twins couldn’t have been more different. Faith was the no fuss twin. Hope was the one who was more concerned about her appearance. She always took the time to do her hair and put on clean clothes and make-up before she took out the garbage.

Faith liked to cook alongside of her mother. Although she used to burn a lot of meals, after the last couple years of practice, she had become a much better cook. Faith liked to play sports and hated shopping. Hope liked shopping and hated sports. Hope was more popular at school and had a lot of friends. Faith was well liked, but she was much quieter than Hope and was loyal to her small group of close friends. Hope was much more talkative and more interested in the latest trends.

Hope talked incessantly, while Faith was a listener. Faith saw and heard things that Hope had no idea were there. Hope’s personality was more like her dad’s and Faith’s was more like Karin’s.

Faith was baking and frosting cookies while Karin was preparing Christmas dinner. When she pulled the ham from the oven she said as much to herself as to the girls. “I don’t know why I’m getting all this food ready now.” She had pretty much cooked everything so that on Christmas Day it would just have to be reheated.

“Well, now we can enjoy more time together as a family this year,” Faith said. “We always get up early, open presents, spend a few hours cooking, an hour eating, and the rest of the day sitting around doing nothing.”

“Yeah,” Hope agreed. “We can sleep in. We aren’t little kids anymore who are so anxious to open presents that we can’t wait till daylight.”

“We can sleep in as long as dad doesn’t wake us up.” Faith laughed.

It was true, their dad, Rob, was always the first one up on Christmas Day. He often got up and unsatisfied to be alone and to wait patiently, he would go and wake up the whole household. It didn’t matter that it was only four o’clock in the morning, it was Christmas and it was time to open all the presents that waited under the tree. If only he would leave everyone alone they could sleep in a little longer and still have plenty of time to enjoy the day and eat all the delicious food they were preparing.

Just then, the front door opened. All three of them looked to see who had entered. A little boy shyly stood there with a big smile. “Are you baking cookies?” He asked.

“We sure are.” Karin was always amazed at how Matt could show up at exactly the right time. “You’re a little late, Matt. I cracked the eggs a while ago!” Karin smiled.

One time when he came over while Karin was baking cookies, he told her he had heard her cracking the eggs. That was their own little joke now. He also heard her cracking the ice cube trays in the summer when he was hopeful of getting Karin’s famous lemonade.

Karin felt sorry for Matt. He was often at home alone. Matt was only ten years old. He had a single mom who worked extra hard just to make ends meet. Karin knew Matt’s mom’s schedule and they had an agreement that Karin would keep her eye out for their young next-door neighbor when he wasn’t in school.

Karin knew that if she offered to watch Matt his mom would feel obligated to pay her. Karin wasn’t looking for payment; she just wanted to be a good neighbor. Karin also knew that money was tight for Matt and his mom, so she often sent a plate of food home for her after Matt had eaten dinner with them. This arrangement worked well and kept them all happy.

Matt fit right in with the family, filling the role of little brother. Faith took him under her wing and nurtured him. Hope took him under her wing and conspired with him. Right now Hope and Matt sat on bar stools on the opposite side of the counter of where Karin and Faith were working. Hope was picking up two cookies, one more for herself and one for Matt.

None of them could resist Matt’s bright, blue eyes, blonde hair and the fattest cheeks anyone could ever imagine on a skinny, little kid. He was cute, of that there was no doubt. This was one reason Karin found it hard to resist his smile when he showed up on her doorstep, hoping for a cookie. He happily chewed on his treat as the three girls talked and sang Christmas songs as they played on the radio.

The four continued their baking, decorating, and eating. When Hope’s favorite Christmas song came on the radio, she ordered everyone to be quiet so she could listen and sing, when actually her singing ruined the song for everyone else. She grabbed a wooden spoon out of the crock on the counter and used it as a microphone as she sang and danced around the kitchen. Neither her singing nor her dancing was pleasant entertainment, but she ignored anyone who told her so.

Fortunately, the phone ringing interrupted her performance. Since her mom and Faith were both busy, Hope answered the phone without turning down the music.

“Hello? Merry Christmas!” She just about shouted into the phone. “Just a minute, please.” She handed the phone to her mom. “It’s Mrs. Carter, from church.”

Karin took the phone from her daughter. “Hello?”  It only took about two seconds for her whole demeanor to change. Hope was still singing, stealing cookies, and sharing them with Matt who had by now acquired a cup of hot cocoa, too.

Hope may not have noticed the change in her mom, but Faith, the one who saw everything, did see it. She also saw her mom walk into another room to avoid the noise. Faith turned down the volume on the radio not only so her mom could hear better, but also so that she could hear what her mom was saying.

“Hey!” Hope said as Faith turned the music down.

“Shhh!” Faith responded.

“I’ll take a meal over to them tonight.” Karin was saying. “I’ll also go ahead and set up meals for at least the rest of the week.”

When she hung up Faith asked what was wrong.

Karin put her hands on her hips like she was thinking. “Mrs. Lloyd broke her leg this morning.” She said.

“How did she do that?” Faith asked.

“She slipped on some ice and fell.” Karin answered.

Faith already knew exactly what was going through her mom’s mind. When Karin heard of a need, she automatically went into high gear. During the next few moments Karin spoke, but only to herself. The girls, and even Matt, knew not to interrupt.

“They are going to need food. There is no way Lisa is going to feel like cooking anything let alone a fancy Christmas dinner. I wish I had time to bake some cupcakes. I can do that later, instead of today. I don’t know how many people will be able to fix meals the week of Christmas. Hmmm. She’s going to need more help than that, too. She has five small children.”

When she looked up, the girls knew that they were now included in any further discussion. The funny part is that there wasn’t any conversation. The three of them looked at each other for a few moments. Took their eyes off each other long enough to scan over all the food that was spread out on the counter and the tables. There was ham, sweet potatoes, apple and pumpkin pies, herbed corn, and homemade rolls. When their eyes met again the decision had been made, all without saying one word. Hope grabbed one more cookie before the deal was sealed.

“Your dad doesn’t particularly care for ham anyway. He’s always saying he wants pizza for Christmas dinner; that we should go against tradition. How about we give him what he wants this year?” Karin asked the girls without expecting an answer. “Now I know why God had me prepare Christmas dinner early. See, girls, everything happens for a reason.” She commented. “Isn’t God amazing?” Karin just beamed.

Faith smiled. Hope acted a little disappointed. Both of the girls knew that their own Christmas dinner would be a little bit less than what was originally planned, but they both also knew that mom would make it special, even if it was just pizza.

“Mom’s got to feed the world!” Hope said. Her tone was sarcastic, but she said it with all the love she had in her heart for her mom. Everyone who knew her knew that Karin Miller had an innate need to feed everyone she met. And everyone she met was more than willing to eat at Karin Miller’s table, for her food was a treat for all to thoroughly enjoy.

Hope grabbed a couple more cookies. Faith went and got out one of the pretty plates her mom kept for such occasions. Karin would buy these plates when she found them on sale or at second hand stores or yard sales. It was one of those extra touches that were purely Karin. The plate was a gift along with whatever food was placed on it and was not to be returned.

“Here, Matt,” Faith began to hand him another cookie, but changed her mind when she looked at him. “Can you cram anymore cookies in those cheeks of yours?”

Matt tried to smile, but had to cover his mouth with his hand to keep cookie crumbs from falling out.

Faith continued, “Which cookies do you think the Lloyd’s will like?”

While munching on his own cookies, Matt helped Faith choose some of the prettier looking cookies to give to a family who would be in need of Christmas treats.

Faith arranged the cookies on the plate so they looked attractive. Then she covered the whole thing tightly with plastic warp so the cookies wouldn’t slide around. This would be dessert for the Lloyds to go along with the dinner her mom would soon be packing up.

Faith also grabbed a large plastic bag and filled it with cookies.

“What’s that for?” Matt wanted to know. Even though he didn’t live there, he knew Karin always put cookies on a nice plate and not in a plastic bag.

“These are for you and your mom.” Faith smiled.

“Oh, boy!” Matt said excitedly, rubbing his hands together.

“Yeah,” Hope interjected. “Make sure you save some for your mom. I heard she didn’t get any of the last batch.” She teased.

Matt just grinned. He knew he was guilty as charged. The last time Karin sent Matt home with some cranberry-ginger cookies, Matt ate them all. He paid for it the next day with a horrible stomachache.

