Time To Say Goodbye Excerpt

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by Parker J. Cole

Though tears blurred Gargi’s sight, they could not mask the massive form as it stood outside the curtains. Hastily she wiped at her eyes. “What did you just say?” she repeated. 

The man, hidden somewhat behind the yellow and orange checkered drapes, shoved them aside and stepped into the secluded space. His physical presence gave the distinct impression of causing the room to shrink in response to his girth. 

“I said I hope he rots.” The unmistakable note of unadulterated sincerity scraped at her frayed nerve endings. 

Maybe in other circumstances, at some other time and place, Gargi would have been alarmed to see a strange man peeking at their misery. Yet the last couple of days had taken their toll on her. Dev’s condition threatened his survival. If he lived— 

If he lived… 

The idea, the thought of ‘if,’ wrenched a sob from her. 

Dear Jesus, please let my brother live. Don’t take him from me. 

“Get out of here!” she screeched. “I don’t know who you are and I don’t care. Just go!” 

The man took another step toward her. She felt his intrusion into her personal space like a palpable insertion. He topped Dev by several inches, with broad shoulders, a wide chest straining the dark green T-shirt, and long arms with meaty hands. His dark golden eyes meshed unexpectedly with the red gold of his hair. A well-groomed beard framed the lower half of his jawline. 

“I’m going to go.” The man’s voice had a gruff drawl to it. “You don’t have to know my name, but I will tell you someone else’s name. Alma Bertha Reckley. She may not mean a thing to you and that piece of trash lying there, but she means the world to me.” 

He pointed a long, thick finger at Dev’s prone figure. “That worthless scum stole my mama’s life savings. So, I’ll say it again. I hope he rots.” 

Heat flushed the surface of her skin like lava-flow. A fine trembling wracked her limbs. This man, whoever he was, had no idea what he was talking about. 

“My brother,” she gritted out, “did not steal anything from anyone. He was set up. There were four others involved in this scheme and they implicated him.” 

“Baloney,” the man scoffed. His thin brows arched. “If he was set up, then where are these so-called conspirators? Nowhere to be found.” 

Gargi stomped over to the man, barely conscious of her actions. All she knew was that she wanted to shut him up. 

“Perhaps you don’t understand English well. My brother is innocent. He gave everything of himself to others. Orphanages, charities, churches, the list goes on.” Her arms flung wildly into the air. “How can he be the type to steal from anyone?” 

The man snorted. “People who don’t work for their money tend to part with it faster than those who do. Else, why spend a million dollars on a sports car?” 

A red haze obscured her vision. She snarled like a wild animal. “Get out! You have no right to be here!”  

The man lifted an arrogant eyebrow. It made the heat scorching her skin reach new depths of intensity. Could he see the steam coming out of her ears? Why wasn’t he running away from the violent urges she fought to contain? 

“I think I have every right.” His gruff drawl flattened to a rough tone of scorn. “I want to see him either rot or do the time the good people of the U. S. of A.’s justice system ordered him to do.” 

Every muscle in her face hardened like stone. “Get out of here now before I call security.” 

He shrugged. “Go right ahead.” 

About the Author:

Parker J. ColeParker J. Cole is a writer and radio show host who spends most of her time reading, knitting, writing, cooking, and concocting new ideas for stories. Her first novel, Dark Cherub, won Best of Spring Reading 2013 from eMediaCampaigns. She lives in Michigan with her husband and beloved dog Sarah.

Visit her site at http://www.ParkerJCole.com

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Gems From Pastor Jim

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by Jim Hughes

CrossProv. 15:11 Even the depths of Death and Destruction are known by the LORD. How much more does he know the human heart!

We don’t know what it is like to die. It’s a once in a lifetime experience for us. There are no do-overs. We will live on, but in a totally different way than what we have known. Death is a mystery to us. God tells us some things to expect, but until we live it we will not know what it is like. What we do know is that God knows. He knows everything there is to know about death, all the glories of heaven and all the goriness of hell.

Every human being who has ever lived has been warned by God about death and destruction. He has ingrained in the human soul a sense of right and wrong. He holds each of us responsible for the knowledge we have been given. God purposely forbade Adam and Eve from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge because He knew that man would not be able to handle the knowledge of good and evil. He knew that because of man’s nature once he knew what sin was like he would gravitate towards sin and fall prey to it. God tried to spare them, and us, the horrors of such knowledge, but obviously they would not listen.

There are no secrets with God. He knows every thought of the mind. He knows every intent of the heart. He knows what moves us to say and what we do. The Lord knows it all. Do not be deceived by those who would deny it. Do not be deceived by the foolishness of thinking that you can hide your thoughts from Him. What controls your mind comes from your heart and He holds you responsible for what He finds there.

