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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sir Bentley and Holbrook Court

I'm happy to be part of a family of voracious readers. Two of those readers are young. My oldest reads 400+ page novels in a day and can retell all the main points, themes, and her favorite characters.

As a mom, I'm often stumped for books to recommend or purchase for her. I want something that stirs the imagination, entertains, and at the same time encourages her to love God more.

Given her ability to read far faster than I could dream about doing, I can't keep up. So I depend on recommendations from others.

And because I've benefited so much from great recommendations, I wanted to share some information about Sir Bentley and Holbrook Court, a novel by Chuck Black for ages 9-12, which released February 17th. First you'll find a book summary and some reviews. Then a bonus review from another voracious reader in the Wallace home. Enjoy!

Sir Bentley and Holbrook Court

Book summary:

This second installment in Chuck Black’s Knights of Arrethtrae series tells the tale of Sir Bentley, an honorable knight who abandons all to seek the truth of the Prince. Eirwyn, a mysterious young woman who brings food to the poor, teaches Bentley the power of compassion to overcome evil. Together, they save the people of Holbrook from poverty and despair.

Sir Bentley’s quest for the truth of the Prince finds him battling Shadow Warriors, a powerful lord, and a terrifying creature. Will greed destroy Holbrook? Or can Bentley and the mysterious Eirwyn restore prosperity to the kingdom through the compassion of the Prince?

Intended for family read-alouds and Christian teens, this fantastic story will entertain and edify parents and kids alike.


“With sanctified imagination, Chuck Black transports readers back to the days of chivalry and valor, clashing steel, and noble conflict–but ultimately he transports readers to the eternal triumph of the King who reigns!”
– Douglas Bond, author of HOLD FAST In a Broken World, and Guns of the Lion

“Chuck Black is a word crafter who is able to weave Kingdom principles into the fabric of one’s moral imagination. The characters he has created and the passions they exude, will motivate readers to follow their examples, which have now been etched into their awakened conscience.”
-Mark Hamby, Founder and President of Cornerstone Family Ministries and Lamplighter Publishing

“My son, Nathan, loved the first book in this series and he said the second was even better. In my son's own words, ‘Mom, it was exciting and full of mystery. It compelled me to read more. I couldn't put it down.’ As a mom and an author, I give Sir Bentley and Holbrook Court two thumbs up!”
– Tricia Goyer, homeschooling mom and author of eighteen books, including Generation NeXt Parenting

Author Bio:

Chuck Black, a former F-16 fighter pilot and tactical communications engineer, is the author of eight novels, including the popular Kingdom series. He has received praise from parents across the country for his unique approach to telling biblical truths. His passion in life is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and to love his wife, Andrea, and their six children. He lives with his family in North Dakota.

Bonus review from David Wallace (homeschool dad, amazing reader, and married to an author)

Sir Bentley and Holbrook Court, book two in The Knights of Arrethtrae series, is an exciting tale of a knight on a quest of a lifetime. As Sir Bentley forsakes the tradition of his family, and all the privileges that come with it, he sets out to serve the true King. Author Chuck Black takes his readers into battles, captivity, and to the brink of death as his hero looks for answers to his many questions regarding faith in the true Prince and the King.

The book is written for teens, but is a fascinating story for adults as well. Any teen who is interested in tales of knights and fair maidens will quickly take to this book, as well as the entire series. I would encourage parents to read the book along with your teen (if you can get it away from them long enough). I was almost as impressed with the carefully crafted discussion questions at the end of the book as I was with the story itself. The author’s heart to take this deeper than just an entertaining story and actually challenge his readers to serve their true King is obvious.

If you want some background on the fascinating land and people of Arrethtrae, I highly recommend The Kingdom Series, the predecessor of The Knights of Arrethtrae. These books are equally as captivating and thought provoking. And as you read them and discuss them with your teen…you might just slay some dragons of your own.

Monday, February 23, 2009

We Didn't Start the Fire

Call my crazy, but I have an idea for homeschool that just might jump start all of us with some needed excitement...

It includes an iPod, Billy Joel, and a recap of American History.

