Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My girls and I have tickets to the Trans Siberian Orchestra Concert tonight in Jackson. Third Row!!!! I realized I haven't posted anything about this awesome event here at blogger, so here is what I posted back in 2005. All the excitement still holds true!

Trans Siberian Orchestra
November 11, 2005

Black dresses and tuxedos.
“Flight of the Bumblebee”.
Creative lighting.
Stringed instruments.
Awesome lasers.
“Beethoven’s Fifth”.
Intense pyrotechnics.
Electric guitars.
Unbelievable drums.
Maestro keyboardists.
“Carol of the Bells”.

What could all these possibly have in common?

These eclectic components come together brilliantly in the most incredible show I’ve ever seen. They are Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO), and they were in Jackson last night. Kyle, Cassie, and I experienced it from the twenty-fourth row. (This year from the 3rd!)

“Christmas Eve in Sarajevo” (a.k.a. “Carol of the Bells”) is what grips and draws me to TSO. Their rendition is like no other and continually gives me chill bumps. I think it’s because I’ve walked the streets of Sarajevo and seen first hand the massive destruction of the Bosnian war on buildings and lives. I can’t begin to describe TSO’s interpretation. I invite you to listen for yourself. “Christmas Eve in Sarajevo”. Hopefully this will open for you. If not, go to http://www.trans-siberianorchestra.com/, click on “multimedia”, and scroll down to “Christmas Eve in Sarajevo”. To discover the source of the title you must go to “Discography” and find “Christmas Eve and Other Stories”.

You’ll discover it’s a rock opera. (Is that an oxymoron??)

What a night!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Scenes

Just sharing some scenes of Christmas around our house:


Here are the snowflake cookies we baked celebrating the first snow of the season. (But not of the year! Two snowfalls in one year in Mississippi! Who'd have thought it!)

Oliver LOVES the tree skirt that sports handprints of my kids through the years.


My two favorite girls in the whole world in front of our "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree!


Remember how to make the origami stars I posted several days ago? (If you don't, click here.) Well, yesterday I made some out of the Sunday comics. Even my girls think these are cute. (Be extra careful if you make these out of comics, the paper is thinner and more prone to tear.)




More scenes later!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pictures of the Snow!

It's been such a great day. Words can't describe the joyful feeling I get from watching snow fall. My girls and I enjoyed it immensely. The electricity went out which only added to the festive feeling since we could sit around enjoying the fire. We drank hot cocoa and will soon bake snowflake shaped sugar cookies. (Now that the power is back on.) Here are some snapshots of "our" winter wonderland:

Our backyard as the snow started.

Our backyard a little later.

No hanging out clothes today!

Our front yard after it had snowed a while.

Candace captured this cardinal.

I loved watching the birds come to the feeder.

Candace had a friend come over. We took a little excursion.

Candace trying to get me with a snowball. Her friend is smart and took off a little farther.

We stopped by the community cemetery.

Our dog Sam had to be included.



It was a beautiful day!

Drum roll please.....

IT...IS...SNOWING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Hope to have pictures later today!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Making Gift Bags

I have quite a few "Happy" gifts to give this year. You know the kind - tokens of love for friends, family, Sunday school classes, party favors, etc. Wrapping can get expensive, even if the paper, bags, and bows come from the $-Tree. I know this idea isn't new, but I thought I'd share what I'm doing this year.

Take a regular paper bag. (This is a lunch bag. I hope to get some white ones later.)

Measure and mark 4 and 6 inches from the top and draw lines on both sides of the bag.


Gently begin rolling down the top edge all the way around. This is the tricky part. Do it slowly. There may be some tearing, but it shouldn't show when you are finished.

Keep rolling it down until the top edge meets the 4 inch line. Make sure the fold is crisp. (Sorry I didn't get this picture turned around.)


Now do the same thing with your new top edge. This time meet the 6 inch mark.

Walah!
Decorate any way you want using paints, markers, crayons, whatever! The possibilities are endless! Punch holes and add ribbon handles in the color and style of your choice. A little tissue paper will complete the look.

Aren't they adorable?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Go Saints!

March, 2008, Cassie decided to purchase the perfect gift for Raymond...tickets to a Saints game. (When she saw the price she decided it would be the perfect Birthday-Father's Day-Christmas gift.) Her plan was to buy a pair of tickets for her and Raymond, but Kyle really, really wanted to go. Since Cassie wasn't willing to buy his, he paid for his own. Even way back in March the rival game between the Saints and the Atlanta Falcons was nearly sold out, and she couldn't purchase just three tickets. They only came in sets of two. I paid for the fourth one and was reimbursed by my MIL who wanted to go too.

We held that wonderful secret until Father's Day when Cassie presented her perfect gift. Raymond was speechless and in disbelief. It was, indeed, the perfect gift for him. Then came the long wait from June to December 7th. During that time Mawmaw had her terrible accident. There was no way she would make the game. She graciously gave her ticket to me.

Yesterday was the big day!
Kyle, Raymond, Cassie, and me before we left at 7:00 AM. (#25 Reggie Bush, #26 Deuce McAllister, Cassie and I in "Souther Belle" shirts that say, "Southern Belles Love Their Saints!")

Louisianna Super Dome!


Pictures don't do it justice. It's breath-taking to view the field for the first time.

Awwww...brother and sister love each other...at least when Mom makes them smile. :-)

Part of my favorite team...the Jeffcoats!

It was an awesome day, and the Saints won 29 - 25!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Happy Thankgiving to all! Our family of 5 will celebrate here at home, then travel to the hospital to spend some time with my Mother-in-Law who is doing well in rehab after accidentally cutting her foot off over a week ago.

Our menu for today:

Grilled Ribeye steaks (Bought on sale!)
Yeast rolls - from scratch
Mac and cheese - from scratch
Butter beans - home grown, picked, and frozen
Deviled Eggs - from scratch
Pecan pie - from scratch
Cherry Cheese cake - from a box mix :-)

Yum! Yum!