Dear friend, you can fool people and you can even fool yourself, but you can’t fool God.

Before and After the Honeymoon

About the Author:

Jim HughesSpending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

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Excerpt from Under the Sun: A Traditional View of Ancient History

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by Mary C. Findley

under the sun 25

After the flood, the most rapid, massive cultural change on record is the Exodus. The time of the Exodus was a dramatic change for every culture on earth that we know about. Thousands of years before the label “Second Intermediate Period” existed, Jews, then Christians, then Muslims, understood that the Exodus was the destruction of all of Egypt. Understanding that the Second Intermediate Period was a result of the Exodus validates not only the Exodus, but the entire Old Testament as an accurate historical record. Secular Humanists refuse to acknowledge that the Exodus and the Second Intermediate Period are linked because the link validates the history of the entire Old Testament.

The Exodus ended Egypt’s thirteenth dynasty. The Exodus ushered in the Second Intermediate Period (SIP). An Egyptian document, the Ipuwer papyrus, describes conditions similar to several of the plagues and an invasion unopposed by an Egyptian army. The Exodus records both the destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red (Reed) Sea and the Amalekites moving west toward Egypt. During the Second Intermediate Period Egypt was controlled by foreign Asiatic invaders. The loss of the entire Egyptian army explains why chariots and horses have never been found in any Middle Kingdom tomb.

The Exodus, which destroyed Egypt’s Middle Kingdom, left Egypt open to the Hyksos invasion. Foreign Asiatic invaders ruled Egypt during the SIP, with a capital just south of modern Cairo. Using a term from Josephus, modern archaeologists name these foreign rulers Hyksos. If they were the Amalekites, that certainly explains Balaam saying that Amalek was first of the nations (Numbers 24:20 NASB). Also, Amalek was headed towards Egypt when they met the Israelites as they left Egypt. With the CC date for the Thera eruption by 14C dating in the middle of the 17th century BC and the margin of error for 14C dating in the middle of 2nd millennium BC is roughly 100-150 years before than the actual date, that would place the Thera eruption at roughly the same time as not only the Exodus but also the Hyksos invasion of Egypt.

The Exodus began what archaeologists call the Second Intermediate Period for Egypt. This world wide cultural change fits well with Ussher’s 1491 BC date for the Exodus. The eruption of Thera destroyed not only the Aegean Sea Cycladic and Minoan civilizations, leaving the Mycenaean dominant but damaged every culture of the Mediterranean and Mesopotamian world. The Exodus was near the beginning of what is known in China as the Shang dynasty. The unknown beginnings of the Shang empire are centuries earlier. But China sees the Shang dynasty replacing the Xia empire about 1491 BC. The rest of Asia, the rest of Europe, the Americas, Africa, Australia, Japan, and Oceania still have no written documents. In these areas, our understanding of life after the Exodus is just as obscure as life before the Exodus. The many artifacts are difficult to interpret and date. Perhaps they were Ice Age, while Israel was in Egypt, or even after Israel was a nation.
The Second Intermediate Period in Egypt and the conquest of Canaan and the Judges for Israel was a time of severe upheavals for the subcontinent of India. India still had no written language that we know of. But this is the time of constant, pervasive warfare recorded centuries later in the Rigveda and the Mahabharata. Whether the Harappans were destroyed by Aryan invaders, internal warfare, natural disasters, or simply intermarried peacefully into the Vedic Culture, the Harappan or Indus Valley Civilization was gone by (perhaps because of?) the Exodus 1491 BC. Without any certain links to other cultures outside of India at this time, it is impossible know if the Harappan culture still existed at this time. The CC views the era after the Exodus as the Vedic Age throughout India.

It is not even possible to agree on a name for this age for the Indian Subcontinent. Some scholars insist that this is the Aryan Age. Others, infuriated with this title, insist that there never were any Aryans in India. They believe this is the Vedic Age and only the Vedic Age. Still others, in an attempt to placate both, call this the Aryan/Vedic Civilization, which infuriates both groups. Still others call this time the Hindu Vedas period. Whatever you choose, many knowledgeable scholars will strongly disagree with your choice.

We know that the Indus Valley Civilization ceased to exist somewhere around this time. The major civilization moved from the modern southern Afghanistan/Pakistan/ Northwest India region east across the Himalayan mountains to the modern Bangladesh region and the Ganges River. It is impossible to be certain if this was a sudden or gradual transition. The Dravidian culture began during this time farther south in the area of modern central India.It is likely that the Exodus coincided with the eruption of a volcano on the island of Thera in the Aegean sea. This eruption, which destroyed much of the existing Cycladic and Minoan cultures, made the Mycenaean culture dominate in the Aegean Sea. The Mycenaean culture, which already existed, controlled the Aegean Sea after this eruption. The Second Intermediate Period in Egypt, the period of the Judges in Israel, the rise of the Mycenaean culture in the Aegean, and the rise of Phoenician culture in the eastern Mediterranean were all a result of the Thera eruption and the Exodus.