“Hope, since you aren’t doing anything but eating, grab me some of those foil pans that are in the pantry.” Karin asked. “That way Mrs. Lloyd won’t need to worry about washing or returning any dishes.”

The Lloyd’s were a family at their church. They were relatively new members and Karin would do her best to make them feel like a part of the family.

When Hope came back with the foil pans in hand, Karin gave her another order. “Go get me that box of cards that is on the desk in my bedroom.”

That was another thing for which Karin had a talent. Whenever she gave anyone food, she also sent a card with much needed encouragement. Somehow, she always found the right Bible verse for every occasion. Karin didn’t know it and she certainly wasn’t keeping track, but she had touched many hearts with her efforts. Karin was well loved by everyone. A few people had even told her she should be a writer because the notes she wrote in the cards were so encouraging.

“There we go!”  Karin said as she finished packing up the ham dinner she thought she had been preparing for her own family. She smiled from ear to ear. Where many people would have been upset to put all that work into a meal and not be able to eat it, Karin was the opposite. She was in her glory, or God’s glory as her husband, Rob had come to call it. He may have teased her about all the food she prepared for other people, but he was known to help by telling her about people he knew were in need. He had delivered more than one meal in their twenty years of marriage.

“Hope can start putting stuff in the van if she ever comes back.”

“I’ll help.” Matt offered.

Faith handed him the bag of cookies. Matt happily carried his bag of cookies outside.

Hope came into the room. “There aren’t really any cards that are appropriate.”

Karin quickly looked through them. “You’re right.”

“Want me to go to the store and pick one out for you?”

Karin just looked at her daughter. “You can’t drive.”

“Yeah, but in seven months I’ll be able to, so why don’t you let me start practicing now?”

“Because it isn’t legal. I’ll stop and get a card on the way. Let’s go.”

“Are we going to the dollar store?” Faith wondered.

“Yeah, probably. That way I can see if they have any more pretty plates. I’m running low.”

The dollar store was one of her favorite places to find those small treasures. Often she would also find small pieces to use on the table as decorations for all of her entertaining. She often said, “Entertaining doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can still be beautiful.” And her table was often very lovely.

Blogaholic Designs”=

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

First Wild Card Tour: Beyond the Rapids by Evelyn Puerto

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:

Pleasant Word-A Division of WinePress Publishing; First Edition edition (May 25, 2010)

***Special thanks to Evelyn Puerto for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
 Evelyn Puerto left a career in health care planning to serve as a missionary for seven years in Russia. During those years, she met and was inspired by the Brynza family, whose story she tells in Beyond the Rapids. After her return from the mission field, she got married, inheriting three stepdaughters, two stepgrandsons and a cat.


Visit the author's website.




SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Imagine that you are a believer living in a communist country. You live with the knowledge that at any time you could be imprisoned, tortured or killed simply because you are a Christian.

Award-winning Beyond the Rapids is the true story of Ukrainian pastor Alexei Brynza and his wife, Valentina, who endured persecution in a culture that was hostile to their faith as they struggled to raise their children as believers The Brynzas children were tempted by ambition, wealth, love and popularity as they struggled with the choice between embracing the communist system or believing in God. Beyond the Rapids is an inspiring story of God's grace and faithfulness in all circumstances.





Product Details:
List Price: $19.99
Paperback: 348 pages
Publisher: Pleasant Word-A Division of WinePress Publishing; First Edition edition (May 25, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414116055
ISBN-13: 978-1414116051



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Beyond the Rapids

One Family’s Triumph over Religious Persecution in Communist Ukraine


Chapter 1


Grandpa and the Firing Squad


Stone walls do not a prisone [sic] make.1

George Bernard Shaw



Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:32



As told by Lena

My parents didn’t allow my three brothers and me to play with the other children in the neighborhood. They built a wood fence around the yard and installed a gate, which Mama locked every morning after Papa left for work. Then she let us amuse ourselves in the yard while she was cooking or planting potatoes or taking care of the goats. We often stood at the gate, peeking through the bars, stretching our hands into the air, rejoicing that our hands were free, even if we were not, waving at the neighbors passing by, neighbors who laughed at us, remarking we were like prisoners in jail.

Maybe the neighbors were joking; maybe they remembered that our grandfather had been imprisoned during the Great Patriotic War. Many Ukrainians rejoiced when our country was invaded. Some greeted the German army with bread and salt, the traditional symbols of welcome, hoping the Nazis would rule more humanely than the iron-fisted communists. After two years of German occupation, the Soviet Army drove the Nazis out, fighting so fiercely around Zaporozhe that the Dniepr River ran red with the blood of the dead.

The Soviet Army rounded up all the men who survived the occupation to take to the front. My grandfather, Gavril, was among them. He refused to fight. The Baptist church left decisions about participating in war or bearing arms to each person’s conscience. For Grandpa, it was clear. “I am a Christian,” he said, “and I will not kill anyone.”

To the Soviet authorities, this was traitorous. How could any citizen shirk his duty to defend the Motherland from the fascist invaders? The Nazis treacherously attacked our country, plundered wantonly, slaughtered millions of people, and carried off thousands more to slavery in Germany. Maybe my grandfather would have been more willing to help a regime that had not been so cruel to believers. He certainly wasn’t going to compromise his principles to help the Communist Party complete its Five Year Plan. He would remain true to his faith and convictions no matter what.

For many years the authorities sought reasons to arrest Grandpa for his faith; now they had grounds to execute him. He was tried, sentenced to death by firing squad, and flung into the death cell with others condemned to die. There he sat for an entire month. The guards distributed almost no food and offered no medical care of any kind to these prisoners, reasoning that the inmates were going to die anyway. Why waste good food or medicine on traitors and criminals?

Every morning, as the pale winter sun peaked through the tiny window high up in the wall of the unheated cell, the cell’s door grated open and a guard would appear. As he probed the faces of the condemned with his flashlight, the prisoners waited, resigned, knowing what was about to happen—one of their number would be called out never to return, and each one hoped to be spared one more day. But the guard’s light would finally settle on one weary face. “You.  Let’s go.”

One morning the light drilled into Grandpa’s face. He calmly said good-bye to his cellmates. After a month in the death cell he still wasn’t sure why he had been arrested. Was it for refusing to fight in the army, refusing to kill another human being? Or was it simply for his faith? Now his sentence was about to be fulfilled; it didn’t matter why he was to die. He staggered to his feet, lightheaded from hunger, stiff from inactivity.

The weak light of the winter sun pierced Grandpa’s eyes when he left the cell. Each step was a struggle, every muscle protesting, pain shooting through his feet as he walked to certain death, his heart at peace. He knew that in a few minutes he would be rewarded for his faith and enjoy eternal life with God. The guards marched Grandpa along the muddy streets of the camp. As they passed the headquarters, an officer came out. “Where are you taking this man?” he asked.

“To the firing squad.”

“What has he done?”

“He’s a Baptist leech who won’t fight.”

“My mother was a Baptist,” said the officer. “I can’t allow you to kill him. Give him another trial.” At the second trial they sentenced Grandpa to ten years hard labor in a concentration camp in Siberia. Grandpa’s suffering was only beginning.


Blogaholic Designs”=

Waiting on Wednesday (February 27, 2013)


Hosted by Breaking the Spine

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Barbour Books (March 1, 2013)


Embark on a seafaring adventure in a brand-new series from bestselling author MaryLu Tyndall. 

After witnessing the death and destruction caused by the Civil War, Colonel Blake Wallace is eager to leave his once precious Southern homeland for the pristine shores of Brazil and the prospect of a new utopian community. 

Widow Eliza Crawford seeks passage on Wallace’s ship harboring a dirty secret—and a blossoming hope for a fresh start. But will dangers from the sea and from man keep them from the peace and love they long for?





Blogaholic Designs”=

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

First Wild Card Tour: Katie Opens Her Heart by Jerry Eicher

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

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



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
 Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.


Visit the author's website.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Jerry Eicher (nearly half a million copies sold) returns with the first book in another of his delightful series centering on Amish life.

Here is the story of a young Amish girl, Katie Raber, who finds she wants more from life than to be known as simply “Emma Raber’s daughter.”












Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736952519
ISBN-13: 978-0736952514


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The early morning sun was rising over the well-kept farms of Delaware’s Amish country as Katie Raber drove her buggy toward Byler’s Store near Dover to begin her day’s work. She squinted when she spotted an approaching buggy in the distance. The horse had its neck arched high in the air. Katie didn’t have to think long before she decided who was coming toward her. Ben Stoll would be holding the reins. It was his buggy. She was sure of that. Ben was one of the best-looking Amish boys around. Blessed was any girl who was invited to ride with him in his buggy—something Katie figured she would never experience. Ben was without a doubt the catch among the community’s Amish young men. A cloud crossed the sun, and Katie held the buggy lines tight as she kept her eyes glued on the approaching buggy. Perhaps she could catch a glimpse of Ben this morning. That was all she could hope for. He was from another world. Ben never spoke to her, and she only saw him at the Sunday meetings and the Amish youth gatherings Mamm allowed her to attend. There he would be laughing and talking with someone else—someone more suited to his taste than “plain Katie,” the out-of-step daughter of the odd widow Emma Raber. Katie could walk right under Ben Stoll’s nose, and he wouldn’t even know a shadow had gone by.

Yah, she was Emma Raber’s daughter. That’s how most people in the community thought of her. She even thought of herself that way—just an extension of her mamm. Mamm was nice enough, and Emma really loved her. So, nee, she wasn’t really complaining. But sometimes her mamm did unusual things, and that made Katie seem so…well, weird to the other young adults in the Amish community. For one thing, there would be no rumspringa for Katie. Everyone else she knew among the Delaware Amish would have their time to run around and try out the ways of the world. But not Katie. Emma Raber wouldn’t even consider such a thing for her daughter. And the Amish youth gatherings were few and far between. Mamm was suspicious of even those. “Too much socializing,” she had said.

She could live without rumspringa. Or without Ben Stoll, for that matter. So what, Katie told herself, it might even be best for her if Ben were unobtainable. He might not be all that wunderbah if she ever got to know him. Katie sighed. These were desperate excuses, and she knew it, but lately Mamm’s restrictions were becoming harded and harder to bear. She was only trying to make herself feel better. Ben was wunderbah. Even her friend Arlene Miller wasn’t above stealing a glance at Ben—and that with her boyfriend, Nelson Graber, sitting right across from her at the Sunday night hymn singings!

Katie wondered if all the girls were as taken with Ben as she was. She was aware of everything about him. She noticed when he wore a new black suit at communion time every spring. She noticed the way his buggy shone when the sun rays bounced off the sides at the Sunday meetings. The boy must spend hours waxing the black vinyl of his buggy, she thought. And most of all, she noticed the way Ben smiled when he was happy, which seemed like most of the time. What would it be like to be the kind of girl who made Ben smile that smile? Ha! Certainly a simple, plain soul like Emma Raber’s daughter couldn’t be such a girl…ever.

Katie tried to look away from the fast-approaching buggy. She was way too fascinated with the boy. If Mamm knew her feelings, Katie knew she’d be given a lecture the size of the state of Delaware and right at the kitchen table after supper. Yah, Mamm would not understand how she felt. Life had been hard for Mamm, especially when it came to men. Hadn’t Daett passed away when Katie was still a young girl? The loss had been so painful for Mamm that she might never marry again.

The beat of horse hooves on pavement grew louder. Katie eased open her buggy door just enough to make sure that whoever was in the passing buggy could see it was her in case a greeting was forthcoming. With her hands on the reins, Katie held her breath as the buggy approached and passed without its buggy door opening even an inch. Katie saw the unmistakable outline of Ben’s face through the small window. His hat was tight on his head, and his eyes were looking straight ahead. The moment passed in a flash without the smallest flicker of a hand wave through the window. And then the buggy was gone.

It was the sun in his eyes, Katie told herself. That’s why Ben hadn’t slid open the buggy door or bothered to wave. But she knew better. Ben wasn’t being mean. No, she just wasn’t worth the effort. He had greater and better things on his mind than paying attention to Emma Raber’s odd daughter. Now if she were beautiful, or charming, or funny, or even talkative at the Sunday-night hymn singings, it might be different. With such qualities, perhaps her plainness could be overcome. But all that was a dream that would never come true. She couldn’t be what she wasn’t.

Perhaps she should settle for Joe Helmuth from down the road. Joe walked with a limp from a hay wagon accident when he was five. He would take over his daett’s farm someday, but the scars from that long-ago day would never leave him. The problem was that Joe didn’t pay Katie any attention either.

Well, at least thinking about Ben Stoll helped ease the pain a little, Katie decided. She was only Katie Raber, after all. The girl who could barely open her mouth without dumb words falling out all over each other. If she could only be more like the rest of the Amish girls in the community. But that could never be either, not with how Mamm felt about things.

Katie slapped the reins against her horse as her thoughts swirled through her mind. She couldn’t remember much about Daett. He’d been gone since she was three years old. She could remember happy times though. Going to the barn with him when they did the evening chores. But that was so long ago. If she only had a daett, Katie decided, life would be different. If Mamm married again, Katie figured both of them would be better accepted in the community and Mamm might change her ways. The most obvious possibility was widower Jesse Mast. And he’d come calling on Mamm again just the other evening. Mamm hadn’t said anything about the visit, but Jesse had surely spoken of marriage.

Yah, Mamm should marry again, Katie decided. Mamm’s sorrow over losing her husband was still written on her face after all these years. Was it not high time things changed? Yah, and Katie would pray about the matter.

Da Hah must already be thinking the same thing if He was sending Mamm a suitor in the person of Jesse Mast. So why couldn’t Mamm see this and accept Jesse’s offer of marriage? Was she turning him down because he wasn’t much to look at? Yah, he was a little rough around the edges. But it wasn’t like Mamm to be so concerned with outward appearance. She went more by a person’s kind heart than how he looked on the outside. Perhaps it was the fact that Jesse’s frau, Millie, had died and left him with a family of five children. Was that why Mamm objected? She didn’t want her household increased so dramatically?

Nee, Katie decided that couldn’t be the reason either. Mamm didn’t mind hard work. And if a large family was the problem, she should have been happy after turning down Jesse. Instead, Mamm had walked around the house with the lines on her face running deeper than ever. So why had she turned Jesse down? That was assuming Mamm had turned him down. The proposal of marriage was just a guess on Katie’s part, but she was sure she was right. It couldn’t have been anything else. The two had talked for a long time while sitting on the porch swing. Afterward, Jesse had stood in the yard for a few moments longer, still speaking with Mamm. He’d held his hat in his hand, the sweat ring in his hair still apparent from where the hat had been pressed tightly on his head. Then Jesse had walked back to his buggy, his head bowed. Even Jesse’s horse, Lucy, had looked depressed as they drove down the lane.

Katie had been ready to ask Mamm what Jesse wanted, but one look at her face caused her to change her mind. Mamm looked troubled and yet, at the same time, ready to give someone a piece of her mind. A question from Katie could easily have resulted in another lecture she didn’t want to hear. A lecture about being satisfied with one’s lot in life and not reaching for the stars. That was the standard lecture Mamm always gave when Katie dared complain about attending more of the Amish youth gatherings.

“You don’t know how nice you have it,” Mamm would say. “We have enough to eat, a roof over our heads, and horses to drive us to work and church. What more could we ask for?”

Well, Katie thought, there was plenty more to ask for. All kinds of things a young woman could want. Things that were out there just waiting to enrich one’s life—and, happily, things that were not forbidden by the Ordnung. Like liking a boy. Like someday loving a man who would love her back and consider his life empty without her. Someone who’s eyes would light up when he saw her. Someone who called her sweet things on Sunday nights as he sat on the couch beside her. Wasn’t that what dating couples did? Mamm wouldn’t say when Katie asked, other than muttering something about useless talking until all hours of the night.

How could such time be considered wasted? Katie wondered. It would be glory indeed to sit beside a boy—a soon-to-be man so near she could touch him. What delight it would be to hear his deep voice rumble when he spoke or feel his eyes watching her long before she looked up to meet his gaze. Nee, this couldn’t be wasted time. It would be a touch of heaven, and the most worthwhile thing a girl could set her heart on. Especially if the boy were Ben Stoll…

Katie sighed. So had Jesse Mast asked for Mamm’s hand? Had she turned him down? She’d sent him away looking disappointed, so something was going on. And then there was that look on Mamm’s face in the evenings after the sun had set and the house was quiet. Mamm didn’t like the loneliness of their house either—the hours without a man’s voice being heard. She’d been silent after Jesse left that night, staring at the kitchen wall and seemingly more troubled than usual.

What could she do to help? Katie wondered. She should do something, yah.

A car passed Katie’s buggy, its engine roaring. Katie forced her mind back on the road ahead. Her horse, Sparky, knew the way to Byler’s Store. He should after all this time she’d worked there. But even so, he mustn’t be allowed to go his own way.