I'd better get back to cooking now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Mother-in-Law Accidentally Cut Off Her Foot

Now, if that doesn't get your attention, I don't know what will. My First reaction was WHAT?!?!?!?! I mean, how does one accidentally cut off their foot?!?!?!? Well, some of the details are sketchy, but here's what I think I know: She had just hooked her little dog to a cable in the yard before going to revival. Somehow the cable unknowingly got wrapped around her foot and she drove off severing her foot just above the ankle. I'm not exactly sure how help came, but Johnny (Raymond's step-brother) managed to get her to the hospital in Poplarville, MS. (Which is a very, very small community hospital.) From there she was air-lifted to Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg where they did surgery to clean up the wound. They were unable to re-attach her foot. She received 3 units of blood. The family was able to see her before surgery. She has a long road of recovery ahead of her both physically and emotionally. The doctor said there will most probably be other surgeries. I'm not sure what this means for our immediate family. She will need care for a long time. Will she come live with us? I'm more than willing for that to happen, but we have to move from this house by the middle of January. We have a couple of temporary options, but we need permanent ones. Raymond has a temporary job, but we need a permanent one. It has been a very, very trying few months for us. Yet God has generously provided our needs and I'm more than grateful to everyone He's used to do that. I keep hearing God say, "I'm in control. Wait on Me." When I got in my car last night to drive home "Everlasting God" was playing on KLOVE. If you know that song it says, "Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord." That's what I'm trying to do today.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Huh?

I read a CNN article today that begs for comment. It seems that D.C. buses will soon be carrying this message: "Why believe in god? Just be good for goodness' sake". Believe it or not, that's not what I'm commenting on.

Top of the page bullets summarize the article. The last point being: "Humanist spokesman says agnostics, atheists feel isolated during holidays" This is where I go, "Huh?" I mean, why should agnostics and atheists feel isolated during the holidays? Let's face it, Thanksgiving and Christmas (or Hanukkah or Ramadan for that matter) aren't their holidays! There is no one to thank on Thanksgiving and no one to celebrate on Christmas if there's no God. Why should they feel left out or even care?

My family and I lived in a Muslim part of Europe for two years. We never felt "isolated" during their holidays. Though we are Christians we'd sometimes be invited to share in a special meal (and awesome goodies such as baklava!!) for friendship's sake, but never did we feel isolated. Why should we? We weren't Muslim; those weren't our holidays!

America is a free country; if people don't want to believe in God (or don't care about God) that's their right. But don't whine about the holidays! After all, the word "holiday" is a contraction of "holy" and "day". If someone doesn't believe in anything holy, then they've missed out in more ways than one. That's their choice. If they happen to be included in the festivities of people of faith, then do it for friendship's sake and be blessed. Ooops...can't be blessed if there is no "Higher Power".

I'm off my soap box now.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

God's Word to me today via Kay Arthur

"O precious One, whatever your need, learn to run first to the out-stretched arms of Calvary where you will find His all-sufficient grace, grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 416). Then wait...wait on the Lord, that He might provide in His perfect way and His perfect time all your need. Not to do so is to end up in the horrible distress that comes when we will not walk in obedience of faith."

from Teach Me How to Live A second devotional journey with Kay Arthur

Friday, November 7, 2008

Interesting Sight...

We had rain last night. Today there was a bouquet of mushrooms in the yard.
Isn't it cool?








Any ideas on what kind this is? (Comes from one root.) Could it be the Armillaria tabescens?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Christmas Star

A couple of years ago a dear friend of the family made an origami star out of $1.00 bills. It was so cool! I decided it would be a great Christmas ornament if done in yellow paper.

I was right! Isn't it cute?

I just cut some paper the size of dollar bills and then followed the video I found.

Enjoy!


5 Dollar Origami Star -

You can turn the sound down as it only has written instructions. The music is just background.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Giving Thanks

My friend Amy over at Dandelion Seeds is "Giving Thanks Every Day" for her blessings. I'm not organized enough to post every day, but I'd like to post some things I'm thankful for as they come to mind. I've been in the doldrums lately, but really shouldn't be with so many blessings. Here I go:
1. I talked with two ladies today who lost husbands when they were young. I'm thankful I still have my wonderful husband of 24 years.
2. Our family was blessed with a very generous, anonymous, monetary gift today.
3. A friend blessed me with a very thoughtful and creative gift today.
4. I went to vote with my son today...it was his first time.
5. This morning on my walk I saw a large flock of birds fly over in perfect "V" formation. It made me feel peaceful to know such organization couldn't just have "happened".
6. We've been invited to eat supper with some dear friends tonight.
**to be continued**

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Your Grace is Enough...Or is it????

2 Corinthians 12:9 But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

**Pretend you hear Chris Tomlin singing “Your Grace is Enough” in the background. If you have a hard time pretending you can click here.**

I love this song.

I've sung it with the radio while driving to Wal-mart.

I've sung it live in Daytona Beach, Florida with Chris Tomlin. (I was part of the audience.)

I've sung it with my praise team as we led Sunday morning worship.

I've sung it in my head as I've completed chores around the house.

Maybe you have too. It's a catchy tune reminding us of Paul's great declaration of God's sufficient grace in 2 Corinthians 12:9.


I have no doubt that in reality all we truly need is God's grace. He said it Himself: My grace is sufficient for you. And God does not lie. He knows that the absolutely worst thing that can happen to us is hell, and His grace and brutal sacrifice offer us deliverance from that. My question is: Do we believe it? Do I believe it? There's a lot going on in my life right now, and I'll confess that too often I find myself weak, vulnerable, and complaining. If I was completely honest the song might go something like this:

Your Grace - plus a good paying job, nice house, plenty of food, faithful friends, and healthy bodies - is enough for me. (Hmm...doesn't flow quite as well, does it?)