The historic birth of the nation of Israel, the Exodus, was not two million people walking nearly single file. It was a mass of terrified people with carts and animals (carts were mentioned as given to Lord at Sinai And they brought their offering before the LORD, six covered wagons… Numbers 7:3) crossing all at the same time. Unlike the Hollywood movies and Bible story books (which at times make the Bible seem like a fairy tale), they crossed en masse. Only a massed crossing would allow two million people with animals and carts to travel ten to fifteen miles in a single night.

Organization came later. Anyone who could not travel quickly rode in a cart or on an animal. They had an opening wide enough for all of children of Israel, about two million plus animals, to cross at nearly the same time. According to one manual of the USMC, one day’s forced march carrying gear is about twenty miles. It is a reasonable assumption that the wagons and pack animals made this a light crossing. That is, the children of Israel carried very little gear on their persons. Also, as slaves, they were used to hard work. Since parts of the Red (Reed) Sea are less than 15 miles across, this is a possible, though very difficult, crossing in a single night.

A very wide pathway also explains why Pharaoh’s army was deceived into following them. It was large enough to appear to be a permanent, or at least long term change to the sea. Pharaoh would have caught the Israelites before they reached the far shore. Except the dry ground Israel walked on turned to mud under the wheels of the Egyptian chariots.

Under the Sun is only 99 cents on Amazon


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God’s Pumpkin Patch

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by CJ Peterson

God’s pumpkin patch is full of pumpkins that are ripe and ready to harvest. He carefully picks each one at the proper time and carries them into the house to clean out. He washed off the dirt and mud from the garden to make sure the outside is clean. Then He cuts off the top, cleans out all of the things we are hiding within ourselves that we have hidden, yet they are things that will spoil us if it is not cleared out. When He is finished, he looks at the pumpkin to decide what plan He has for that particular pumpkin.

He sets up the table, and then tediously carves a work of art into the pumpkin. It’s painful as He smoothly moves over the face of the pumpkin. When He is finished with the carving, He picks a scented votive candle that complements the pumpkin, and then lights the candle.

His children ‘oooo’ and ‘ahhhh’ as they use the sense of sight to see the brightness of the light the Father has placed within the pumpkin, as well as how it shines through the stunning artwork that is the entire pumpkin. They inhale with their sense of smell the aromatic melody of the pumpkin scent as it blends with the nutmeg and cinnamon candle within it’s shell. They touch the beautiful carving in awe of what the Father has made of a simple pumpkin from His garden.

“It’s beautiful, Father!”

“Then take care of it,” the Father replies as He hands His angel the pumpkin. “Go and make sure it’s light shines in the world.”

“What happens if someone destroys the pumpkin?” The Angel apprehensively asked.

“Then bring it back to me, and I will make it another work of art. Each pumpkin in My garden has a purpose. I have made each one to be a light in this world for Me and to show My love to them.”

The Angel nods before He walks out of the Father’s house, to see hundreds of pumpkins with tiny candles that lit the path. It was then that the Angel understood how each light is used to help another, to light the path to the Father’s house.

We are created for a purpose…you are created for a purpose. Whatever has happened in your past, God can and will use you if you go to Him and allow Him to clean you and allow you to be a work of art for Him.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardener John 15:1

The Pumpkin

About the Author:

C. J. PetersonI was raised in a Christian military home, but it was far from tranquil. Like many young people, I left home as soon as possible, and went my own way, thinking I knew better. To me anything was better than where I was. Unfortunately, some of the choices I made led me away from the Lord, and sometimes that path was a dangerous one.
God is faithful, even when His children are lost and wandering. When I needed Him most, the Lord was there for me. He led me out of that danger and into a new life…a life where I am loved and appreciated. He taught me what ‘real love’ is, and what it’s supposed to look like through my family and wonderful husband.
Who knew that “Prince Charming” actually existed? I hoped and prayed he was out there, and I found him! He is a 24 year Navy veteran and the love of my life! With his encouragement, I rediscovered the creativity I thought I had lost a long time ago, and have begun to publish the books I have written through the years. The words in these books helped me through my struggles, and my prayer is they will help others.
The way in which I write my Christian Books, is unique to say the least. I am a realistic Christian. People are people, they stumble, they fall, they trip, but God continues to dust us off, and set us back on the path again, if we just learn to trust in Him.
The challenges faced in my past give me a perspective on the realities of living the Christian life that some people may never see. There are times we wander away from God…there are times when we draw closer to Him. In our arrogance we think we can make it on our own. However, the One who made this world, and who made you, has the answers, and thankfully, He forgives our impudence and petulance and loves us through it all. God is a God of love, mercy, grace, and guidance. He loves us and only wants the best for us.
Those who have read my books, describe them as encouraging, frustrating, and a wonderful read all at the same time. The same character that could have you crying one minute, will have you cheering the next! One of my editors, stated that ‘she was so into the story, that she forgot to edit, and had to go back to do the editing’.
I pray you will enjoy my books as well!