Ahead of her, Bishop Jonas Miller’s place was coming up. His wife, Laura, was out in the yard hanging wash on the line. Katie leaned out of the buggy to wave, and Laura paused long enough to wave back before bending again to her work. At least the older Amish folk didn’t think she was strange, even with her Mamm the way she was.

Katie settled herself in the buggy seat again. If Mamm married Jesse, she might have to stay home from her job at Byler’s and help with the added work five children entailed. But that would be an attractive kind of work—more normal almost. And it could lead to other kinds of normalness in her life. And perhaps even to a boy sitting on the couch beside her some Sunday night after a hymn singing. Yah, somehow Mamm must be persuaded to accept Jesse’s offer of marriage.

Katie turned into the parking lot at Byler’s and pulled Sparky to a stop at the far end of the hitching rail that was located on one side of the store. She climbed down, unhitched the buggy, and led Sparky around to the back where he could munch at stray pieces of grass during the day. She tied him to the fence with a long rope before walking back to the buggy. She pushed both doors shut before heading to the employee entrance of the store.
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Monday, February 25, 2013

CFBA Tour: Flora's Wish by Kathleen Y'Barbo

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Flora's Wish
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
by
Kathleen Y'Barbo


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
RITA and Carol award nominee Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than forty novels, novellas, and young adult books. In all, more than one million copies of her books are currently in print in the US and abroad, and her books have been translated into Dutch, German, and Spanish, to name a few.

Kathleen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She holds a BBA from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School and a certification in Paralegal Studies, and is a former member of the Texas Bar Association’s Paralegal Division.

A tenth-generation Texan, Kathleen Y’Barbo has four children of her own as well as seven bonus kids she gladly inherited when she married her own hero in combat boots. Kathleen is proud to be a military wife, even if it did mean giving up her Texas drivers license.



ABOUT THE BOOK:
May 1887--Flora Brimm is determined the fifth time is the charm. Back home she has a reputation as "Fatal Flora," a woman whose previous four fiancés died in untimely accidents. Flora is desperate to marry, because producing an heir is the only way she can keep her family's estate. She's confident this visit to Eureka Springs with her grandmother will help her land a husband.

Pinkerton detective Lucas McMinn is hot on the trail of Will Tucker, the thief who broke his sister's heart. When he discovers the slippery fellow with Flora, he thinks they are in on the devious plot together. Will Flora be able to convince Lucas of her innocence? Will Lucas catch the elusive Mr. Tucker?

And, more importantly, will Lucas survive if he pursues Flora's heart?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Flora's Wish, go HERE.


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Friday, February 22, 2013

Lucas Trent 3 - Grand Theft Magic (Book Trailer Reveal & Kindle Fire Giveaway)

After a field trip suddenly turns into a near catastrophe Lucas and the others shift into high gear to avenge their injured friend. But when an unexpected foe arrives at the scene they quickly find themselves in a life or death situation that not even their extraordinary skills can solve. Realizing that they have bitten off more than they can chew Lucas desperately starts looking for trustworthy allies, just to find out once again that things are never as easy as they appear at first.

Can they survive the battles at hand? Will they be able to tell friend from foe? Or will the epic quest they have stumbled into be too much for them to handle?

Follow Lucas Trent and his friends through an action-paced story of mysteries, secrets and deceptions and find out…



About the Author:
Publishing under a pen name to keep his personal life separate from his writing life, Richard Blunt was raised in the heart of Europe, in a nation where English is not the native language. Like his heroes, Richard blunt is nothing more than a shadow – a specter that whispers a story for everyone to hear.

His latest book is Lucas Trent 3: Grand Theft Magic.

You can visit his website at http://www.lucastrent.com/ and his blog at http://richardblunt.blogspot.com/.

Book Trailer:


Book Blogger Hop (February 22nd - 28th)




Here's this week's question:

Which do you prefer most: a printed book or an Ereader?

A printed book, though I do love the ease of an ereader. 


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Thursday, February 21, 2013

What's Next (February 21, 2013)


What's Next is a fun meme hosted by IceyBooks. The idea is to let you know the books I have to read and let you choose which one I should read next. 

Here are this week's options:

RADIANT DARKNESS
He smiles. "Hello."

It's a deep voice. I can feel it reverberate in my chest and echo all the way down to my toes.

I know I should leave, but I don't want to. I want to keep my senses like this forever. I'm all eye, all ear, all skin.

Persephone lives in the most gorgeous place in the world. But her mother's a goddess, as overprotective as she is powerful. Paradise has become a trap. Just when Persephone feels there's no chance of escaping the life that's been planned for her, a mysterious stranger arrives. A stranger who promises something more--something dangerous and exciting--something that spurs Persephone to make a daring choice. A choice that could destroy all she's come to love, even the earth itself.

In a land where a singing river can make you forget your very name, Persephone is forced to discover who--and what--she really is.


DAUGHTER OF WAR
Teenagers Kevork and his betrothed Marta are the lucky ones. They have managed so far to survive the Armenian genocide in Turkey, and both are disguised as Muslims. But Marta is still in Turkey, pregnant with another man's child. And Kevork is living as an Arab in Syria. 

Kevork yearns to get back into Turkey and search for Marta, but with the war raging and the genocide still in progress, the journey will be impossibly dangerous. Meanwhile, Marta worries that even if Kevork has survived and they are reunited, will he be able to accept what she has become? And what has happened to her sister, Mariam, who was sold as a slave to the highest bidder? 

"Daughter of War "is a gripping story of enduring love and loyalty set against the horrors of Turkey during World War I.



TIME BETWEEN US
Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett has the unique ability to travel through time and space, which brings him into Anna’s life, and with him a new world of adventure and possibility.

As their relationship deepens, the two face the reality that time may knock Bennett back to where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate, what consequences they can bear in order to stay together, and whether their love can stand the test of time.

Fresh, exciting, and deeply romantic, Time Between Us is a stunning, spellbinding debut from an extraordinary new voice in YA fiction.



THE HEALER'S APPRENTICE
Two Hearts. One Hope.

Rose has been appointed as a healer's apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter's daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her—a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill.

When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she's never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose's life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.


THE LAST DODO
The Doctor and Martha go in search of a real live dodo, and are transported by the TARDIS to the mysterious Museum of the Last Ones. There, in the Earth section, they discover every extinct creature up to the present day, all still alive and in suspended animation.

Preservation is the museum's only job - collection the last of every endangered species from all over the universe. But exhibits are going missing...

Can the Doctor solve the mystery before the museum's curator adds the last of the Time Lords to her collection?






SPELLCASTER
After breaking a centuries-old romantic curse, Emma Connor is (almost) glad to get back to normal problems. Although…it's not easy dealing with the jealous cliques and gossip that rule her exclusive Upper East Side prep, even for a seventeen-year-old newbie witch. Having the most-wanted boy in school as her eternal soul mate sure helps ease the pain—especially since wealthy, rocker-hot Brendan Salinger is very good at staying irresistibly close….But something dark and hungry is using Emma's and Brendan's deepest fears to reveal damaging secrets and destroy their trust in each other. And Emma's crash course in überspells may not be enough to keep them safe…or to stop an inhuman force bent on making their unsuspected power its own.




OPEN MINDS
When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.





MOONLIGHT MASQUERADE
Sometimes it is hard to tell if you are the cat or the mouse.

Lady Céline Wexham seems the model British subject. French by birth but enjoying life in 1813 as a widowed English countess, she is in the unique position of being able to help those in need--or to spy for the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte.

When Rees Phillips of the British Foreign Office is sent to pose as the countess's butler and discover where her true loyalties lie, he is confident he will uncover the truth. But the longer he is in her fashionable townhouse in London's West End, the more his staunch loyalty to the Crown begins to waver as he falls under Lady Wexham's spell.

Will he find the proof he needs? And if she is a spy after all, what then will he do?



Which one should I read next? Please let me know in a comment. Thanks!



Blogaholic Designs”=

Rebekah by Jill Eileen Smith (Review)

Can love heal the rift between two souls?

When her beloved father dies and she is left in the care of her conniving brother Laban, Rebekah knows her life has changed forever. Though she should be married by now, it's clear that Laban is dragging his feet, waiting for a higher bride-price to line his pockets. But then Rebekah is given a chance to leave her home to marry Isaac, a cousin she has never even seen, and her hope for the future is restored. Little does she know what a wondrous and heart-wrenching journey she is beginning.