You see, since Christmas (and my new iPod) I've been introducing my kiddos to the world of amazing music that I grew up with. Some folks might decry such a practice and sometimes the explanations of song lyrics are a little difficult, but it's given us a connecting point and some good exercise. :-)

And now it's going to provide a great history lesson.

I'm a big history buff, not so much for a specific time period but to learn from those who have gone before us. Right now we're studying the life of Teddy Roosevelt and my kids are learning from this great man like they've recently learned tons about Abraham Lincoln.

I love that these men were huge readers and no one thought they'd amount to much but yet they took their God-given abilities and used them to the fullest extent.

I pray my children will do the same.

Anyway, today I was folding laundry (such a glamorous activity) and listening to my iPod when Billy Joel's song "We Didn't Start the Fire" came on. I love the humanity in Billy Joel's songs and how he captures emotions and real life poetically.

Back to my idea...I'm listening to the song's litany of modern American history and cataloging what we haven't covered and what we're going to cover. Then it dawned on me that every one of the events in the song shaped history.

Add to that how much my kids love music like their mom, and voila, we have a fun time to look forward to. Not only will we be reviewing a whole year of study and adding some cultural icons, we'll be discussing ideas and ideals and how they can use that knowledge to shape their present and future.

That's my kind of school.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Different Kind of Valentine’s Gift

Here's a little something to say HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

I wrote this article years ago, but it's still a message I try to share every time I speak. And it's a great subject to ponder on Valentine's Day because it's about something we all too often forget...

A Different Kind of Valentine’s Gift

While Valentine’s Day typically evokes images of candy hearts, roses, cupids, and­­—of course—chocolate-style gifts, I’d like to talk about the one person most of us forget to give a Valentine to.


Funny thought? Maybe. But if we look at the two greatest commands in the Bible we read, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:30-31)

Right there in the pages of Scripture we’re instructed by God to love ourselves. So how do we do that?

In Mark 12, the Word shares four ways we’re to love God: with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. They’re also ways to love ourselves. Here are some ideas to get you started:

In your emotions (heart): Get information from your feelings instead of ignoring them, listen to your heart. Then talk about what you hear with God. Ask Him what He says. He has so much good to say about you.

In your spirit (soul): Hang out with God and listen to His words of love about you. Get outside and enjoy nature. Listen to praise music, a child praying, or a mountain stream.

In your mind: Feed it with healthy things. Turn off the TV and computer. Read a good book. Play a board game. Share a giggle with a child.

And in your body (strength): Rest. Yes, really, a good 8 hours of sleep will do your body wonders. Exercise. Eat well.

This list is just for starters. Think about the things that relax you, that make your heart smile. Then this Valentine’s Day, I hope you’ll add yourself to your gift list and make time to do something that fills you up.

A wise counselor once told me that taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give to others. And to God.


You are love and You have given Your perfect love to us. Help us experience You and share Your love with others as we love ourselves. Make us lie down in green pastures to rest, lead us to listen beside quiet waters, restore our souls. Guide us in paths of righteousness for Your name's sake. May we glorify You by enjoying you forever. We love you, Daddy. Thank You for first loving us. Amen.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Early Valentine's gift for you

For you fiction lovers, fans of the Defenders of Hope books, or friends who love me anyway... here's a treat I just had to share:

My hubby (special thanks to you, oh amazing webmaster!) added a very cool book-like reader to my website where you can be among the first to step into Hanna Kessler's world and read the first TWO chapters of Enduring Justice.

Don't forget to spend some time browsing around the new Dark Chocolate Suspense website's a great place to hang out and get in the mood for Valentine's Day.

Hope you and your loved ones enjoy a sweet holiday! Happy Valentine's Day!

Enduring Justice

A painful past

Hanna Kessler’s childhood secret has remained buried for over two decades. But when the dark shadows of her past threaten to destroy those she loves, Hanna must face the summer that changed her life and the man who still haunts her memories.

A racially-motivated killer

As a Crimes Against Children FBI Agent, Michael Parker knows what it means to get knocked down. Difficult cases and broken relationships have plagued his entire year. But when the system fails and a white supremacist is set free, Michael’s drive for retribution eclipses all else.