While the stories are fiction, the journey is real.

Visit CJ’s websitehttp://cjpetersonwrites.com/

Follow her on FB http://www.facebook.com/writingbycjpeterson

Follow her on Twitterhttp://www.twitter.com/authoress_cj

Follow her on Pinterest http://pinterest.com/authoresscj/

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Honor All People

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by Mark Malcolm


13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,
14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.
16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.
17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.
19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.
20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
1 Peter 2:13-20 (NASB) 


“Honor all people…” All, people. Not some of them. Not just the ones we like. All people. 

Does that sound hard? Why does God want us to honor all people? Why does it “…finds favor…” with God? 

Honor is for other people when it comes from us. Honor is meant to help people around us. Jesus came to serve the world and the people in it, and as Christians, as the “brotherhood” (which includes both men and women) we are bound by our willing acceptance of that title to do as Christ did. 

What did Jesus do? He died for our sins. He suffered unjust persecution at the hands of the worldly authorities. He was physically tortured and executed wrongly. Does any of that sound “reasonable” to have happened to the Son of God? 

Jesus received UNreasonable treatment at the hands of the worldly government of His day. Verse twenty tries to explain this position to us. If we are punished when we deserve it we can bear that because we understand we did something wrong and deserve what we are getting, but when we are unjustly punished we feel indignant though our Christian example bore up under that unjust punishment. How then are we emulating our Lord and Savior if we resist the unjust punishment when He withstood it in silent acceptance? 

What would the outcome have been if Jesus tossed off the cross, refused to be accused unjustly, and forcibly stopped the Romans from crucifying Him? He didn’t deserve it did He? He had every right to stop them because He knew they were wrong, right? The people around Him didn’t deserve nor even know about the amazing gift He was in the process of giving them so why didn’t He just stop and take that gift back? Because He was being obedient to the task God had given Him, and it was counted as righteous forevermore. If we claim to be His followers we need to strive to do no less. This effort, successful or not is what finds favor with God. 

Bio from my web site :

Smiling Mark IIMark Malcolm is a child of God, husband, father, project manager, technical writer, gamer, fiction writer, Marine (’87-’91), has practiced Shao Lin Kung Fu and Tai Chi, been published in magazines and newspapers (editorial anyway), and seen the Southern Cross.

The goals he has currently are to more accurately identify the path God has for him to walk, continue to provide for his family, establish a solid web presence, build a career writing novels through both traditional and independent publishing, and learn to better relate to the people around him.


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Gems From Pastor Jim

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by Jim Hughes

CrossProv. 15:3 The LORD is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.

How does this truth make you feel? The Lord is watching everywhere; everywhere you go the Lord knows about it. He is aware of what you are doing at all times. He knows everything about you, inside and out. He knows when you do good and when you do evil. You do not get away with anything. How does that make you feel? Are you okay with it, or does it concern you?

You cannot hide from the watchful eye of the Lord. This is why we can’t let down our guard and assume anything. We must keep vigilant watch over our souls. The Lord will not accept our excuses for sinning. He cannot be fooled and we cannot hide anything from Him.

We cannot understand how the Lord is able to single us out of all the masses of people in time and space and know what is going on with us. All we know is that He can. Such knowledge comforts, challenges, and concerns us. He has His eye on both the evil and good. He knows. He knows what no one else knows. In our innermost secret places He knows whether or not evil or good has a hold of us.

The Lord is watching and sees the evil and good in the world. He is not surprised by the things that surprise us. He has all things under control and will make all things right when the time is right. No one is going to escape His judgment. Justice may not seem to be accomplished here on earth, but it is done in heaven. Do not let the evil of the world throw you. God is on the throne and Judgment Day is coming.

The Lord is watching you. Are you living a life that pleases Him? Do you put a smile or a frown on His face?