As Rebekah experiences the joy of young love and the bitterness of misunderstanding and betrayal, her resolve is tested. When the rift between Isaac and her grows so wide it is surely too great to be mended, can she trust the God of Isaac's father Abraham to bridge the gap?


I GIVE THIS BOOK:1 star1 star1 star1 star

MY THOUGHTS:
After reading Sarai last year I had great expectations for Rebekah, unfortunately it just wasn't as good. The story started out all right, but there was just something about it that didn't set well with me - I just can't put my finger on exactly what it was. The author didn't stray from scripture, as far as I can tell anyway, so that wasn't the problem. There obviously isn't as much written about this couple as there is Abraham and Sarah, so maybe part of the problem (for me) had to do with the fact that I had always thought of them differently - I don't know.

One thing I know I didn't agree with in this book was the time frame for when Abraham married Keturah. I had always believed, and still do, that he married her after Sarah died not before. The author explains why she wrote it this way in her note at the end of the book. I personally don't agree with it, but this one part didn't affect my rating of the book - just thought I'd mention it.

I do like how this book made me think of different possibilities for things that aren't clear in scripture. I had always thought that Isaac was a young child when Abraham was going to sacrifice him, but now I wonder if he was older - maybe even fully grown? The author suggests that it might have been the shock of Abraham be willing to sacrifice Isaac that killed Sarah. If that's the case, that would have put Isaac around the age of thirty - I had heard some say he might have even of been thirty-three, the same age as our Savior when he died. It's something to ponder.

All in all, this was a very enjoyable book. One that made me think deeper about Biblical issues, which is always a good thing. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Biblical fiction.

***I received a complimentary copy of this book to review. I was asked to give my honest opinion of the book - which I have done.*** 




“Available February 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.” 


If you found this review helpful, will you please click yes HERE. Thanks!

BOOK DETAILS:
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Revell (February 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800734300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800734305
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Available to purchase at Amazon | B&N | CBD



Blogaholic Designs”=

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Acts of the Spirit-Filled: A Novel of the First Century by Johnnie R. Jones

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:

Johnnie R. Jones

and the book:

CrossHouse Publishing (January 10, 2013)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Johnnie R. Jones was saved in Hawaii in 1971. He was licensed to preach in 1974 and ordained in 1976. He has pastored churches in Virginia, Alaska, and Texas. He is a graduate of Tunstall High School, Dry Fork, Virginia; Dallas Baptist University, Dallas, Texas; and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. After high school, Johnnie served four years in the U.S. Air Force.

Johnnie has written articles for the Southern Baptist Texan and has written numerous articles for several daily newspapers. He is chief editor and publicist for SYD Publications, McKinney, Texas. He has authored four books and numerous booklets. Johnnie is currently founder and revivalist of His Abounding Grace Ministries, Inc., McKinney, Texas. This is volume one of a series of novels based on the first century A.D.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Martyrdom. Fraud. Stoning. Beheading. Miracles. The early church experienced it all!

The Bible's Book of Acts includes page after page of high drama, yet the average reader can't help but be struck with the gaps that exist in this New Testament account of the early believers. What happened to those individual, unsung followers who risked their lives to participate in the birth of the church? What pain and crises occurred among those who gave their all to advance the cause of Christ?

In his dramatic novel, Acts of the Spirit-Filled, Johnnie R. Jones helps the reader envision how common, oppressed people became empowered by God's Spirit and turned their world upside down with a powerful Gospel. Interweaving fictional dialogue, narration, and historic events, Jones paints a graphic picture of the struggles, trials, and passions that propelled Christianity forward during a dark and dangerous time.

This theatrical account of the early church is the first volume in Jones' Acts series and is based on events described in Chapters 1-12 of the New Testament Book of Acts.



Product Details:
List Price: $19.95
Paperback: 322 pages
Publisher: CrossHouse Publishing (January 10, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1613150385
ISBN-13: 978-1613150382



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Anno Domini
Circa 30



Prologue

“Deus Sol Invictus; Deus Sol Invictus!” Toward the east, Tiberius looked into the darkest hour. “Invincible god of the sun, arise and burn up the advances against my enemies!” The scribe wrote carefully as the emperor paced the floor, chanting toward the eastern horizon, awaiting the dawn of a new day. There was silence for a moment . . . then he spoke again. “There is a people whose love for the divine spurn our gods, and they spurn me!”
“O Divine One?” asked the scribe. “Who would dare spurn man’s deity? Who would dare spurn your power?”
The emperor continued his easterly gaze. “They see the Unseen One as their Deity—not our gods and not me!”
The scribe returned to his quiet writing. For hours, the emperor had been awake, pacing the floor, talking—speaking many words of random thoughts.
Suddenly, over the distant, eastern range, the sun burst forth in rays of beauty. “There, scribe!” the emperor cried, as he pointed to the sun. “There is one of our gods!” He shielded his eyes as he squinted at the brilliant ball of fire.
“Yes, Divine One, there is Sol.”
“How can these people not worship it? How can their Unseen One exceed the glory of this brilliance!?”
The scribe began to write again, but the emperor grabbed his quill and threw it to the floor. He lifted the scribe out of his chair and turned him to face the east. “Look with me, scribe; do you see beyond the sun? Is this not our supreme god!?”
The scribe feared to move his hand to shield the sun’s rays. He opened his eyes, trying not to disclose his indirect stare into the blinding ball of fire. “Divine One, many of your servants remain sightless today for trying to see into Sol. They say everything is now unseen.”  He raised his hand to shield the rays from the emperor’s eyes. “Divine One, do not attempt to see into it, lest it blind you as well.”  The emperor did not reject the scribe’s motion to shade his eyes. “You must continue to see so that words of divinity may be written.”
Tiberius released the scribe, who promptly picked up his writing tool, sat at his table, and gingerly dipped his quill tip into the ink. “My servants do not cherish what is written by me or the emperors before me. Augustus tried to appease these easterners with laws of moral fidelity—he even set up courts to uphold these laws. Yet these easterners ignore our rule over them. My commands do not inspire them. They abhor my edicts!”
He turned toward the scribe once again. “What have you written? Read the words to me!”
The scribe trembled. “O Divine One, these words are not ready to be repeated. Allow me time to straighten them out.”
“Straighten them out?” He reached out to grab the scribe’s pages, but stopped. “Straighten them out,” he said again. “Straighten them out.” He looked toward the east; his hand became a fist as he raised it into a beam of the sun’s invasion into the room. “Sol has given me a word of prophecy for the easterners: ‘straighten them out!’”




