Monday, November 16, 2009

Team 1 in India- Praise and Prayers

I just received this email from Team 1 in India (I'm part of Team 2!).  If you have a moment to spare, would you please pray for these specific needs?  Thank you!

Grace, peace, and joy to you and yours in the love of our Savior God!

It is Monday afternoon in Hanamkonda India and our teams are starting to return from their first full day of ministry in the thandas. Spirits are very high as we are seeing many professions of faith and seekers who wish to hear more in the days to come!

To recap the last few days:
Our team experienced great favor in our travels as we all arrived in India as scheduled on Saturday, about 1 in the morning. After resting in a Hyderabad hotel we toured a huge local fort, experienced India's mass of humanity at a Muslim religious site, did some other sightseeing, had dinner and experienced a great night of rest. On Sunday, we boarded our bus as we traveled to Hanamkonda from Hyderabad. We were able to see tha Banjara Bible Training Center (Building in process) and meet the precious orphans at the hanamkonda orphanage. Dinner, orientation, and prayer followed before a short night's sleep. Everyone was up and out the hotel door this morning at 5:15AM to meet the India segment of our team and then on to the thandas at 7-7:30AM!

We so much appreciate your prayers!

Here are current concerns:

1) Please pray for Mary Wagner's health as she was not able to go out with the teams today due to nausea and stomach problems (Yesterday Matt wagner was under the weather but appears to be doing fine today). Also please just pray for the general health of our team as one of our team members is having panic attacks and another has had bouts of exhaustion due to diabetic conditions. Pray God's grace, favor, and healing hand on each team member as we believe their is a great harvest at hand! Pray Ephesians 6:10-20for all the team - NA and Indian nationals! Ask for His protection against the forces of evil so prevalent in this land.

2) Pray God continue to call and raise up His persons of peace, gatekeepers, shepherds, ... for each of the thandas (villages) we visit. Already, we are seeing precious new babies in Christ asking us to meet at their homes! Pray and ask the Lord of the Harvest to convict those hearing the gospel to accept His free gift during this week as we will go back to each thanda a number of times to preach, proclaim, teach, love, and generally manifest Christ's light as best we can! Pray the hundredfold increase ...

3) We ask for prayers for Hanuma Naik, our Indian interpreters, and the incredible Banjara brothers and sisters who have joined us on this team. May all language and culture barriers between us be broken down so our partnership in the Banjara's Judea ministry and our (USA) "ends of the earth" ministry bring great glory to our Almighty Sovereign LORD; pray that the light of Christ be blinding to those we are ministering too. Pray!

4) Also lift up the family members left behind - both in the USA and India. Ask our Father to place a special hedge of protection around each one - filling all with the joy and peace that transcends all understanding.

Jennifer, Kellie, Steve, Hank, Debra, Ali, Kris, Nicole, Ginny, Karen, Danny, Matthew, Dave, Mary,and myself all say hello and thank youfor your prayers!

In His Steps,
Mike Wagner
e3 Partners
Saturday, November 14, 2009

My leap of faith-the journey to India

How have I gotten here? What has made me decide to go? What happened? These are all the questions I hope to be able to answer about the decision to travel to India in November.

Several months ago, I participated in a missions meeting at church. The hosts (Mike & Mary Wagner from e3 partners) showed clips of trips to Rwanda and India. I thought I might like to go on a trip one day but then I found out the costs....

I sorta put it out of my mind for this year because we didn't know what the Army had planned for James, but it looked like he would be going back to Kuwait. I would need my time off to spend with him.

When Meagan was getting ready to leave for Costa Rica, I made the comment that I just couldn't imagine going on a trip because, quite honestly, I don't like to be uncomfortable AT ALL. I'm guessing the seeds were being planted a little deeper or maybe starting to sprout.

Not long after that, I went online and started looking at the information for going on the India trip. India?? Seriously, I'm still in shock.  (As I'm coming back to this post that I started months ago, I'm now only days  (5) away from going.  Just in case you're wondering, I'm still in shock that I'm going to India.)  During our Esther study, one of the take away points was to do what God asks you to do but let Him do the how of it.  While I didn't see the what or how or anything else of the trip to India, I knew He was in control and I knew He wanted me to GO.