Before and After the Honeymoon

About the Author:

Jim HughesSpending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

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Finding the Purpose of Life: 5 Ways to Grow to Completely Whole

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by Paulette Harper

“So many of us allow bad experiences to get the best of us and we don’t learn how to turn those experiences into stepping stones for us to grow spiritually, emotionally, financially or socially.  I would be the first to agree that life can be hard and challenging however if we take a look back and begin to analyze how to use those bad experiences to help us in one area of our life, we will never look at bad experiences the same.” 

Coming from Paulette Harper‘s book Completely Whole, which provides women with keys to living a life on purpose, spirit, soul and body.  

Here are her five suggestions on learning how to live a happier life.

  • Accepting that sometimes the “Why” will never get answered.  When we can accept that many times we won’t be able to change the outcome and accept what has happened, and realized that it happened for a purpose and rest in that, we are better prepared to handle all experiences.
  • There is no easy way out. Many times we want to escape the bad experiences by not dealing with them head on, but that won’t solve anything. Stop for a moment, look at the situation and make the necessary changes that are required to be more empowered.
  • Realize that God is in control. Our lives are totally in the hands of someone who knows how all things will pan out. Trust Him in every situation, knowing that He will guide you as you look to Him for help.
  • Forgive yourself and others.  In life people will hurt us. That includes family, spouses, children, and parents.  As you forgive others for their trespasses, God will forgive you of yours.
  • Pray that God will show you what it is He is trying to teach you.  Allow this opportunity to let God reveal to you what lessons are to be learned. Treat each experience as a great opportunity to grow and mature.

About The Author 

 Paulette HarperIn addition to being an award winning author of Completely Whole, and Secret Places Revealed Paulette is an inspirational speaker, as well as a writing workshop instructor. She has a passion to coach aspiring authors and speaks into the lives of women from every walk of life. Her literary works have been spotlighted in a growing number of publications, including CBN, Real Life Real Faith Magazine, and Black Pearls Magazine. She has also appeared on numerous local and online radio shows.

Paulette resides in Northern California. 

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A Review Revisited: Unshakeable Pursuit

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by Paula Rose

This review appeared on Books-N-Reviews on Publishers Marketplace by Paula Rose http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/booksnreviews/ 

Published: November 15, 2014 | Format: eBook (156 pages) | ASIN: B00PHLAGAG | Origin: Author 

 Unspeakable Persuit

 Cover: Courtesy of Amazon  


Unshakeable Pursuit by Camy Tang is a white-knuckled read!

From page one, danger stalks two medical professionals, but Dr. Geoffrey Whelan and Maylin Kinley have no idea why. And when these two wounded souls are thrown together, they discover more about themselves and each other while fighting for their lives and protecting the people around them.

Dr. Whelan hasn’t forgiven himself for the death of family members in Japan, and Nurse Kinley had given up her family ties to have the career she desires, but these two are determined to keep their hearts from each other as their wounds are way too raw. However, with Geoffrey ‘s close family ties juxtaposed to Maylin’s emptiness, her pain is bound to increase along with the longing for true connection. Meanwhile, with Maylin’s kind heart nearer to his, Geoffrey knows she deserves someone with less baggage and guilt, but her closeness is calling his own beliefs into question along with many other areas of his life. 

***This opinion is my own.***


Dr. Geoffrey Whelan’s work in Japan during the tsunami aftermath didn’t help him.  In fact, it made his pain and questions more intense and his faith more in doubt.  Tormented by being the cause of death of two extended family members makes his own pulse that much more painful. Still breathing has brought Geoffrey back to Sonoma to help family and try to find a purpose for his life as if one could be found.

Although Maylin Kinley had met this doctor years ago, he seemed less flirtatious and more haunted, but how can she accurately judge his situation, when she had a family but is alone now?

Having tried so hard to fit into her family dynamic, she finally couldn’t take it and decided the emptiness of alone was better than the emptiness one feels when those who should love you don’t. If breaking up with her abusive ex-boyfriend to face her own family’s disapproval over her decision didn’t prove one type of alone better than the other nothing would.

The clinic is the only connection these two staff members share, but a visitor predicts danger is hunting both of them. 

About the Author:

Paula RoseAuthor Paula Rose brings an “average” family into extraordinary situations, brushes with life-size strokes of reality, adding just a touch of humor, and coats with suspense inside Christian fiction. Paula’s research gives readers a panoramic view from law enforcement and lends to character authenticity. She enjoys writing in the romantic suspense, suspense, and mystery genres, but when she’s not writing, Paula Rose is reading or playing amateur photographer. Member of ACFW. 2015 Genesis Contest judge. NetGalley member. 2014 Grace Awards judge.