Near Bethany of Judea
Acts 1

A blinding light immersed the ascending figure, causing hundreds of onlookers to gasp and fall back to their knees. Only a handful of men remained standing, defying the radiant barrier. An awestruck silence overcame the crowd, that is, until a single voice cried out:
“Lord Jesus, don’t leave again!”
Peter stood with his hands and arms lifted toward the light. He was a disciple of Jesus—not just any disciple, but the one who Jesus had said would “shepherd” His followers, the one who would lead and protect His followers from the ravenous wolves of mankind. But he was not ready to go it alone without his Master—without Jesus beside him!
Peter ran to a large rock and climbed on top of it to get the attention of Him one last time.
“Jesus, it’s me—Peter! . . . Jesus!”
Too late—Jesus was engulfed into the brilliant cloud that continued to rise into the clear morning sky. Where is He going? Peter’s mind began racing to the controls of the next moment (a normal response of his). I want Him back—I need Him!
“Master, please come back.” This time he spoke in a surrendered voice—a voice that revealed the obvious: Jesus was gone. Peter shielded his eyes with his hands to stare at the bright cloud that had covered the One he had come to love.
Peter had surrendered to Jesus as the long-awaited Deliverer of Israel; He was the One of whom Moses spoke in the Sacred Writings:
“Jehovah God will raise up for you a Prophet, from the midst of your brothers, just like me; Him shall you listen to . . . and I will place My words into His mouth; and what I command, He shall speak.”
Peter was convinced: Jesus is that “Prophet;” I saw Him speak with Moses and Elijah! And the cloud—this same cloud!—overwhelmed us on that mountain top. On that mountain, the brilliance of the cloud momentarily engulfed him and two other disciples: James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Back then, he thought Jesus was preparing a new camp—a staging ground to wrest Jerusalem out of the grip of a troubled Roman Empire. But just as quick as the cloud appeared, it dissipated, taking Moses and Elijah with it.
Words of Jesus began to flood Peter’s mind: “Feed My sheep.” . . . “Before Abraham existed, I Am.” . . . “Destroy this temple and I will raise it up in three days.” . . . “Lazarus! Come forth!” He thought this through: Jesus proved Himself as the One who had power over life and, now, power over death. He is the Deliverer—the One to set our people free from the empire’s control. But why leave now? Why not deliver us now? This departure, however, was different; it was with finality.
Peter looked up toward the sky and spoke in his heart one more time: Jesus, my Master, please return now and lead us to restore the kingdom. We cannot seize the temple grounds without Your presence and without Your power. He slowly slid off the rock and looked up, only to see the fading remnants of the engulfing cloud.
Someone nearby broke the silence of the moment: “Why do you Galileans stand here gazing at the fading cloud? Jesus is gone; but He is coming back, just as you saw Him leave. Go now and do what He has told you to do.”
Peter glanced at the two men beside him and the others, and then looked back in the direction of the cloud. Do what He has told me? he repeated in his mind. Do what He has told me? Do exactly what? What do these strangers know that I don’t already know? Jesus has told me so much; I can’t begin to— He stopped abruptly. The men beside him were gone! Peter looked around; others seemed equally dazed at the occurrences of the moment.
“Where are they!?” Peter shouted, turning in a circle. He ran toward several other men and pushed them aside as if someone was hiding behind them. “I can’t take another disappearance! Where are they!?”
“Peter! Peter!” Another disciple, John, ran up to him, grabbed his shoulders, and looked him in the eyes. “Did you see them?”
“See who!? Where!? When!?”
“Those two men! Right here! Right now!”
Peter stared into the young lad’s face. Once again, he wondered why Jesus would include himself, a seasoned fisherman, to try to keep up with the younger men whom his Master had called to be His disciples. About a month ago, John easily outran him to a grave site where Jesus had been buried—Ah, but he was too afraid to venture in. Peter had to smile as he remembered the empty tomb of Jesus. That’s why Jesus chose me. Someone needs to take charge of these young men and lead them until He returns.
Peter brushed some dirt off his hands and straightened his outer garment. “Yes, I saw them. Now what did they say?”
“They were angels, Peter! They said that the Master would return again, just as He left us. So we must go back to Jerusalem and wait until the—”
“Wait?” Peter interrupted John. “I hate that word! Wait? After what the priests allowed those soldiers to do to Jesus? I say we recruit these men here, head back to the city, and take the temple away from those crucifying-hungry hypocrites! They all deserve to die.” He pointed to the sky. “And I bet that same cloud will show up again and Jesus will wipe them off the face of the earth. That’s what I say we should do; no more waiting!”
John was taken aback at the words he was hearing. He had been around Peter for over three years now and knew he had little patience. “Peter, please listen to me; I heard our Master specifically say that we must return and wait—‘wait for the promise of the Father,’ He said. Think about it: in the past forty days, He did not tell us that we would soon attack the temple, and He did not train us how to assemble an army of men. He trained us with His words, remember? It was His words that changed us. It was His words that calmed that storm on the Sea of Galilee; it was His words that pushed the temple guards back and onto the ground the night He was arrested. Peter, Jesus wants more than men’s brawn; He wants their whole being—He wants their hearts.”
Peter realized that, once again, his emotional reaction was premature. “John the Lover,” he said. “Always speaking from the heart.”  Peter looked around and saw the other disciples and friends looking toward him and John. “Yes, we should gather our bags, walk back to the grand old city, and prepare for our next move.” He spoke within hearing range of the other disciples. “Come on, men; it’s time to move on.”

While walking, Peter began to size up the crowd that remained. The 500 or so who had spent the day with Jesus were from various towns and villages, primarily in Judea. However, a mixed group from Galilee and Judea—about 120—was related to the disciples and household of Mary, Jesus’  mother. Jesus had referred to the disciples as His new “apostles”  for His “kingdom.” Some—including Peter—had wives and children.
Nicodemus and Joseph were members of the Sanhedrin council; they believed in Jesus, but remained secret followers so as to be aware of possible plots against His life. Next were some more men, their wives and children, and Mary Magdalene, who ministered to a small group of Galilean women—outcasts—but accepted by Jesus and who always seemed to be around whenever the Master taught. (Sometimes the women interrupted the Master’s teachings, bringing children and the sick to Him.)
Finally, there was Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her other children, though late in believing, yet joining now in the following. This comprised the 120 followers who were walking back to Jerusalem while the others fanned out onto the trails that led elsewhere.
“Go now, and do what He has told you to do.” Peter thought this through. I saw Him alive after the burial. I thought He was a ghost; but ghosts don’t eat fish and bread, do they? No, it was Him. I saw His death scars; He is alive now, but no longer as a man . . . why? What’s the purpose of His disappearance? And what’s the purpose of this following? I’m the oldest of the disciples—thirty-two—so I must put a plan together. I must know what to say and do when we get back to the villa.
“Andrew?” asked Peter, looking for his brother, who was another disciple. “Andrew, my parchment scholar?”
“Yes, my brother?” he said, with one eyebrow raised. “What are you wanting now?”
“I need your brains to help me. Find some papyri so you can write this down.”
“While walking? You are beside yourself! Can’t this wait until we get back to the courtyard?”
“No, no more waiting. I’ve got to formulate a plan, and we haven’t much time.”
Andrew surveyed his older brother’s face, with its wiry beard and receding hairline. It had the wear and tear of a typical, sunbaked fisherman. And right now, Peter’s face had that familiar look of determination which meant that there would be no deterring of his intentions. So Andrew began interrogating each among the group for some writing materials, hoping no one had any. But there were some parents with children that happened to have just what Andrew knew would satisfy his brother’s wish.
After retrieving the writing materials, he returned to Peter. “Very well, what do you want me to do with this? You know I can’t think, walk, and write at the same time.”
Peter laughed. “Yes, that is true. You have always had difficulty chewing grain and walking at the same time.” Andrew responded with a slight push. “Enough playing around. I want you to write what Jesus told us to do since He woke up from the land of the dead. What has He taught us?”
“James, John, Nathanael—the rest of you; I need your help over here,” shouted Andrew. “Master Peter wants some answers to what Jesus has taught us.”
“‛Master’?” asked some among them.
As the other disciples drew nearer to Peter, he shot a stern look toward his brother for making such a statement. “Now, now, men; you know that I have to be ready to speak up when the time comes.”
“Yes, we’ve noticed that trait in you, old man,” said Philip, Nathanael’s brother. The others laughed.
“Come now, brethren,” said John. “Let’s remember how Peter spoke up when we were too afraid to do so.”
“Afraid!?” objected Thomas. “Who said I was afraid?”
“Oh, have you forgotten the storm on the Sea of Galilee already?” asked John. The others laughed. Thomas mumbled something under his breath.
“What is it that you want, dear friend?” asked Nathanael.
Peter spoke up. “Since the empty tomb, what has Jesus taught us to do?”
The men began to consider together as they walked, feeling that Peter, a bit pushy at times, meant well with his observations.