I didn't know if this was the particular trip He meant for me to go on but I knew I had to be faithful and start the process.  I started by talking to James.  By now we were pretty certain he wasn't going to Kuwait and I would have the vacation time available.  However, would I be able to even get off work?  Just because I had the vacation time didn't mean I would be allowed to take it all the same time.  God is in control and the time off was approved.  My application was accepted.  I was on my way to faithfully preparing to go on a short-term mission trip to India.

There are alot of things to do when you're planning a short term mission trip to another country.  There is so much information to take in, review, study, know, read, talk about, etc.  Maybe they don't tell you how much you have to know before you sign up so you won't not sign up - you know what I mean? WOW

One of the biggest challenges for me was to ask people for money for the trip.  Almost timidly I sent out request letters.  I talked about it to people. I posted things online.  Always trusting God for the provisions but not quite sure how it was all going to work out.  I had heard multiple times that if God wants you to GO, then He will provide the funds.  I guess I expected Him to just provide the funds with little to no effort on my part.

I believe what God wanted was for me to humble myself for His kingdom work.  Sure, I was humble about going on over to India and helping a lost people group hear about Jesus.  But, was I humble enough to admit raising funds for the trip was about allowing God to work through His people for Him and not for me.  This is a hard one to explain.  With a servant's heart, I finally accepted that I couldn't control what people were going to give or even if they would give.  I couldn't control when they gave.  I could only do what God told me to do.  It was up to Him to take care of the how.  When I surrendered this control and worry, the funds came.  Not only did the funds come, but more than enough funds to cover my trip came.  The extra funds are being used as needed for other members of the team.

I never doubted God would provide the funds.  I just didn't think it would be such a learning process for me.  I didn't think the fund raising part would be the area that would really stretch me.  (Of course, I haven't gone  yet - I have a feeling the real stretching is yet to be seen.)

Sitting here writing this all down, and just thinking of how God is using me, is so incredibly humbling.  When I think of the pit of sin I stayed in and for how long I stayed there - I was trying to make that pit my home  - and how free He has made me, I just have to PRAISE HIM.  Free from the burdens of my past sin.  Free to come to Him when I fall short of His glory - which is all the time.  As the Casting Crowns song goes, "Who am I? That the eyes that see my sin, Would look on me with love, And watch me rise again. I am Yours." Amazing!  If God can use me (and He does) then He can use anyone. 

This has been an incredible learning and growing process for me.  My family & I have been through one trial after another.  The day my daughter said to me, "You must be doing a good job preparing for India because Satan really doesn't want you to go." I knew God was working through us all.  Confirmation from your children is a huge sign.

I've had some people say they wish they had the courage to go. Or even the want to go.  All I know is that if God says to go, and you respond to His call, He will make it all work.  It doesn't mean it will be easy.  But if it was all easy, would He get the glory??  If you don't have the desire to go, then it's quite possible He's not calling you to go!  He calls us all to do different things for His kingdom.  I have had a wonderful team of prayer warriors.  A slew of people who donated financially.  Many people who have given emotional support.  My small group and Sunday school class who have lived this trip through me.  They've watched me ponder about going, and all the steps in between. 

Am I ready for the trip? Probably not.  I imagine I'll still be packing up and preparing until it's time to walk out the door.  Is God ready for me to go on the trip? YES!  When I went to Him with my doubts, He very lovingly told me (in my spirit) He intended for me to go and He loves me so. 

It's taken me months to write this post.  It's been weird for me to have a story to tell but not have the words to say it.  I've waited for Him to say "it's time".  So, finally, it's time.  This is just the tip of the journey and the start of my leap of faith.  I can't wait to share with you about the experiences we had and about the miracles God performed.  Can you stand it??  PRAISE YOU!