I'm reminded time and time again: God gave me everything He had when He gave me grace. He gave me Himself. Everything else should pale in comparison.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Seven Things God Does Not Know

When I was either a senior in high school or a freshman in college (about 25 years ago), my pastor preached a sermon entitled "Seven Things God Does Not Know". I was captivated by the title and wrote down all seven points. I carried that piece of paper for years until I eventually lost it. Well, the lost has been found. (Cleaning up and packing does have a way of bringing things to the surface.) I want to share these seven things with my readers just because I think they are interesting and so maybe I won't misplace them again. :-) (Verses in parentheses were found by me.)

Hey, Bro. Maxie, you should be proud I remembered that sermon after all these years! :-)

Friday, October 24, 2008

"Sleeping Dust Bunnies: Do Not Disturb"

Hurricane CP has disturbed my poor, sleeping dust bunnies. (If you have no clue what I'm talking about, click on the link.)


I've been cleaning out and have already gathered 8 or 9 boxes of junk treasures for an upcoming garage sale. A friend asked if I was throwing "off everything that hinders". I had to laugh. I'm keeping waaaay too much stuff to say I'm "Throwing off everything."

But I am cleaning out things that have needed it for a long time. (I'm sure the trash collectors wish I'd stop.)
Today I popped over a dozen unmarked CDs into the computer to figure out what was on them.
In more serious news...my husband had a nuclear stress test this past Monday. (Come to think of it, this should be a breeze compared to Hurricane CP.)

According to the doctor there is a 90% chance Raymond has a blockage. He will be having a Cardiac Cath done this coming Monday around 8:00 AM.

Please pray that all goes well and that if something is wrong it can be fixed without surgery.

Thanks! Have a blessed weekend!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Becoming My Mother

Becoming My Mother

It’s official – I’ve turned into my mother.

I suspected as much last summer when we were both caught wearing similar bathrobes and slippers. It became clearer upon discovering both our pre-Katrina preparations included boiling eggs and filling the bathtub with water. Let’s face it, for years we’ve laugh at the same jokes, enjoyed the same books and movies, and appreciated good puns. (Not everyone can, you know.) And in spite of the fact she loves squash, which I despise; my notions that I was becoming my mother were recently validated at the local Dollar General Store.

“I’ve got to get a pair of reading glasses,” she began. “I just can’t read the fine print on boxes anymore.” As she perused the reading glass rack my suspicion was confirmed, for it wasn’t my mother who was trying them on and speaking, it was me!

I’ve always had 20/20 vision and became slightly irritated when my mother would say, “Just a minute, let me get my glasses first,” every time I asked her to look at something. Over the past year, however, I’ve noticed a few changes. Manufacturers have changed the print size on their packaging, the light by my reading chair has grown dimmer, and people have been standing too close to my face during conversations.

Alas, the evidence mounted to beyond a reasonable doubt, so I scheduled an appointment with the optometrist. “When you reach forty your eye muscles start weakening,” she politely said during the exam. “You could use a pair of reading glasses.” What she meant was, “Nothing’s wrong with you; you’re just getting older.” Well meaning? Yes, but it brought little comfort coming from a twenty-six year old.

My mother and mother-in-law are forty…well, er... at least they were the last time I noticed. My mother-in-law’s fortieth birthday celebration was only yesterday. Wasn’t it? I was madly in love with her son at the time. The simple fact she was my boyfriend’s mother meant she was old. (Ahem…I mean old-er.) My own mother was forty when I married that same fellow, and we’ve only been married a mere…let’s see…twenty-one years. Twenty-one years?!?!? Yikes! That makes me…oh, my!...forty-one! How did that creep up on me?!?!?! That means I’m old! (I mean old-er.)

To be honest, turning into my mother isn’t such a horrid thing. She’s smart, caring, a hard worker, has a heart for God, and can make an awesome pan of chicken and dumplings. She has a great sense of humor and a love of books that’s been passed down to me and at least one granddaughter. She has a creative side I greatly admire, is a good listener, and repeatedly puts her faith into action. I consider myself blessed to be her child.

I modeled my new reading glasses for my own children the night I got them. “They’re cute!” one said kindly. Another wasn’t quite so tactful. “You look like Grandma,” she declared.

Actually, I hope I do.

© Drewe Llyn Jeffcoat 2005

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rescue Operations

I’ll be honest; sometimes I get tired of praying. (Is anyone else honest enough to admit it, or am I the only one?) Sometimes I feel as if it is a waste of time. How many hours have I prayed for So and So’s marriage to be salvaged, for Such and Such loved one to be saved, or for Dear Friend to be delivered from “this or that” only to see no visible results? It gets frustrating and downright discouraging to say the least. I was at that point the other day, wondering why I “waste” my time on seemingly futile petitions.

It was then I turned to 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.

The Apostle Paul tells of a personal time of testing which was so severe he and his companions “despaired even of life” because it was “beyond our ability to endure”. We think of Paul as being a true hero of the faith, a pillar of strength and wisdom, and yet even he reached a point lower than low. I’m sure he could have thrown himself a nice pity party, feeling forsaken by the One he’d given his entire being to serve. He could have whined and complained about how unfair life is and given it all up to take a nice day job. But not Paul; even in the storm he saw God’s hand and purpose, “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” His faith did not waver. He knew God would deliver him, and He did.

Now, here’s the part about prayer:

“And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation…” (Emphasis mine) 2 Corinthians 1:11 The Message

The great Apostle Paul’s rescue, though ultimately by the hand of God, was somehow tied to the prayers of his friends - fellow believers! Paul is telling them this after the rescue which means their prayers made a life and death difference in Paul’s life though the petitioners were oblivious to the outcome at the time.

It makes me think.

Is there someone sinking today because I’ve given up the “rescue operation”? Is someone’s eternal destination in question because I’ve not been diligent in my intercessions? Is deliverance just around the corner waiting for one last petition?

There’s too much at stake for me to give up now.