After stopping a few times and allowing Andrew to write, they arrived at the city gate. Peter faced the others and asked, “What do we have so far?”
John spoke up quickly: “The first thing is: Go and proclaim the good news of Jesus as the Messiah.”
“Ah yes, the good news,” said Peter. “This is true. Next?”
Andrew responded. “The next thing we have come up with is: Teach and train those who wish to follow the Master’s cause.”
“I like that, but what about baptism?”
“I was about to ask that,” said Nathanael. “Don’t we baptize before we teach and train?”
“You answer this first,” said Andrew. “Do you see any rain clouds following us wherever we go?” Some laughed. “We baptize first, when there is available water and each person understands the cost of joining Jesus—and becoming a follower with us. However, if there is no water nearby, we teach and train those who respond to our proclamation and baptize later. Our Master’s emphasis was for us to ‘make disciples’.”
“Agreed,” interrupted Peter. “So we proclaim, baptize, and teach and train; what else have we come up with?”
“Worship Him!” John said. “We worship and adore Him as our Master, our Messiah, and our Savior.”
“Then let us appoint you as our worship leader,” said Peter.
“Amen, amen!” shouted the others in agreement.
“Now, what else?” asked Peter.
“Fellowship and the breaking of bread and drinking from the fruit of the vine, in remembrance of His death and life,” responded Simon the Zealot.
“And keep the juice fresh and diluted so as not to intoxicate the younger followers,” said Judas, son of James.
“Amen, amen,” said the others.
“Who among us will take charge of our communion memorial with our Lord?” asked Peter.
“John and I have access to some used temple utensils,” said James. “We’ll take on that responsibility.” Previously, their father was a Levite and rotated in duties in the temple.
“‘We’?” asked John. “Do you have a field mouse in your garment?”
“Come now, John,” said James. “This is a part of our worship and you are our new worship leader.”
Peter wanted to press on. “Okay, you siblings work this out among yourselves and report back to us. What else? Is there anything missing of which Jesus instructed us?”
“Power,” said Matthew, another of the apostles. “Jesus said we would have power from His Spirit to do His will.”
“That’s right,” said Peter. “Anyone have a suggestion as to how we get this ‘Spirit power’?”
“Wait!” said John.
Peter turned and faced the youthful lad. “Wait, my son?”
“Yes, Jesus specifically told us to wait in the city until the promise of His Father’s Spirit comes to us. His Spirit will come and bring us power.”
“How long do we wait, John?” asked Peter.
“I don’t know.”
“Neither do I; do any of you have a message from Jesus as to how long we wait?” There was no response. “Don’t we have His teachings fresh in our minds? Shouldn’t we go to the temple courtyard and begin to proclaim His message—the gospel?”
Andrew could sense his brother’s drudgery of waiting. He knew how Peter hated to wait for anything. But Andrew knew Matthew and John were correct, so how could he tell his older brother to listen to them—especially listen to John, the youngest of them all? “Peter, my brother, remember in the garden, where you cut off that man’s ear?”
“What has that to do with this?”
“Listen, my brother; we all heard the Master say to wait in the city until this power comes upon us. None of us fully understand His plans to rule over the kingdom, but He just now told us not to worry about how we were to do it, but to wait until the power of His Spirit comes upon us.”
Peter stood there, running his fingers through his beard and looking into the eyes of the others. Again, Andrew spoke up: “I say we let our newly appointed worship leader prepare us for some times of praying, singing of psalms, fellowshiping, and get us through the Feast of Pentecost, which ends next week.”
“Amen, amen!” shouted the others.
“Yes,” said Peter as he embraced Andrew. “And let’s start with the food fellowship—I’m hungry!”
“Amen, amen!” they all shouted again. As they entered the city, they all walked with a sense of togetherness and purpose.
† † †
Matthew pondered the turn of events as he entered the city of Jerusalem. He saw and experienced the ascension of Jesus; but, like the others, he was equally confused as to how Jesus planned to wrest the kingdom of His people from Roman rule. He knew the Romans well from his tax-collecting duties. They were a harsh breed with a strong military.
But Jesus had power like nothing he had ever witnessed before. Matthew had previously observed the power of Jesus against a host of temple soldiers: “Who are you looking for?” He asked the soldiers who came to arrest Him.
“Jesus, the Nazarene,” they replied.
“I am He.” But when He said that, an unseen force pushed them back and caused them all to fall down. His power was supernatural!
But now Jesus is gone; how can He continue to lead? How can this transfer of power occur? “Wait,” said Jesus. “Wait until you are enveloped in power from the Holy Spirit.” Surely this meant He was coming back. Surely this meant that the restoration of all Judea would soon take place through some sort of supernatural manifestation.
Matthew struggled with his newfound “job” as a proclaimer of this new “Way” into God’s kingdom. I was a tax collector; I dealt with statistics and money, he thought. I enjoy working alone; I’m not a proclaimer, so how can I best serve Him? What can I do to further this cause?
Matthew thought back to his decision to leave the tax business and follow Jesus. When he looked into the eyes of Jesus, he saw hope—hope of a restoration with his family, who had disowned him because of his job. And hope of a restoration with his God. He believed Jesus when He said everything was going to be restored. And with Him nearby, nothing was impossible. Then came a startling statement from Him: “In a few days I will be turned over to the authorities, and I will be gone.” And now He was.
But no sooner had Jesus left than He returned. Three days later He appeared; Jesus was back! But not as before: He appeared as in a body, but not as regular flesh and blood. He did have a body—He ate before them; but then He vanished right before their very eyes! Later, Jesus came back and taught them and revealed to them how He fulfilled all the prophecies concerning the Messiah. But why depart now? And why wait? This indeed was puzzling. Nevertheless, it was the command of the Master; now he and the others must obey.
† † †
As Philip walked with the others, his mind also raced through the encounters with Jesus since He had risen from the dead. The disciples and others went into seclusion after the crucifixion for fear of the high priest and the authorities. But Jesus found us—He appeared before us behind locked doors! He was alive! He was real—but then, as quickly as Jesus appeared, He left again. Eight days later, He appeared again to teach Thomas not to doubt His presence and the ability to reveal Himself.
His presence was external, but then He “breathed” on them and said, “Receive now the Holy Spirit.” And just like that, His presence was felt inwardly like never before! Jesus was as real, in His Spirit, as He was previously in His flesh.
I feel Your presence, my Lord, he said silently as he walked. You are with me—You are with us inwardly, as You were outwardly in the flesh. Philip recalled how Jesus appeared to the group on numerous occasions, after His resurrection. He taught them how the prophets’ foretelling of the current events related to the Messiah. Like never before, the words of the prophets became a present reality. The pieces of the prophetic puzzle began to fit.
But, again, why “wait”? What is this power going to do to us that Your presence has not already done?
Philip looked at the others; the disciples appeared to be in deep thought as well as discussing with Andrew about the main things Jesus was teaching them. “Wait until . . .” I suppose we will soon fit some final pieces of this puzzle together.
† † †
James observed his younger brother, John, as he was promoted to worship leader for the group. This reminded him of their father, Zebedee, a Levite, who had been active once as a worship leader for the priests at the temple. But his zeal to purify the Jewish system by dethroning the Herodian kingship brought conflict between the Herodians and the families of the current high-priestly lineage. To keep the peace—and power—the high priest demoted Zebedee to the daily affairs of preparing food for the other priests. That’s what led Zebedee to move to Capernaum to become a fishing merchant—and a successful one at that.
Jesus called James and John the Boanerges—“Sons of Thunder”—due to their vocal dislike of the high priest’s authority. Their father’s zeal was passed on to them, which made them targets of the ruling authorities. James remembered several times when Jesus had to intercede to prevent the Boanerges from causing conflict and physical harm to those to whom He was sent to minister.
But didn’t Jesus change all that? Shouldn’t they use that “thunder”  and speak for Jesus now? But He said, “Wait.” James could hardly comprehend the waiting command. With Jesus’ spiritual presence, why couldn’t the group go to the Sanhedrin council and demonstrate who Jesus actually is? And why not sit down with the high priest and his court and demonstrate how the Master’s power could change everything? Besides, the family of the high priest knew Zebedee; surely the high priest would be reasonable with the sons of Zebedee and their friends? These thoughts occupied James’ mind as they walked back to the city to “wait.”
† † †
As she walked near the men, Mary of Magdala—also known as Mary Magdalene—listened as the apostles were describing things Jesus taught them after His resurrection. She thought back through the past month. Jesus wasn’t “teaching” me as much as He was showing me how to love Him and others. He told me how my obedience to His words was an indication of my love for Him. I love Him so much! But how can I, a single woman with a bad reputation, reveal His love to others? She did not want to walk back to Jerusalem, but to stay where she last saw Jesus. She quickly dabbed her eyes, trying to catch her tears.
“Patience, my dear,” said a voice beside her, as they walked. It was Mary, the mother of Jesus. “In time, He will reveal His plan for you.”
“Do you think I can fit in with His plans?” she asked between her sobs.
Mary smiled and held her hand. “If He knows every bird that falls to the ground, I believe He knows your heart as well. You were special to Him, and I know He is going to use you in a special way. We must have faith in Him and wait for His plan to be revealed to us all. He has promised that His presence will be known by all us who love Him.” Then she gently squeezed Mary’s hand and ventured away from her.
My Lord, Mary Magdalene prayed, I will wait as long as it takes . . . but please don’t delay Your return.
† † †
“How long must we wait, Lord?” It was Peter’s shift to offer prayers, and he was anxious to move on. A week had passed, and still there was no sign of the “promise.” He looked at a few others, some kneeling and some lying on their mats, but all asking Jesus to come and bring the promise from the Father, which they understood to be the presence and power of His Spirit. “Is the ‘promise’ Your Spirit, Jesus? Will You be seen by us but not the others? Will You dictate to us our every move? Or is it the Spirit of You in someone else, as the Father did through the kings and the prophets of our forefathers?” Peter continued to pray.
“Peter, James, Matthew!” shouted John, as he leaped two steps at a time coming up to the prayer room.
“Shhh!” said Peter. “It’s the Sabbath, John; don’t be so loud.”
John lowered his voice. “Oh, please excuse me; I’m so excited. James, our Master’s brother, has returned from Bethany! He’s in the courtyard, and he’s brought Lazarus and his two sisters, Martha and Mary!”
Maybe Your brother is our promised spiritual leader? thought Peter, as he stood up. Lord Jesus, please reveal this to me. I need some sort of sign that he is truly the one promised to reveal our takeover plans. I will submit to him, I promise.
James arrived with an entourage, his face shielded by his headgear as he walked into the outer court. Peter stepped slowly down the stairway, shrouding his feelings of anxiety. A week had transpired since the abrupt departure of Jesus. Now there were only two days left before the end of the Pentecost observance.
"Wait," Peter whispered to himself. "Wait until the power to lead us comes." Peter greets James, "James, peace to you, my brother. And how was your journey?"
“Peace to you, Peter. Fine, the journey has been prosperous. And you?”
“We continue to wait, just as your brother told us.”
“Yes; that is what He told us.”
“So, has He spoken to you? Have you seen Him?”
“No, I’m afraid not, Peter. Oh, hello Mother; so good to see you.” James stepped over toward Mary, as she approached the men. They each embraced and kissed.
“My dear son, so good to see your journey is ended and you have arrived safely.”
“Nothing to worry about, woman; the excitement of an insurrection is fading, and the Romans have ceased their close scrutiny over us. It also appears that the priests have ended their watch on Lazarus and have returned to their regular duties, keeping us at a distance.” John was standing next to Mary. “And you, Mother; has John seen to your needs?”
She put her arm around John. “Yes, my son, like Jesus Himself. He is so youthful and so caring. But I do miss your brother. Oh, that He would return once more; I miss Him so.”
“He’s coming back,” said John. “He said He would come back.”
“Yes, He did, John,” said James. “But I’m afraid my doubts about Him may be causing the delay.”
“No!” Peter raised his voice. “Don’t say that! If anyone is to blame, it’s me. I was the one who denied Him openly. Yet He came back to me and forgave me. Remember? He forgave me.”
“But I am his brother; I should have known better.”
Mary gave them both a stern look. “Stop it, both of you! Jesus has forgiven us all for our doubts and misunderstandings.” Then she smiled. “Now is not the time to bring back old sins of fear and doubt. We must believe Him and wait. We must prepare for these final two days of Pentecost and continue to wait.”
“I have it!” said Peter. “We’re off balance! We need another!”
“Whatever do you mean?” asked James. “What is ‘off balance’?”
“Twelve—Jesus chose twelve; now we’re only eleven. Quickly; we must gather everyone together and choose another.”
“Now what?” said Thomas, sitting at a nearby table. “Can’t we just accept that this is it? We must have misunderstood His commands. Don’t you agree, Matthew?”
“Hmm; I think we should listen to the old man,” spoke Matthew. “Maybe he is dreaming again.”
Peter ignored Matthew’s verbal jab. “Matthew, Thomas—all of you listen to me. It has always been our custom to honor our forefathers with the proper representation. Jesus chose twelve of us as His disciples; now we must replace ‘the traitor.’”
“Judas Iscariot?” asked Thomas.
“Please!—don’t say that name in my presence!”
“Peter,” said John. “Calm down or we’ll have to rub more herbs on your neck.”
The others began to laugh. Peter’s face and neck always flushed a deep red when he got overly excited. Matthew pulled a cloth out of his tunic. “Here, now, let me wipe the sweat off your brow.”
“Leave me alone! I tell you, we must select another.”
“Listen, everyone,” said John, “Please gather around us. Peter has a revelation.”
Thomas rolled his eyes.
“Ahem,” Peter cleared his throat. “Brothers and sisters, we must confront the need to honor our forefathers by selecting another follower to replace ‘the traitor.’ We know that he died according to the writings of our prophets, and I just now remember another writing that says we must replace him with another. I believe this may be the missing piece of the puzzle that prevents the return of our Master’s Spirit. We must select another.”
“Are you sure you’re reading our prophets correctly?” asked Thomas.
“Yes, I’m quite sure. This verse has come to me during many a catch of fish. God always promised me replacements for those I caught. And what He says to me about fish, I believe He says to me now about selecting another man to be one of the Twelve.”
“Then why not James, our Master’s brother? Or Lazarus?” asked Bartholomew.
“Well . . . well, because neither was there at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry when He was baptized by John. The one who joins us must be able to testify of all that Jesus began to do and teach, from the start to the present.”
“Who among us has been with us since the beginning of our Master’s baptism?” asked Nathanael. After a brief survey of the attendants, two men were found who met the requirements and agreed to be selected as an apostle—one of the Twelve: Joseph Barsabas (also known as Justus) and Matthias.
No one objected to the proceedings, except John. “Peter, shouldn’t we do what the Master said, and wait? Shouldn’t we let Him choose the replacement just as He chose us all?”
“Wait? And how long do we wait? What if this very thing is stalling His return? Do you want to continue to delay our Master’s return? I say we choose one of these men.”
“And how do you propose to do that?” asked Philip, joining them from the upper chamber.
“Uh, well, we’ll have them draw straws.” That brought a laugh or two. “Or lots—that’s right! Who has a set of lots?”
By now, the whole courtyard was filled with followers of Jesus.
Someone handed Peter a set of lots. “Step back and give me some room, will you?” said Peter, as he bent down on his knees. “Now let’s pray: Jesus, our Master, you know our hearts’ desires are to do Your will. We ask of You, please select the one to fill in the empty space of the one who betrayed You. Let this meet Your approval by the arrival of Your promise; and, Jesus, come back to us soon; Amen.”
“In His name, Peter,” said John.
“What?”
“Remember, He said to ask in His name.”
“Oh; yes, so He did. In Your name, Jesus, we ask of You.” Peter looked around, but no one was moving. All eyes appeared to be on him. “Okay, prepare the lots . . . Brothers, may Jesus choose between you two.”
The lots were cast and the name selected was Matthias.
“My dear brother, please come and kneel before the Lord
. . . Here is another, Master Jesus, who brings us to twelve. We ask of You to receive him, in Your name, amen.”
“Amen, amen,” responded others.
“Now let me get back to our meal,” said Mary. “Come Martha, Mary; we have a lot of preparations to complete.”

