Month: October 2014 (page 1 of 2)

What’s Happening Wednesday: October #Shelfie + Giveaway!

Hey, readers! We’re super excited about the new books out this month. To celebrate, we’re giving away these three great novels: The Auschwitz Escape (softcover), Buttermilk Sky, and A Robertson Family Christmas. Each winner will receive a novel, randomly chosen, plus a magnetic poetry set!

Enter through the Punchtab widget below!

October Shelfie

Good luck!

Don’t Take Me Out to the Ball Game: How (Not) Playing Sports Builds Character— Author Jake Smith on Values

 Today we welcome debut author Jake Smith onto the blog as he shares with us a little on his family, sports, and what it all means to him. Don’t forget to scroll down below for a prize packed giveaway including his debut novel, Wish.

***

Take Me Out to the Ball Game . . . or the Lake . . . or the Hobby Shop . . . or . . .

As usual, a smattering of Little League World Series games played across the Smith family TV in late August. Stunning, the ability of these kids. It felt different watching them this year, as my 12-year-old son, Pete, a baseball nut, had finished up his Little League season a couple of months earlier. Had things turned out differently, we could’ve found ourselves in Williamsport.

But it wasn’t because his team lost in the state finals for Michigan. Actually, Pete didn’t even play on the team from northern Michigan that competed in the play-offs.

As Pete’s regular season wrapped up, the decision arrived about whether or not to try out for the all-star team. This tryout pulls together kids from all of the other teams and selects a dozen who will go on to compete in various travel tournaments leading up to the play-offs that, as long as they keep winning, could land them on ESPN during the national finals. In two previous years, Pete tried out for the all-star team in his appropriate age bracket, and both times he failed to make the team. The way his 12-year-old season was shaping up, however, redemption seemed at hand. Especially when the all-star coach continued asking if he was going to try out.

The schedule, however, didn’t just include the weekend tournaments. Practices, every day. And recommendations from the coach on what kinds of activities the players shouldn’t do during the day if they wanted to stay fresh for the baseball field.

In short, Pete saw that his entire summer would be determined by his baseball coach.

We left it up to him, painting a realistic picture—the potential for some wonderful experiences and lots of baseball, but also the sacrifice that would come with making such a commitment. And the family things he would certainly miss out on. He took only a few minutes to decide. “There’s too many other things I want to do this summer, Dad.”

Pete learned how to fly-fish, wading in a river and discovering where trout hide. He started playing his flute at church. He took great leaps in his tae kwon do lessons. We spent time at the beach in perfect sun-drenched days. I had my entire family around me on Father’s Day at a Detroit Tigers game, which they won in the bottom of the ninth inning. We visited out-of-town family. He embarked on a new hobby of building model airplanes, the smell of enamel paint and rubber cement flooding me with childhood memories. We explored the library and he read. A lot.

There’s no doubt sports build character: teamwork, coping with failure and disappointment, handling success, sportsmanship. Life lessons, all. But character is also built in the decision not to play and on the paths that decision can lead a young person . . . when the family walks those paths together. The imagination nurtured. The diverse experiences gained. The family bonds deepened. The perfect blend is where the skills and lessons of sports and non-sports overlap.

Pete discovered that summer isn’t defined by baseball. Neither is life. We dedicate and commit ourselves to certain things—a career, a passion, an activity—but none of those things define us. Family does. And our relationships. And our faith.

It’s the difference between what we do and who we are.

***

Thanks, Jake, for stopping by the blog today!

Wish

Wish is available in stores and online now. Click the image to go to the product page.

Don’t forget to enter our Facebook giveaway for a chance to win a prize bag full of books, including Jake Smith’s debut, Wish.

 Facebook Kickoff Giveaway

Click here to enter our Crazy4Fiction Facebook giveaway!

Have a wonderful weekend, readers!

Crazy4Fiction Sneak Peak: Francine Rivers on False Idols

Morning, fiction readers! In our daily lives, we all have struggles. Today on the blog, christian fiction author Francine Rivers shares with us some of her struggles and how God can help keep us centered on what’s important. Scroll down below to see sneak peek photos from Francine’s current trip to South Africa and find out how you can win her latest release, Bridge to Haven.

“They (the people) replied, ‘You must show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What will you do for us? After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! As the Scriptures say, “Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.” Jesus said, ‘I assure you, Moses didn’t give them bread from heaven. My Father did. And now He offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘give us that bread every day of our lives.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am the Bread of Heaven. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in Me will never thirst . . .’” (John 6:30-35).