Website: http://paularosebooks.com/ Blog: http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/booksnreviews/

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by Mary Hamilton

I hope you enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 1:

The squealing brakes of the arriving school bus formed an odd harmony with a distant siren. I bent over to pick up the newspaper on my driveway while the bus came to a stop, its warning lights blinking yellow to red. Seven children lined up at the door, the older ones hunched under the weight of their backpacks. Off to one side, mothers formed a tight circle, no doubt discussing the latest in school gossip—who wasn’t speaking to whom, which teacher was giving unreasonable homework, why so-and-so wasn’t invited to a birthday party. 

At least I no longer had to deal with those issues. Emma, my ten-year-old neighbor, shouted to her mother and waved good-bye, but Lauren failed to respond, apparently too engrossed in conversation to notice. 

I slapped the newspaper against my palm, contemplating the possibilities of what I might do if someone attempted to snatch one of the children. The potential harm inflicted by a fifty-eight-year-old woman beating someone with a rolled-up newspaper was laughable, but it might buy some time, create enough of a distraction for the child to escape. Roy always warned me about the personal danger of injecting myself into such a situation, but saving a child would be worth the cost. That was one truth I’d grown certain of in the past twelve years. 

The last student climbed the bus steps. The driver closed the door then waved in my direction before the bus roared on to the next stop, leaving behind a pungent cloud of diesel exhaust. Across the street, Amanda Fisher tossed her purse and backpack into the car then climbed into the driver’s seat. At twenty, she looked more and more like her mother, Nicole. Had it already been five years since that beautiful woman died of breast cancer? Amanda tapped the horn and waved to me as she left for class at the community college. 

I brushed grains of sand and dirt from the newspaper’s wrapper before pulling my sweater tight against the morning chill and retracing my steps to the front door. Though May had started out warmer than usual this year, the winds that give Chicago its nickname still carried a trace of artic air this morning. 

Lauren called my name as I reached my front door. Now that the mommy committee had dispersed, she hurried along the sidewalk waving an envelope in the air. 

“I meant to run this over to you yesterday, but I didn’t get a chance. The mail carrier left it in our box by mistake. Might be just junk, but I thought it looked like a real letter.” She handed me the envelope. I didn’t recognize the return address, but I thanked her and pushed the door open. 

“Oh, before you go[Symbol]” Lauren held out her hand, then drew her finger to her mouth and nipped at her fingernail. “Didn’t you say you used to teach math?” 

“Yes.” I transferred the letter to the same hand as the newspaper, and tried to think how I might dodge the request that was sure to come. 

“I wondered, would you be willing to tutor Emma? She really struggles with math, and I’m not very patient when it comes to helping her. Of course, we’d pay you the going rate for tutors.” She rushed to get it all in before I could respond. 

“I’m sorry, but I haven’t done any teaching in over a decade.” Twelve years, one month and some odd days, to be exact. “I doubt I’d be competent.” 

“I thought Roy said you were Teacher of the Year once.” 

“That was a long time ago, my dear. Teaching has changed a lot since then, especially methods for teaching math, from what I hear. Check with your school. I’m sure they can recommend a more capable tutor than me. But thank you for bringing this over.” I held up the envelope and stepped inside.  

“Okay, well[Symbol]” Clearly disappointed, Lauren gave a small wave and turned toward her house. “Have a nice day, Elaine.” 

I closed and locked the door then examined the envelope as I made my way to the kitchen. The neat cursive style of the handwritten address suggested a personal note. The Chicago return address in the upper left corner was also handwritten. 

In the kitchen, I found Roy pouring himself a cup of coffee. He lifted the pot in my direction and raised one graying eyebrow. “Want some?” 

“Yes, please.” I dropped the newspaper on the table before using a paring knife to open the envelope. 

“Kind of early for the mail, isn’t it?” Roy set my cup on the table.  

“Lauren brought it over, said it was left in her box yesterday.” I slid the card out and checked the signature at the end of the handwritten message. “It’s from a former student. I didn’t recognize her married name.” I read the note silently. 

“What does she say?” Roy sat down at the table and sipped his coffee. 

“Not much. It’s just an update on what she’s doing.” I slipped the notecard back into the envelope and tossed it into the bottom drawer of my desk, along with other notes from students and my Teacher of the Year award—all ancient history. 

“Did I hear Lauren ask you about tutoring Emma?” I nodded. “Why not try it? You enjoy little Emma so much, it might be good for you.” Roy slid the newspaper from its protective sleeve, keeping the first section and the sports for himself. 

“I’m neither a tutor nor a teacher.” 


“Roy, we’ve been over this before. I’m not a teacher. Teachers don’t lose their students.” 

Roy sighed the way he always did when we had this conversation. I didn’t appreciate him bringing it up again, but the way he blinked and turned his eyes in a slow arc from me to the floor and back to his newspaper softened my anger. He was my protector, my encourager. I offered a truce, planting a kiss beneath his white mustache. At sixty, the hair was thicker above his lip than atop his head. It made for a slightly scratchy kiss.  