Thank you for being a part of this journey with me. I can't wait to talk to you when I return!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Do you know about PostSecret? It's PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard. If you go to the site, just be prepared to spend some time going through everyone's secrets.  It's quite amazing what people will say when they have anonymity.  Back when Yahoo had 360 blogs, we had a community of people who submit weekly "secrets" (except they weren't anonymous, obviously).  It was fun to be creative (in my case, attempt to be creative) and submit a "secret" according to the topic the host picked.

The reason I'm posting about all of this is because one of the secrets I read today (new ones are posted every Sunday) struck a chord with me.  I'll leave you with the PostSecret card.  I'll be interested to see if it speaks to anyone else.

(By the way, I'm leaving for India in EIGHT DAYS!)
Monday, November 9, 2009

White Picket Fences - Review

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner
Amanda Janvier’s idyllic home seems the perfect place for her niece Tally to stay while her vagabond brother is in Europe, but the white picket fence life Amanda wants to provide is a mere illusion. Amanda’s husband Neil refuses to admit their teenage son Chase, is haunted by the horrific fire he survived when he was four, and their marriage is crumbling while each looks the other way.

Tally and Chase bond as they interview two Holocaust survivors for a sociology project, and become startlingly aware that the whole family is grappling with hidden secrets, with the echoes of the past, and with the realization that ignoring tragic situations won’t make them go away.

Readers of emotional dramas that are willing to explore the lies that families tell each other for protection and comfort will love White Picket Fences. The novel is ideal for those who appreciate exploring questions like: what type of honesty do children need from their parents, or how can one move beyond a past that isn’t acknowledged or understood? Is there hope and forgiveness for the tragedies of our past and a way to abundant grace?

Author Bio:
Susan Meissner cannot remember a time when she wasn’t driven to put her thoughts down on paper. Her novel The Shape of Mercy was a Publishers Weekly pick for best religious fiction of 2008 and a Christian Book Award finalist. Susan and her husband live in Southern California, where he is a pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves. They are the parents of four grown children.

My review:

I really enjoyed this book.  I picked it up one Sunday morning and I just about finished it that evening.  The book has several different story lines happening at one time but none of them leave you hanging or confused as to what all is happening.  I enjoyed getting to know each of the characters and I hope I'll get to see them again in the future.  I think most people can understand the way each family member had built his or her own wall and they all just pretended everything was ok.  I highly recommend adding this book to your library.

I received a free copy of this book from Multnomah in exchange for a review of the book.

Do you have any blogger friends who might like to participate in this or any other blog tours? Please direct them to the official WaterBrook Multnomah Blogging for Books site page at
Friday, November 6, 2009

The Call of Zulina

Freedom...more than the absence of chains.

Grace...more than a name.
The Call of Zulina...more than historical fiction...
a modern message regarding
slave trade and trafficking in the modern world.

If you've ever wondered about the relevance of fiction in modern day, The Call of Zulina will confirm the importance and responsibility of every genre to bring current social issues to the forefront as needed. With the rise of modern day slavery and human trafficking growing around the world and here in the United States, Kay Marshall Strom's newly release The Call of Zulina, takes readers into the depths of Africa two hundred years ago and raises questions and scenarios never before thought about.

An arranged marriage, a runaway bride, and an ugly family heritage of brutal and inhumane slavery operations leave no room for a fairytale story. Grace Winslow, daughter of an English sea captain and African princess, finds herself in a horrific position of betrothal. Doomed to marry an obnoxious white man, whom she does not love, Grace runs away to escape the slavery she’s been surrounded by all her life. Instead, her journey from home brings her face-to-face with issues of extreme slavery, abuse and human trafficking. In the end she discovers slavery is more than just chains and finds grace that exceeds a name given to her by her parents.

The Call of Zulina links historical slavery issues with the modern-day crisis tainting many countries. On the heels of important legislature regarding human trafficking, Strom tackles the subject boldly as she sheds light on the practices and techniques used by angry slave traders. Seen as an advocate for those who have no voice, Strom finds words to communicate the message of history to today’s readers. While this book shines the light on an uncomfortable subject, the message of hope, freedom, and justice prevail and eternal truths discovered.