© Drewe Llyn Jeffcoat 2006


(Author’s note: My use of The Message is by no means an endorsement of the entire book. The Message is a paraphrase whose author has put the Scripture into his own words. While a good devotional tool, a translation such as The New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation, King James Version, or New King James Version is a more accurate choice. I chose to use The Message for this particular devotion because this particular wording captured my attention, causing me to see prayer in a new way. A quick comparison with the NIV reveals this passage is accurate in the Message. Not all passages are.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Posts

Please don't think I've suddenly become prolifically inspired because I've just posted so many blogs. I'm really just adding some things to Blogger that I had previously posted other places. I guess I'm putting all my eggs in one basket. Hope I don't drop it! LOL!

Have a blessed day everyone!

Picking Blueberries


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“Are you about ready to head back to the house?” I called out to my mother.

“I’m not leaving until I’ve picked this branch clean, my bucket gets full, or it starts to rain,” was her reply. My mother and I were together in her blueberry patch this particular overcast Saturday. I knew that “picking the branch clean” was my mother’s technique for picking blueberries. This simply meant she was going to pick every ripe berry off her part of the bush, leaving only the green ones behind. I glanced at her branch, her bucket, and the sky and decided the threat of rain was our quickest relief from berry picking.

Sweat and mosquitoes aside, I actually admire my mother’s leave-no-leaf-unturned-leave-no-ripe-berries-behind attitude. She knows where she’s been and where she needs to go. Her goal is clear…pick berries. I, on the other hand, have a slightly different attitude and approach. I’d rather roam through the bushes seeking out clusters of ripe berries that can be picked all at one time – preferable at eye level. I figure the birds can have the high ones and the ‘coons can have the low ones. I certainly don’t want to get scratched up reaching deep in the middle either, and forget those isolated berries hanging by themselves in hard to reach places. They can turn to seed for all I care. Basically, give me the convenient ones. This is a great strategy for my goal, which is to fill my bucket as quickly as possible.


Suddenly it occurred to me that too often we as Christians win souls to the kingdom in much the same way I approach blueberry picking. (I’ve been guilty myself.)

Let me explain.

We gladly seek the salvation of those who are at eye level, the ones we see more clearly such as immediate family members, close friends, and the lost that come to church. Sometimes we stretch a little further to reach out to colleagues and neighbors; our basic goal being to fill our “bucket” (a.k.a. church). (Should we compare the number of times we’ve invited people to church instead of to Jesus?) But we certainly don’t want to stoop too low or stretch too high or reach too deep to share the forgiving, redeeming love of Jesus. Stooping, stretching, and reaching can be uncomfortable. There are prickles deep in those bushes. OUCH! We certainly don’t want to get hurt. That’s it, isn’t it? We want our churches full of people, but we don’t want to leave our comfort zone to get them there. The fact is, most of those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus live outside our comfort zone. They live in Africa, Bosnia, and New York City. They live in prison, on skid row, or at the rehab center. Their skin is sometimes lighter or darker than ours. Their speech is foreign to us either because it is a totally different language altogether or because “nice” people don’t talk like that. Sometimes they are children who wiggle too much, or perhaps don’t know the “proper” way to dress for church, or maybe they ask questions that make us feel uncomfortable or inadequate.

God is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). He cares if the “birds” get the ones on top and if the “’coons” get the ones on bottom. They are all precious in His sight. O, that God would open our eyes to every precious soul; those in our comfort zone and those outside of it. May we be willing to stretch spiritually, bow in humility, and seek out even the one who is lost in hard to reach places. May God grant us perseverance to “pick” our communities clean, leaving no stone unturned, no soul unreached with the good news of Jesus.

"And there will be much rejoicing in heaven over even one..." (Luke 15:7)

Reworking my approach with you,
Drewe Llyn

© 2004 Drewe Llyn Jeffcoat

Every Good and Perfect Gift

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"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created." ~ James 1:16-17


(c) 2006 Drewe Llyn Jeffcoat - Seen in my flower bed.

The Power of One

The Christmas season is quickly approaching which means soon I will settle down and watch my all time holiday favorite It's a Wonderful Life. To some it is an outdated, even cheesy movie (a phrase my teenagers use...whatever that means) which is probably why I often find myself watching it alone. Yet it has been on my Christmas "to do" list every year for about fifteen years now, still giving me warm-fuzzies and hope.

In this classic tale, George Bailey has dreams, big dreams. He wants to leave small town USA and travel the world to accomplish great and exciting things. He seems to be well on his way when a series of unfortunate events (not to be confused with another movie by that title) keeps George in Bedford Falls working at the old Savings and Loan, his worst nightmare come true.

One Christmas Eve, when life looks bleakest for George, his efforts to commit suicide are thwarted by an unlikely angel who gives him a glimpse of what life would be like if he had never been born. As Clarence the Angel takes Goerge to familiar people and places, he discovers that his life actually made a tremendous difference in his town, neighbors, and friends. The world was a better place with him in it.


Changing the world would seem to be the role of political leaders, powerful CEO's, brilliant scientists, or rich investors. Yet George made a profound difference by simply living a life of love and integrity. That's the part that gives me both the warm fuzzies and the hope - simple people making a world of difference.


But, It's a Wonderful Life is merely a movie, isn't it? We all know movies have "happily-ever-after" endings, when real life seldom does. Is it too much to hope that ordinary, real people can have such an impact?

Recently I came across this verse in Jeremiah:

"Roam through the streets of Jerusalem. Look and take note; search in her squares. If you find a single person, anyone who acts justly, who seeks to be faithful, then I will forgive her." (Jeremiah 5:1)

Ancient Jerusalem was wicked, so much so that God decided to destroy her. Jeremiah the Prophet was sent to warn the city about her impending doom. There was one hope for the city, however; God told Jeremiah He would spare the city if even one just and faithful person (meaning someone sold out to God) could be found. That's worth repeating: God would spare the entire city if only one godly person lived there! Unfortunately, there wasn't one found, not even one, who still pleased God. So God eventually allowed the city to be destroyed by her enemies. Many died, many were taking captive, and many were left homeless all because there wasn't one person who was faithful. God summed it up when He said to the prophet, Ezekiel, "I looked for a man among them who would ...stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none." (Ezekiel 22:30)

Clarence once said to George, "Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"


Yes, indeed, each life touches each other in ways we can't even imagine. One person sold out to God has the power of life; the lack of one the power of death.