Roy reached into his shirt pocket and withdrew two tickets, holding them out to me. Squinting through my glasses, I read the tiny print on the strips of heavy stock paper. 

“The symphony?” I threw my arms around his neck and kissed both of his cheeks. His mustache twitched the way it did when he was trying not to smile. 

“Happy birthday, Lainey. I thought you’d like that.” He snapped the newspaper to attention then took another sip of his coffee. “It still feels odd not giving you a real present though, the kind you unwrap. Isn’t there anything else you’d like?” 

I grabbed up the plastic wrapper from the paper and stashed it in the recycling. Washing my hands at the sink, I mused. “Been thinking I could use a new purse.” I realized what I’d said and quickly added, “But I need to do that myself. A symphony concert is perfect. It’s all I need or want.” 

Unlike most men, Roy never forgot a birthday or anniversary. His knack for remembering details like a suspect’s brand of cigarettes had made him a successful police detective, and, more recently a private investigator. But his talent didn’t extend to choosing tasteful gifts. I still cringed at the ugly gifts he’d presented me over the years, especially that yellow and black sweater that made me look like a “Caution” sign in a road construction zone. Last year, I started to request outings instead of physical gifts. Best idea ever. And oh, how I loved the symphony. A tingle of excitement ran through me as I dried my hands. Funny how the same music that stirred and inspired me had Roy snoring well before the intermission. 

I took my usual seat across from him, and he slid the rest of the paper over to me. I’d get to the crossword puzzle after I paged through the state and local news, though sometimes I wondered why I bothered. Today’s news was the usual depressing fare—a fire in an apartment building that left several families homeless, a young teen shot outside his home, another politician indicted on charges of some illegal nonsense. 

A picture halfway down the third page caught my eye. A young girl held a certificate of accomplishment from the city’s anti-gang initiative, a program started by one of Roy’s boyhood friends. Judge Ted Owens had done well for himself, rising from the public defender’s office to become a powerful force in the city’s political scene. After he won a seat on the juvenile court bench, the number of teens coming through his courtroom on gang-related charges prompted him to establish a citywide program aimed at keeping kids out of gangs. 

I studied the picture of the dark-skinned teenage girl. She looked about thirteen, the same age as Jenny when she disappeared. But something in this girl’s expression struck a dissonant note as surely as a violin out of tune. I raised the coffee cup to my lips, my gaze drifting down to the girl’s necklace. A pendant hung on a cord, an asymmetrical heart with a teardrop appearance. I could barely make out the design in the center, but it looked like someone’s initials. 

Taking a sharp breath, I sucked hot coffee into my windpipe. It burned down my throat and into my chest, sending me into a fit of coughing. The cup in my hand hit the table, bobbling and splashing dark brown spots onto the newsprint. I clamped one steadying hand over it, a coughing spasm threatening to expel my insides. Roy eyed me as I covered my mouth with both hands, my cough deep and wrenching. 

“Are you all right?” 

Unable to speak, I shook my head and pointed to the picture, swiveling the page toward Roy. His gaze dropped to the image, then rose back to me. 

“Tiana Brown? Am I supposed to know her?” 

I jabbed my finger at the girl’s chest, croaking between coughs. “That…pendant.” 

Roy picked up the paper and examined the picture up close. “I don’t get it. What about the pendant?”  

Each breath I inhaled prompted another round of coughing, but I managed to choke out two words. “Jenny. Ortiz.” 

Roy shook out the paper, stood, and moved into the morning light streaming through the window over the sink. “You’re sure it’s not one of those mass-produced junky things they sell at the mall?” 

I whipped my head from side to side and whispered, “Custom.” Inhaling long and slow, I tried speaking in my normal voice. It sounded raspy and uncertain even to me. “It was a gift from her father for her thirteenth birthday. His hobby was woodcarving, and he carved it for Jenny. Those initials are hers.” 

Roy looked skeptical, but studied the photo again. “And you remember that after how many years?” 

I cleared my throat several times and inhaled deeply. “I know that pendant is Jenny’s. She was so proud of it. And, Roy,”—I waited until his gaze locked with mine—“she was wearing it the day she disappeared.” 

Roy chewed the tips of his mustache along his upper lip and gazed back at the picture. “So someone out there knows what happened to her, maybe even knows where she is.” 

“Is it possible? After twelve years, will we finally know what happened to that poor child?” 

“Don’t set your hopes too high. It might not be anything.” Roy folded the page of newsprint, swallowed the last of his coffee, and hurried from the kitchen to his office. “Anthony’ll be coming over when he finishes his shift,” he called over his shoulder. “We were supposed to go out for breakfast. You’ll have to let him know I’ve been called out.” 