A life-altering choice

A racist’s well-planned assault forces Hanna and Michael to decide between executing vengeance and pursuing justice. The dividing line between the two is the choice to heal. But when the attack turns personal, is justice enough?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Sharing the Love

It's amazing to me how God used a donkey, a story, and suffering in Scripture to draw people to Him. I've never heard a donkey talk, but He has used the other two examples to get my attention.

Sure wish I listened better, regularly!

This past week, God used another thing to speak, and this is one item (actually two) I'm thrilled for Him to use.

Books. I love it when He does that. :-)

The two books are right in time for Valentine's Day and are all about love. The first is a devotional, Love as a Way of Life Devotional, by best-selling author Dr. Gary Chapman.

Here's an official blurb first: Each devotional entry showcases biblical truths that guide a life of love, offering fresh insight and practical guidance in how to make love a lasting habit. Readers will learn to follow God’s lead as they practice the characteristics of a loving person: kindness, patience, forgiveness, courtesy, humility, generosity, and honesty.

Now here's a favorite quote that really jumped out at me from page 7-8 of the book: "Knowing the reality of our weaknesses, we can find great freedom in realizing that the key to becoming a loving person lies not with us but with God."

To an all too often control freak, these words were freedom.

I'm still sorting out the lessons in this book. Too many times I go into analyzing mode and think about how the words are good and I how I understand them and should apply them to my life.

But I'm not yet at the experiencing point, the place where the words are alive and I find myself living them without the analyzing. And that's where I want to be.

Another fascinating book that came at the right time for me is I Do Again by Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs.

I feel a bit like a voyeur, peeking into the details of this couples real-life story. At the same time, I'm blown away by their honesty, and it's helping me understand a little more of the communication struggles in my own marriage.

Another thing I've enjoyed about this book is how not alone I felt after reading Cheryl's struggle to listen and obey God's voice. There's something powerful about knowing you're not the only one to struggle and to see someone triumph even when it took a while to get there.

Here's the official blurb: I Do Again details the fascinating real-life story of a couple whose relationship seemed shattered beyond all hope until a spiritual awakening led them to reconsider their definitions of “happily ever after.”

A riveting account of the power of prayer and redemption, this remarkable book offers renewed hope for even the most troubled marriages—and reveals why the rewards of restoration are well worth the wait.

So wherever you are on your relationship journey, these are two excellent books for turning your thoughts to the Lord and the real meaning of love this Valentine’s Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Now it’s your turn…what books would you recommend to a young couple? How about a single or someone like me, who’s been married a while?

Let’s share the love and the learning as we grow in Him.

Monday, February 02, 2009

A Word Fitly Spoken

There have been many times in my life where I've wondered if God was listening. And even when I knew that I knew He was, I still wondered if He'd answer.

I don't like those times of doubt and wrestling with God. I don't like knowing I should rest and be at peace and still finding it impossible to do.

I'm so very glad God remembers how frail I really am.

It's a pretty fair guess that any time I'm not blogging for a long stretch, I'm wrestling something out with God.

January is a case in point.

Readjusting to post-holiday life was hard. Homeschooling was hard. And waiting for direction for my writing career was hardest of all.

I was praying. I just didn't realize I was wrestling too.

And the funny thing is I don't have any huge answers yet. But I do have peace. And it came from a rejection letter.

God spoke through a donkey, so I guess He can use a rejection letter too.

I'd spent some time the week before this letter came with a dear friend who listened to me moan, told me some stories about other's journeys, and then told me to keep praying. Just being around her and having her stay in our home left a fragrance of God's peace everywhere.

I want to grow up and be like that someday.

Anyway, had I not had that time with my friend, I'm sure the rejection would have hurt far worse than in did. But all I could think of when I read the closed-door words was that God heard and answered.

And then, a few days later, He filled my inbox with loads of emails talking about how God has used my books to touch lives. Some even said He used my blog too. Talk about a wonderful encouragement.

In every line, I read God's love and experienced His peace.

He's not done with me. And He used some precious folks, many I've never met, to drive that point home in a loving, uplifting, made-me-smile-big sort of way.

You just never know how God is going to use your simple words of encouragement, words fitly spoken at just the right time, to do amazing things.

Your words are gifts. Your life is a treasure. Thank you for sharing with me and being living and beautiful reminders that God is near...listening and smiling.
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