About the Author:
Author Kay Marshall Strom has two great loves: writing and helping others achieve their own writing potential. Kay has written thirty-six published books, numerous magazine articles, and two screenplays. While mostly a nonfiction writer, the first book of her historical novel trilogy Grace in Africa has met with acclaim. Kay speaks at seminars, retreats, writers’ conferences, and special events throughout the country and around the world. She is in wide demand as an instructor and keynote speaker at major writing conferences. She also enjoys speaking aboard cruise ships in exchange for exotic cruise destinations.

What Can Concerned Citizens Do to Raise Awareness?
  • Find out all you can about Modern Day Slavery: then watch for chances to pass on what you have learned.
  • Write to your elected officials: Petition them to place a high priority on enforcing anti-slavery laws and to put pressure on countries that tolerate forced labor or human trafficking.
  • Buy Fair Trade products: Fair trade provides a sustainable model of international trade based on economic justice. To find out more, see .
  • Support organizations that are in a position to make a difference. When you find an one that is doing a good job on the front lines, contribute to their cause so they can continue on.
  • Be willing to step into the gap. If you suspect someone is being held against his or her will, call the Department of Justice hotline: 1-888-428-7581. Or you can call 911.

My review:
Once I started this book, I had a really hard time putting it down.  The plot was quick to pull me and interest me.  I just had to know what was going to happen next.  I also appreciated learning more about what is going on around me and what I can do about it.

Thank you Kathy Carlton Willis Communications for the free copy of the book to review!

Leaving Carolina

Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh

Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina, twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.

Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s.

Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.

Interested in purchasing the book? Click here for more information!

Thank you Liz, Publicist at Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, for my free review copy of this book!

Do you have any blogger friends who might like to participate in this or any other blog tours? Please direct them to the official WaterBrook Multnomah Blogging for Books site page at

What Matters Most

What Matters Most by Melody Carlson

Maya’s Green Tip for the Day: Recycled fashion is one of the most fun ways to go green. A pair of jeans could be transformed into a denim skirt. A sweater into a vest. A bunch of old ties into a dress. A blanket into a poncho. Accessorize it in new way–with beads, buttons, appliqués, buckles, stencils, or ribbons…your imagination is only the limit. (65 words)

Sixteen-year-old Maya Stark has a lot to sort through. She could graduate from high school early if she wants to. She’s considering it, especially when popular cheerleader Vanessa Hartman decides to make her life miserable–and Maya’s ex-boyfriend Dominic gets the wrong idea about everything.

To complicate matters even more, Maya’s mother will be released from prison soon, and she’ll want Maya to live with her again. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. And when Maya plays her dad’s old acoustic guitar in front of an audience, she discovers talents and opportunities she never expected. Faced with new options, Maya must choose between a “normal” life and a glamorous one. Ultimately, she has to figure out what matters most.

I always enjoy a Melody Carlson book.  I love that she writes fiction for teens, since I have to teenage daughters.  When I buy them a Melody Carlson book, I don't have to worry what type of crazy junk will be in it!  I also love the fact that my girls and I can share her books!

Interested in purchasing the book?  Click here for more information!

Thank you Liz Johnson, Publicist at Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, for my free review copy of this book!

Do you have any blogger friends who might like to participate in this or any other blog tours? Please direct them to the official WaterBrook Multnomah Blogging for Books site page at .


Limelight by Melody Carlson

Claudette Fioré used to turn heads and break hearts. She relished the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle because she had what it takes: money, youth, fame, and above all, beauty. But age has withered that beauty, and a crooked accountant has taken her wealth, leaving the proud widow penniless and alone.

Armed with stubbornness and sarcasm, Claudette returns to her shabby little hometown and her estranged sister. Slowly, she makes friends. She begins to see her old life in a new light. For the first time, Claudette Fioré questions her own values and finds herself wondering if it’s too late to change.

I love anything written by Melody Carlson.  The fact that she can write something that moves me and makes me chuckle is great.  I like how diverse of a writer she is.  Thank you for another great book!