Supper ended with a gathering around the apostles as they broke bread together to celebrate communion with their Master. John led the group through several of the psalms and odes from the Sacred Writings. Next, Andrew read a portion of Isaiah. Then, Peter stood to share a few words of encouragement to the followers. After a few minutes, he concluded.
“Tomorrow is the final day for the Feast of Pentecost,” said Peter. “Let us finish our usual prayer shift this evening and then, tomorrow, we’ll all join together for a celebrated season of prayer at daybreak.”
As everyone began to break up into their family groups, Perpetua, Peter’s wife, and Petronilla, their daughter, approached him. “Shouldn’t we be heading back home soon?” asked Perpetua.
“Abba, Father, please can we leave? I want to go home.” She nestled up close to him. The feel of her long black hair and the smell of her mild perfume gave him great inner warmth and gratefulness for his dear family.
“Now is not the time to discuss our trip back to Galilee, my dear woman,” he said to his wife. “Jesus wants us together for the time being. Look at me, my darling Pet.” She raised her head from his lap. “Jesus has specifically told us to wait for His power to come. Remember that power, my darling? It was that same power that raised your grandmother from her sick bed.”
“Ohhh,” she responded slowly.
“You and your mother may have to go ahead of me; but let’s talk about that after tomorrow’s festivities. Now you two go and prepare for bed; I’ll join you in a few minutes.” As they walked away, Peter looked around the room. Lazarus was at a window looking out over the eastern sky. He walked over to him. “Lazarus, my brother; how are you feeling these days?”
Lazarus smiled. “I am blessed beyond measure. I am alive to see how Jesus plans to change the world. This is a blessing indeed.”
“Well, He’d better come soon or the authorities will soon break up our gathering.”
“Patience, my brother; Jesus waited four days before lifting me out of the grave. Every delay is another opportunity to trust Him more.”
“I suppose you’re right; but I am anxious to see Him once more . . . Good night, and sleep well.”
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