American Idols

One idol that periodically troubles me is food. Or maybe it’s weight. My mother got on the scale every day of her life and adjusted what she ate according to the numbers. It sounds obsessive, but she was health conscious because she had been very ill with tuberculosis in her twenties. I saw a picture of her in a bathing suit and said, “Wow, Mom. You were so slim.” Her response:  “I wasn’t slim. I was sick and skinny.” She wanted to maintain a healthy weight.

What is a healthy weight? The new fad is for a woman to have gaps between her thighs. Really? All through grade school and high school, I didn’t want gaps. I wanted my thighs to meet and be toned and tanned. I’m laughing as I write this. I finally got the meeting part. Forget toned and tanned. And now that I’m in my late sixties, I don’t give a hoot. Well, I do, but I’m not willing to diet and exercise or lie in the sunshine all slathered with oil. It’s hot out there! I want shade or air-conditioning. And who cares anyway? My legs still get me from point A to point B. That’s good news.

Idols have a tendency to destroy. I think of the young and old women suffering with bulimia and anorexia and now, the newly added diagnosis of orthorexia. What’s that? “Ortho” is the Greek word for “straight, correct, or true.” Those suffering with this eating disorder reject everything that is “impure,” cutting out all sugar, processed foods, or anything that hints of unwholesomeness. The disorder is sometimes called the “Whole Foods Syndrome.” One man, a vegan, said in a newspaper interview that he wouldn’t eat anything that might have lost its “life force” by being separated too long from its source (i.e. vine, plant, tree). This is taking vegan to another level, a dangerous one that nearly took his life.

God made food to nourish our bodies. Food is one of the many blessings He gave us to enjoy. How easily the mind can turn something wonderful into something that we put on an altar.

I’ve tried just about every diet that any women’s magazine has touted over the years. I realize that for me the word diet is problematic. Mention the word diet and I get hungry! Food becomes my focus. I would think about when and what I could eat. I would grieve over what I had to give up. (Chocolate and barbecue kettle chips.) I would count calories and measure portion sizes. I would get on the scale each morning and check my weight to see if whatever diet-of-choice was working . . .

I don’t diet anymore. I learned that all too often the hunger I’m feeling has nothing to do with what I need to put in my stomach and everything to do with what I need to fill my mind and heart. Sometimes food is just a way to stuff the real issues down deep or deny them altogether. Sometimes the craving has nothing at all to do with food and everything to do with yearning for God to satisfy the hunger for a deep, abiding, indwelling relationship with our Creator, our Father, the Lover of our Soul.

Food is needful and wonderful, but don’t make it an idol.

This October, Francine Rivers is visiting South Africa and would love to meet YOU.  Click here for full details on her public appearances and book signings.

Below is a sneak peek at her trip thus far.

Francine Signing S Africa

She had a book signing and listened to a presentation from the staff at Christian Art that celebrated over 1 million copies of her books sold in English and Afrikaans in South Africa.

S African Signing

Francine entered the warehouse at Christian Arts to the singing and rejoicing of an African choir of employees.

Washing S Africa

There was a wonderful traditional African dinner to close out our evening. The waitress sang a blessing to us in Swahili as we washed.

Don’t forget to enter our Facebook giveaway for a chance to win a prize bag full of books, including Francine’s latest release Bridge to Haven.

Facebook Kickoff Giveaway

Click here to enter our Crazy4Fiction Facebook giveaway!

Happy reading!

Crazy4Fiction Facebook Giveaway!

Morning, readers! To celebrate the kickoff of our brand new Crazy4Fiction Facebook page, enter through the Punchtab widget below to win some amazing books!

Novels include:

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers
The Auschwitz Escape
by Joel C. Rosenberg
The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate
Driftwood Tides by Gina Holmes
The Midwife by Jolina Petersheim
All Right Here by Carre Armstrong Gardner
Wish by Jake Smith
The Fight by Luke Wordley
A Robertson Family Christmas by Miss Kay Robertson
Evergreen by Susan May Warren

Note: If you’re having troubles using the widget, try opening this contest through a different browser. If issues persist, please leave a comment below.

Giveaway ends Monday morning, Oct. 20th.

Good luck!

Facebook Kickoff Giveaway

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