Will we be that one person in our family, our community, our city?






James 1:1-4 Part 1

I decided I need to be memorizing Scripture, but which ones? There are so many to choose from that I usually feel overwhelmed and memorize nothing. (Isn't that just what Satan wants?) I finally settled on James...the entire book. I made this decision in March, 2006 and I've only learned James 1:1-18. But I figure that's 18 verses I didn't know. I'll just keep working on them as I take my morning walk. Not only am I memorizing, I'm pondering and jotting down my thoughts on those verses then sharing what I've learned and discovred with my Sunday school class. I thought I might share some of them here and hope you will be challenged and encouraged. Perhaps you'll even pray for me to be dilligent and listening for His voice in this undertaking.

~ Drewe Llyn

Pure Joy
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2-3


Pure joy? Pure joy?!?!?! Let’s be honest, how many of us really consider trials a “pure joy”? When the washing machine goes out with six loads of dirty laundry still on the floor, when a co-worker spreads hurtful gossip around the office, when there are more bills than money to pay them, when that self-breast exam reveals a highly suspicious lump, when the police confirm your daughter has been arrested for dealing drugs, when a spouse dies after a long and painful illness, it is difficult to maintain a positive attitude, much less one of joy. How we can consider such difficulties “joy” is a difficult concept, one I must confess I’ve not mastered. Perhaps it simply needs to be accepted in obedience and with the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows much more than we do.

A Personal Story

Several years ago our family faced a minor trial, one that wasn’t earth-shaking nor life-shattering, but it served as a reminder to give thanks in all circumstances. (1)

Our son, a ninth grader at the time, rode to school every morning with a friend who often ran late. This caused them to arrive just past the bell several mornings, a fact that didn’t bother the friend's first teacher of the day, but after the third time our son received early morning in-school suspension. Needless to say his father and I were not happy; one of us would have to drive him the ten miles to school an hour early on the day of the suspension. It was an aggravating inconvenience, one we grumbled about for days before hand.

After dropping our son off early that day, I went on to do some errands. Around 9:00 a.m. I received a phone call from my husband saying the friend had been in a car wreck that morning. My first thought? “Thank you, God, our son wasn’t in the car.” Later I asked about the friend who was a little shaken, but fine. But how would our son have been had he been in the car? Thankfully we don’t know. How funny I could be joyful about the tardy AFTER I saw how it worked out. Yet God really wanted me, wants us, to be thankful, even joyful, about our trials, trusting that He knows best, and that truly, somehow, though we can’t see it, He has our best interest in mind.


Quote:

“God is too good to be unkind, too wise to be mistaken and, when you cannot trace His hand, you can always trust His heart.” ~Charles Spurgeon, British Baptist Preacher (1834-1892)

Think about it:

Have you ever experienced a trial which you were thankful for after it was over?

Do we really trust God to have our best interest in mind?

Read Romans 8:28. Does everything work for good for everyone? (2)

What exactly did Spurgeon mean in his above quote?

Take a look at Hebrews 12:2. What joy could Christ have possibly seen in and beyond the horror of the Cross? (3)


(1) 1 Thessalonians 5:18
(2) This promise is for those who love God.
(3) I believe Jesus saw us, spending eternity with Him, as the joy set before Him.
(c) 2006 Drewe Llyn Jeffcoat

James 1:1-4 Part 2

Trials of Many Kinds

Trials certainly do come in many, or various, kinds. They range from spilled milk, flat tires, and long lines, to wayward children, terminal illnesses, and death of loved ones. Though they vary in degree, these many trials still require a degree of faith to weather them successfully. That is the goal, not to survive, but to come out the other side victorious. The Greek word here for “testing” is “Dokimion” which means “the proving” or “that by which something is tried or proved, a test.”

When those children spill their milk on the floor three times in the same day, could it simply be an opportunity to “prove” our faith? To show grace? Might any difficult circumstance be a chance to demonstrate, to one degree or another, our faith to a lost world?

Think about it

What was the last “trial” you faced? What did the way you handled it say about your relationship with Christ?



Why Trials Come

Why bad things happen to good people has perplexed mankind for thousands of years. Right living should be rewarded with smooth sailing, we think, and wrong living should reap hardships. The mechanics of life would be much simpler if that were the case; it would put the power of our “destiny” in our own hands. Yet, as Job found out and as we will explore later, life just isn’t that cut and dry.
While only God knows all, we can find several reasons for “trials” in the Scriptures, most of which are beyond our control:



Personal Sin

Let’s go ahead and get this one out of the way. Yes, sometimes our difficulties arise as a result of our own sin. As much as we bask in the love of God, we must remember He is also a God of wrath(1) and judgment.(2) Sin does bring consequences, and we should never forget it. God took David and Bathsheba’s first-born son as punishment for their sin.(3) The Children of Israel were condemned to wander in the wilderness an extra forty years because of their unbelief. (4) Ananias and Sapphira (5) were struck dead because of lying to the Holy Spirit.


Think about it

Can you think of examples when someone’s trial (or even your own) was brought about by personal sin?

If someone abuses their body with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or wrong eating, they may then reap the trials of health problems. Entering into sexual relationships forbidden by God will most likely reap marital problems, un-intended pregnancies, emotional trauma, or sexually transmitted diseases. Breaking any of God’s commands, even down to lying and gossiping, bring not only spiritual, but also physical, emotional, and relational struggles, struggles of our own making.