Interested in buy this book? Click here for purchase information!

Thank you Liz Johnson, Publicist at Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, for my free review copy of this book!

Do you have any blogger friends who might like to participate in this or any other blog tours? Please direct them to the official WaterBrook Multnomah Blogging for Books site page at
Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In

Ok, I realize it's not Wednesday and it's been a wee bit since I've posted one of these. But here I am on Tuesday - just to keep you on your toes!  My schedule has been jam packed with things and I've been going to Weight Watchers on Monday (or not going at all).  So, drum roll please, I've lost another 1.4 lbs, making my total weight loss: 8 lbs!  (A lady last night had lost 8 lbs just that's slow going when you have hypothyroidism, but because I've been losing for the past few weeks, I'm thinking my medicine and my bod are starting to communicate.)  I'm proud of myself for perservering.  I think when I go to India, I'll be on the quick drop weight loss plan ;).

I shall leave you with a recipe from Weight Watchers honoring my upcoming trip:

Chicken Tikka Masala
POINTS® Value: 7
Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 30 min
Cooking Time: 15 min
Level of Difficulty: Moderate


2/3 cup(s) low-fat plain yogurt
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp ginger root, fresh, grated
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 pound(s) uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1 small jalapeno pepper(s), minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
8 oz canned tomato sauce
1 cup(s) fat-free evaporated milk
1/4 cup(s) cilantro, fresh, chopped
2 cup(s) cooked white rice, basmati, kept hot


  • To prepare chicken, in a large bowl, whisk together first seven ingredients; add chicken and toss to coat. Cover bowl and marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

  • Preheat outdoor grill, stovetop grill pan or nonstick skillet.

  • Skewer chicken pieces onto four metal or wooden skewers. Grill or cook skewers in a hot skillet until chicken is cooked through, turning frequently, about 5 to 7 minutes. (Make sure to soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes to prevent charring.)

  • To make sauce, heat oil in a large, high-sided skillet (or wide saucepan) over medium heat. Add remaining minced garlic clove and jalapeno; cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Add remaining teaspoon of cumin and paprika and stir to coat. Add tomato sauce and evaporated milk, reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

  • Remove grilled chicken from skewers. Add to tomato mixture and simmer 1 minute to heat through. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Serve with rice. Yields about 1 cup of chicken mixture and 1/2 cup of rice per serving. 
© 2009 Weight Watchers International, Inc. © 2009, Inc. All rights reserved.
WEIGHT WATCHERS and POINTS are the registered trademarks of Weight Watchers International, Inc. and are used
under license by, Inc.

Pay It Forward


My friend, Cathy at TCKK, posted a Pay it Forward giveaway post last month and I won!  If you haven't visited her blog before, you should go!  She has the sweetest spirit and has been a pure delight to me.  We're all sorts of cyber connected and I love it!

Look at the sweet gifts she sent me.  (She sent me a book by one of her favorite authors, a snowman, an angel, a donation for my India trip and a sweet note!) My favorite gift was the handwritten note with a donation for my trip and the precious words of encouragement.  Sweet sweet lady. Thank you, Cathy!

Since I won, I get to Pay It Forward and send a prize to two winners. Now, you have to know that I'm a little slow in sending out things because we cannot mail anything from our office and I always forget to go to the Post Office.  So, I just wanna make sure you know that :-).  Anyway, here are the rules:

In order to win, you need to be willing to...
Give me your mailing address so I can send a small gift your way.
Write your own Pay It Forward post after you receive your gift telling about it, and in that post link back to my blog.
Come up with gifts to send out to YOUR 2 winners.

*If that sounds like rules you can follow, then please leave me a comment letting me know you'd like to be entered! Anyone may leave a comment. You do not have to have a blog but I will need to know how to contact you.
*If you're listed above as a Follower, you may leave a 2nd comment thus doubling your odds.
*If you blog about the giveaway, you may leave a 3rd comment!

This contest will close on Friday night, October 30. Winners will be chosen randomly... I'll post the Winners by Sunday, November 1st.  Bon chance!