I followed him, stopping in the doorway of his office. “What are you going to do?” 

“First, I want to meet with Jenny’s dad to verify the pendant is hers.” Roy pulled open a drawer, then banged it shut. He shuffled through a stack of papers in a file folder.  

“It’s been years since you’ve had contact with Gary Ortiz.” My legs wobbled like gelatin and I leaned against the doorframe. “What if he’s moved?” 

“If he’s still alive, I can find him. And last time I saw him, he was very much alive.” Roy pulled a manila envelope from his file cabinet, opened the flap, and shook it upside down. A small, gray memory card dropped onto his desk. He fitted it into his laptop, waited for the screen to change then scrolled through the pages that popped up. A dozen clicks later he grabbed a pen and scribbled on a notepad. 

“Got it.” He dropped the pen onto the desk. “Same address as ten years ago.” He ejected the card, dropped it back into the envelope, returned that to the file cabinet, then shoved the drawer closed. I moved to stand at the corner of his desk. 

“I”m coming with you.” 

“No, Lainey.” He pulled on his jacket, slid a notepad into his pocket, and snatched the newsprint page from his desk. 

“But she was my student.” I blocked the door to keep him from going out. 

“I understand that, but it’s very likely I’ll be going into dangerous parts of town. I wouldn’t dare take you anywhere near them.” He adjusted the back of his jacket collar and angled his way between me and the doorframe. 

“How long will you be gone?” 

“Depends on who’s willing to talk. I’ll try to check in if it gets late.” 

“What am I supposed to do while you’re out? I can’t just sit here twiddling my thumbs.” 

Roy clamped his papers under his arm and put his hands on my shoulders. “You can pray. I have a hunch we’re going to need all the help we can get.” He bent to kiss me, then hurried out the door. I listened until the sound of his car faded as he backed out of the garage and the overhead door closed. 

Pray? I’d given that up years ago, almost as long ago as teaching. What’s the use when there’s never an answer? When you beg and plead and cry and nothing changes? 

Still, we finally had a solid clue, the first one since Roy was on the police force. An icy chill blanketed my shoulders and without even thinking, my hands clasped together beneath my chin. Prayer might not help, but it couldn’t hurt. I only hoped God still recognized my voice after all this time.


Purchase link: https://www.books2read.com/Pendant 

About the Author: 

Mary L. HamiltonMonsters under the bed never bothered author M L Hamilton. What kept her awake was the man hiding in her closet. She never did figure out who he was or how he managed to hide in her messy closet. But since then, she has imagined all sorts of other scary situations, which she hopes will provide the basis for more mystery/suspense stories. 

When not writing, she enjoys non-scary activities like knitting, spending time with her family, and a little amateur photography. She and her husband make their home in Texas. 

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Gems From Pastor Jim

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by Jim Hughes

CrossProv. 15:10 Whoever abandons the right path will be severely punished; whoever hates correction will die.

We must pay attention to this truth! There is severe punishment for those who abandon the right path. First of all, although it is not stated, it is God who punishes those who abandon Him. I don’t want to speculate on what that punishment may be, but I am certain that it won’t be pleasant to be subjected to severe punishment from God.

We also note that it is possible to abandon the right path. We can choose to do things that are displeasing to God. We can choose to not honor and serve Him. We can choose to not obey Him and let Him be the influencer of our lives. We are not spiritually stuck when we give the Lord our hearts.

No one who takes their faith seriously and is disciplined in it will abandon the Lord. Neglect is where it all starts. In order to stay true to the Lord we must be students of the Word. We must be reading, studying and meditating on the Word. We must let it be our measuring stick and strive to live consistently according to the Word. We must also be participators in prayer. We must pray regularly ourselves and not rely on others to pray for us. We must spend time alone with God in daily conversation. We must be driven by our faith and refuse to let it grow cold.

Anyone who hates correction will die. No one is beyond the need of correction. We need to know where we fall short of God’s standards of holiness and be humble enough to change our ways. We need to hear from God and others how to better live for Christ. We need to confront each other in a loving way so we can become more like the Master, a people after His own heart. Anyone who cannot, or won’t be, corrected has no hope or help from God. He will not live a life that is right with God and he will die in his sins.

“Lord, keep our souls humble and pliable. Help us to never let sin harden our hearts. Strip us of any pride that keeps us from not accepting correction when we need it. Give us open hearts that we may gladly accept Your corrections. Lord, we need your help if we are going to stay on the path that leads us to heaven. We need you, O Lord and we declare anew our allegiance to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Before and After the Honeymoon

About the Author:

Jim HughesSpending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

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