Reminder

Though it is true “A man reaps what he sows.”(6) This fact makes it too easy to pass judgment on those experiencing trials and tribulations. Somehow we feel better if we think someone’s troubles are the result of their sin, that they somehow deserve what they are going through. On the other hand, Satan loves to oppress people when they are struggling because of their mistakes, making them think God doesn’t love them anymore or making them feel so guilty they assume they can’t seek God’s forgiveness. Nothing is further from the truth. We are told in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

That’s a promise to hold on to.

Next time we will cover other "reasons" for trials.

James 1:1-4 Part 3

Sins of Others

When Pharaoh(1) refused the release of the Israelites, his entire nation suffered. When the adults of Israel refused to enter the Promised Land, their children had to wander with them for forty years. When the disciples weren’t prayed up the demon possessed boy(2) remained in spiritual bondage. (Until Jesus came, that is.) It is the same with us. When someone steps into sin, it brings grief and hardship to those around him/her. Just ask the betrayed wife, the victims of a drunk-driving accident, the abused child. Our sins affect other people.
Reminder

Though we can’t control the actions of others, and we often bear the results of their sin, there is great comfort in this promise: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (3)

Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, was able to declare years later, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (4)

We serve a God Who is more than able to turn tragic situations into beautiful testimonies of His redeeming power.

James 1:1-4 Part 4

James 1:1-4

Time of Preparation/Proving

Naomi experienced the famine in Israel, moved to a foreign country, and lost both sons and a husband. Yet it was there she met Ruth(1), who would become the many-great-grandmother of Jesus.

Young Joseph (2) was sold by his own brothers into slavery as a result, in part, to his inability to control his tongue. Once in Egypt, though, he was an exemplary youth, upright in all his ways. His righteous refusal to sleep with Potiphar’s wife landed him in prison(3). Yet God used these two years as a time to prepare Joseph for the great task planned (4) for him. (5)

Jesus was without sin (6), and yet He suffered forty, hungry days in the wilderness (7) before beginning His earthly ministry.

The disciples were in the boat with Jesus, right where they were supposed to be, when a storm arose griping their hearts with fear. Yet without the storm, there would have been no “Peace, be still” (8), a lost opportunity to really know the Prince of Peace.

A Personal Story

The years 2000-2001 found the Jeffcoat family in a war-ravaged part of Europe serving a two year missionary term. I cannot overstate how difficult this period of time was for us. It didn’t take long for my “Wow, God!” to become “Oh, God! What did I do to deserve this? Have we made some mistake? Are we being punished?” Yet, we knew absolutely God had told us to be there. Obedience to God shouldn’t be so painful, should it? It took a while for me to realize that sometimes our obedience is a trial, a time of pruning(9), if you will.


Reminder

During our “pruning” time, someone said, “If you feel as if God is spending a lot of time ‘trimming your branches’, it is only because He sees something worth using in your life. He tosses those He can’t use into the fire.” (10)

Also realize that every period of preparation and proving is followed by fruit bearing/and or spiritual breakthrough. Ruth became part of the genealogy of Christ, Joseph became second in command of a nation, Jesus saved the world, the disciples changed the world, and the Jeffcoat family learned that when Jesus is all you have, He truly is all you need.

(1) Ruth
(2) Genesis 37
(3) Genesis 39
(4) Gensis 41
(5) Disclaimer: This is a prime example of why we cannot put our trials into neat packages. Joseph’s jail term was the result of Potiphar’s wife’s sin, persecution for being righteous, and was ultimately a time of preparation. I chose to place it in this category because it is an excellent example of a preparation/proving.
(6)
Hebrews 4:15
(7) Matthew 4:1-11
(8) Mark 4:35-41
(9) John 15:2
(10) John 15:5-6

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thank you!

Dear Rhonda, Julie, Wyatt, and Russell,
Thank so much for your encouraging comments as we try to recover from Hurricane CP. The winds are still blowing. I'm wondering where the eye of the storm is. However, I do know WHO has His eyes on the storm and can work through the storm to bring glory to Himself. Thanks to all you Roberts for the invite to Quest :-) . I hope to see you there sometime. Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Many around me are speaking death, thank you for speaking life.
Your sister in Christ,
Drewe Llyn

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hurricane CP

My husband lost his job.
I've lost my job.
We've lost our church family.
We've lost our home.
If something miraculous doesn't happen we will all lose our friends, our town, and our lives as we've known it for six+ years.
What has happended? We've been struck by hurricane Church Politics.


Hurricane CP is similar to Gustav, Ike, or Katrina. It brews for a while over warm waters of discontent and hurt feelings. There is always the possibility it will dimish and amount to nothing leaving peaceful waters for smooth sailing. Then again, if the desire for power and the power players are just right, it will grow into a full blown storm reeking havic on everyone in the church. There is no controlling CP once it gets it's momentum ...it will hit though predicting exactly when and where it will make landfall is a little tricky.


CP made landfall this week at our church. It was a category 5 storm. And while it has affected everyone, only the pastor and his family (a.k.a. us) lost everything. Everyone else still has their job, their home, their friends and neighbors, their town, and pretty much the lives they've known for the last 6+ years.


Did I say we lost everything? That's not really true. We still have our integrity. Our family. True friends.* And a God who says, "I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?"



(* Actually the majority of the church overwhelmingly supports us and for that we are truly, truly grateful, but a fight will only cause more damage. Such is the life of CP.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Another Hubby Update

Let me thank everyone for their continued prayers on behalf of Raymond and me. It is 6:02 PM. We've been home about 45 minutes. Raymond had restful night's sleep due to a sleeping pill. (I didn't get a sleeping pill, so my sleep left lots to be desired.) He went for a stress test at 11:25. He made it through the test fine. We had to wait several hours to receive news that the test was normal. Then we waited a little longer for the doctor to come see us. What he said is this: "The stress test was normal which means we will discharge you as low risk, not "no risk" for a heart attack. Just because it is normal doesn't mean all your arteries are clear. There could be the beginnings of blockage. I want you to see a cardiologist within the week." Raymond is experience some minor pains, but nothing close to the severity of Saturday night. While I'm extremely grateful to know he didn't have a heart attack and that his tests look good, both of us are still wondering what happened Saturday night and what caused it. Pain like that just isn't normal. So, I'd like to ask you to ask God to lead us to the doctor(s) Raymond needs to see and to give wisdom so we can get to the root of this.
God bless!
Drewe Llyn

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dear "Anonymous"

Yesterday you were struggling and left some comments on my blog. Since I don't know who you are or how to contact you, I have left you a word or two of encouragement underneath those posts. Click here to see them:

Thinking Suicide? Wait!!!

New Life

I'm praying for you.

Update on Hubby

Here's the latest....Raymond's last blood work was good except for his tryglicerides - forgive the spelling -which were 800. Supposed to be less than 100 I think. That could be because he had two hamburgers and a milkshake yesterday evening. They are keeping him in the observation room today and will do a stress test tomorrow. He says he is still having some minor pains, but nothing like yesterday. My mother-in-law is with him now. I am heading for a nap as soon as I'm finished updating. I'll stay with him tonight. (I WILL take my own pillow with me. LOL!) Thank you again for your prayers. I'm asking God to give the doctors and nurses wisdom to know and find out exactly what is wrong. Severe chest pains just aren't normal. I'll update again when I have something new. Thank you for your prayers!

In Him,
Drewe Llyn

Pray for My Husband

I took my husband (Raymond) to the Baptist Hospital ER last night around 10:00 because he was having severe chest pains. Preliminary test results don't indicate a heart attack, but the Dr. said it was too early to really tell. They kept him overnight for observation. As of this post (8:06 AM CST) the Dr. hasn't come back in with any more results. They eventually got the pains to subside. I slept a very restless 4.5 hours on a hard, narrow, fold-out chair in his observation room. I have a ton of responsibilities at church today, so I came on home. I'm tired, stressed, and a bit light-headed. Please keep us in your prayers today. I'll update later....when I know something else.
Thanks!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

End of the Spear

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End of the Spear
By Steve Saint


If your life has been touched in any way by the true story of five missionaries martyred in Ecuador in 1956 trying to reach a brutal tribe with the Gospel,
if you’ve ever doubted whether love is truly stronger than hate,
if you’ve never seen the transforming power of Christ,
if you want your faith strengthened and challenged, or
if you doubt whether God is able to bring good out of evil, then this is a must read.

End of the Spear was written by the son of martyred missionary Nate Saint. Here Steve tells how completely intertwined his life became with the very ones who murdered his father and the other missionaries. His is a story of heart ache, adventure, forgiveness, and love. “Truth is stranger than fiction” so the saying goes; nowhere is that more evident than in End of the Spear. Even if you saw the movie by the same title (which was poignant in its own right) you need to read the book as book and movie complement rather than detract from each other. Be prepared to laugh, cry, and be totally amazed with our awesome Redeemer.

~ Reviewed by Drewe Llyn Jeffcoat

Under the Overpass

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Under the Overpass
by Mike Yankoski


What would God show you, what would He say to you, how would He change you if you forsook your upper-middle class college life to live on the streets for five months as a homeless person? Sounds crazy, doesn't it, to leave all and follow Christ into a dying, lost word?

In the spring and summer of 2003 Mike Yankoski and Sam Purvis did just that. You can read about their life-changing experience on the streets in Under the Overpass.

Prepare to be shaken, challenged, and changed.
~ Drewe Llyn Jeffcoat

Through Gates of Splendor/ These Strange Ashes



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Through Gates of Splendor and These Strange Ashes
Both by Elisabeth Elliot


On January 6, 1956, five American missionaries were speared to death in their attempt to bring the Gospel to the Waodani, a brutal Indian tribe located in Ecuador. Through Gates of Splendor is the poignant retelling of that story by one of the widows. Later, that widow (Elisabeth Elliot), her daughter, and a sister to one of those killed lived among the Waodoni eventually leading them to Christ.

I don’t remember how I discovered this book, but it was my first glimpse into real lives 100% totally sold out to Jesus regardless the cost. It left me awestruck, challenging my own level of devotion to the cause of Christ. It built upon what God had been stirring in my heart with In His Steps. I also feel it planted the seeds which eventually grew into my own heart for missions and our family’s two year service overseas. In some ways that service was disappointing, leaving me empty. Elliot’s These Strange Ashes – another incredible book about self-sacrifice- helped me put that experience into perspective which is this: it’s all about Christ and my relationship with Him. (These Strange Ashes is a must read for anyone going through a severe time of testing.)

The Through Gates of Splendor story has been retold in a new film scheduled to be released on January 20, 2006. My husband and I were privileged to a free screening last night. You won’t want to miss End of the Spear. It is rated PG-13 due to violence. (Let’s face it, spearing to death is not a pleasant thing to watch.) There is also quite a bit of flesh showing, however, if you’ve read Elliot’s The Savage my Kinsman you will quickly realize the film covers more flesh than the real tribe did. It is told from Mincayani’s perspective. (He’s one of the killers.) All the Indian dialogue is in subtitles creating a greater sense of realism. The film is a must see and is evangelical in nature, though not pushy. My only disappointment is that it left, in my view, the conversion of Micayani underplayed. In reality, a church was planted among the Waodani people and Micayani baptized Nate Saint’s son, Steve, in the same river where he murdered Steve’s dad.

Another outstanding telling of this story is is Fate of the Yellow Woodbee by Dave and Neta Jackson. (A trailblazer book and great children's read-a-loud.)
~ Reviewed by Drewe Llyn Jeffcoat

The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers

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I was not quite four years old when "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood" made its television debut on February 19, 1968. I'm not sure if my family wasn't able to pick it up, or if my parents limited my t.v. consumption allowing me only one viewing per day. Whatever the case, my own childhood t.v. memories revolve around Sesame Street which first aired November 10, 1969.


It really doesn't matter when I first "met" Mr. Rogers via tv, it just matters that I did. He became such a part of my children's lives that then 4 year-old Kyle was distraught we had to take his 1-year-old sister to the Urgent Care for stitches during "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood". I don't blame him. I always found "The Neighborhood" to be a peaceful place where children were highly valued - everyone was highly valued. We "went" to see how crayons and assorted other things were manufactured, and who couldn't love Daniel Striped Tiger?

Though my children had outgrown the show by the time Fred Rogers died, we were all still saddened by news of his death. The man was gentle and kind, traits hard to come by in today's television market.

Mr. Rogers granted few interviews for he knew the habit of many in the media to distort the facts. He did, however, grant a couple of interviews to a woman by the name of Amy Hollingsworth which sparked a close friendship. After Rogers' death, Amy wrote a book about the man behind the very successful "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood".

While I would not add The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers to my list of life-changing books, I highly recommend it for anyone who get's warm-fuzzies when they are around trollies or who often catch themselves singing "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." Fred Rogers' faith was deep and real. He considered the space between the television and the viewer to be sacred ground which required him to be in tune with the Holy Spirit each and every day.

I think even we adults could learn a thing or two from Mr. Rogers' simple faith.


~ Drewe Llyn Jeffcoat

World Trade Center

I have some thoughts on the movie World Trade Center and felt this was the best place to share them....


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My husband and I recently went to the movies to see World Trade Center, and I’ve been asked if it is a good movie. I’m not exactly sure how to respond.

“Good” sometimes means “well made” and since I’m not a professional movie critic I’m not really qualified to say if it is Oscar material or not. (Who even knows what “Oscar Material” is anyway?) I just know what I like and what I don’t, and I can’t really say I liked this movie.
“Good” can mean “family friendly?” In this case that would be a negative. There was more foul language than I care for my children (or even myself) to hear. (Though I understand why certain word choices were made.) It was a very emotional movie and probably too intense for young viewers.

If “good” is synonymous with “entertaining” it once again fails the test. An “entertaining” movie should leave you with a smile or warm fuzzy feelings. At the very least you should leave the theater with a skip in your step or a new thought or feeling to ponder. An “entertaining” movie should never leave you depressed. This one left me with a heavy heart.

Though it fails all the above criteria I would still recommend seeing World Trade Center. It is a poignant reminder of the fateful day the twin towers fell. It puts real faces on the 9-11 catastrophe. It is a dramatic reminder of the heroism and fortitude of the American people who put their lives on the line for others. And for that reason I recommend it.

There are those who feel re-living 9-11 is detrimental to our nation and our relationship with our Islamic neighbors. Many feel we should allow those wounds to heal and not generate more hostility and hatred toward our adversaries through the replaying of those horrific events. While the remembrance of 911 may, indeed, spark new waves of anger and revenge in the hearts of some, we must continue honoring those people who sacrificially worked to save the lives of strangers. We must mourn the innocents who died that day. And most importantly, we must never forget that America is vulnerable. We might be “indivisible” but we aren’t invincible. We may have prosperity, freedoms, and power that most of the world covets, but we are not indestructible. If nothing else, reliving 9-11 brings us back to our knees, back to the place where we no longer trust in our military might or “superior” government, but in God Almighty who is our only true refuge, strength, and ever present help in time of trouble.
Perhaps that’s what 9-11-01 was all about.


The LORD foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth-
he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.
No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 33:10-22 (NIV)

~ Drewe Llyn Jeffcoat


Facing the Giants


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Ok, so our family is a little behind the times as I'm sure we were the last people to see Facing the Giants. I had heard the story was good but the acting was bad; I also knew it was another one of those underdog-makes-good movies (which seem to be in abundance). For those reasons I didn't race to the theater or the video store. I figured I'd get around to watching it eventually. Well, eventually came last night and now I feel the need to throw my thoughts into the movie critic arena.

I seriously doubt any of the actors will receive Academy Award nominations, and it was another underdog-makes-good movie. However, as Cassie put it, "The acting isn't very good, but by the end of the movie you don't really care because the story is so good." How true! And while it may be another "Cinderella" kind of story, it is unlike any you've ever seen before. When things go bad, God gets the glory. When things turn around and start going well, God gets the credit and the glory. (You just won't find that in a Disney movie!) The movie's message is clearly "With God all things are Possible", and by the end your faith is reaffirmed and you have confidence that God can indeed do anything. So, while the story may be fiction, the God Facing the Giants honors is real and intimately active in the lives of His children.

I think one of the most important characters in the story is the gentleman who walks the halls every week praying over the kids' lockers asking God to raise up a generation that loves Him. His prayers seem to be the catalyst for all the miracles to come. (Hmm? I wonder what would happen if we diligently prayed for our youth that way and that consistently....)

~ Drewe Llyn

The Circle Trilogy

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Black, Red, and White – The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker

For those of us who grew up in church, can name all sixty-six books of the Bible (spelling most of them correctly), and memorized John 3:16 before we were out of diapers (well, maybe not quite that soon) sometimes (and I hate to admit it), sometimes those poignant and life-changing stories of old become (how do I say this) mundane…too familiar…taken for granted.

In steps Ted Dekker with his Circle Trilogy to save the day, or at least give us a fresh glimpse of our heritage and our faith. Even non-believers will enjoy this series as they are full of action, suspense, passion, and all the things that make for a good story. If someone like Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings fame) got hold of this it would become an epic film. Be prepared to see the Bible come to life in a completely unexpected way.

What happens when Thomas hits his head and awakes in another reality only to find that somehow he’s the key to saving both worlds? Which reality is real anyway? What will happen if someone drinks the water of Teeleh? Just how far will someone go to save the one he loves? Will the Raison Strain actually destroy earth as we know it? Who is Elyon? What is the Great Romance all about? Where did all those black bats come from? To find out, start by picking up Black, but be forewarned, you’ll have trouble putting it down so make sure someone else is keeping an eye on supper…it might burn while you're turning pages.