Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Book list - Christmas 2022


Christmas book ideas for 2022

If you need help finding books for holiday giving, here are some suggestions for Christmas, 2022. From new releases to older favorites, the list includes books for children, humor, devotions, romance, and those who need suggestions on how to survive the season. 

 Merry Christmas!

Amazon link

Monday, October 31, 2022

Kristi Neace, Above the Fray: A Four-week Bible Study for Those Special Ladies Married to the Badge


Click to see Above the Fray on Amazon.com

Above the Fray, By Kristi Neace

 A Four-Week Bible Study for Those Special Ladies Married to the Badge


Topical study - walks the reader through the many facets of law enforcement life and emotions, with scriptures to help offer solutions

Who might benefit

Law Enforcement Wives/Girlfriends/Significant Other


  Worried?  Nah, Just Scared to Death!

Week One – Day 1

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56:3 KJV

You know you’re a police wife if...

I’ll bet you’ve read those little ditties on social media which include this phrase, but if not, each one gives a silly situation that only someone married to the law would understand.

One of them goes something like: You know you’re a police wife if your best friend, mom, sister and co-workers continually ask if you worry about your husband.  Duh.  We would not be human (or not love our husbands) if there wasn’t a moment in time we did not worry.

Let’s face it...law enforcement is a dangerous occupation, and we’ve all read the stories of officers not making it home to their families, or we’ve watched in horror at news reports of an officer using deadly force amid public outcry.

So how do we keep our worry in check?

How do we keep our sanity and not cave in to our fears when it seems as everything around us is falling apart?

Let’s take a look back at some other folks who were struggling with worry and fear.  Read the passage then answer the question.

John 20:19-27 – What did Jesus tell his disciples three times while they were in a locked room, hiding from those who might want to harm them?

What does this say to us today regarding our present circumstances?

Acts 1:12-14 – What were the disciples and women doing during this time of persecution and waiting?

How important is it that we pray when feeling worried or uptight, and why?

Looking back at your questions, the first set of scriptures revolve around the disciples immediately following Christ’s betrayal, crucifixion and death.

Jesus had been well-known throughout Jerusalem and the surrounding towns, and was never without his beloved entourage.  Just as in law enforcement life, these individuals were living in a glass bubble and everyone knew who they were.

After witnessing such horrific and hurtful acts of violence towards their beloved teacher, the disciples were afraid and hid themselves in a locked room.  We can rest assured there were no bumper stickers linking them with being a Christ-follower; no “I’m with Jesus” t-shirts.  These men (and women) were scared and fearing for their lives.

Yet, Jesus knew the anguish they were going through.  He cared deeply for them just as He cares deeply for you and me today.  So much so, that He made it His mission to personally comfort and reassure them.

 “Peace be with you!”

Those words rolled off His tongue with authority and confidence, yet they were more comforting than a mother’s embrace.  Jesus was alive and He wanted them to let go of their fears, knowing that He had overcome the worst human fear of all...death.

Can you just imagine?  Have you ever been scared and alone, not knowing what to do or where to go, and then, out of nowhere, someone you love deeply comes to your rescue?  Ahh...what relief!

A number of years ago, I had traveled by myself to a conference in Kansas City, Missouri.  Now, I’m not one who likes to travel alone, but I was part of a women’s ministry team and was speaking at a break-out session.  I made the 4-hour trek by myself.  Late that evening, after the conference had ended for the night, each of us made our way back to the hotel except for me.  It was late and I was tired.  A blinding rain was falling which made it harder for me to see.  I was in unfamiliar territory and without a GPS.  The plan was for me to follow behind a friend of mine; however, in all the confusion, I missed my turn.  I was lost, and now found myself on an interstate going towards Wichita, Kansas. To say I freaked puts it mildly.  I got off the interstate and entered a...let me see...not so good part of town.  Visions of being hacked to pieces and thrown in the river taunted me, and I felt sad that my officer husband would never know what happened.  Sigh.  I worried.  I began tearing up.  I prayed.   Finally, I stopped and called my man.  His calming voice on the other end of the phone soothed my fears.  Though my anxiety had pretty much taken over, he gave me enough sense to get back on the interstate and find my way back to where I had started, and eventually to the hotel.

Have you ever had to face a frightening situation, but God somehow reassured you that everything would be okay?  Explain here:

In Acts 1, we see the men and women again, huddled together in the upper room.  This time, however, instead of imagining them wringing their hands and pacing the floor, they were actively seeking a solution through prayer.

Sweet sister, there are going to be many occasions when fearful and worrisome times come your way.  There will be those calls when your husband leaves for a hostage situation or a pursuit; when all chaos breaks loose and it seems as if the world is coming for your man...and you, with daggers and torches.  Don’t be shaken.

Those are the moments when you must spring into action.  Prayer is your weapon of victory.  Not only will God fill you with His overwhelming peace, but He will give you the level-headedness to make wise decisions, to not overreact, and/or to wait patiently for that “all’s clear” call after the fact.

When I was a little girl, my momma always quoted this simple scripture to me, and it has served me well over the years, so I want to share it with you, What time I am afraid, I will trust in you. Psalm 56:3.

Join with me as I pray over our officers today, for our peace and assurance to know that He has your back.

Dear Father,

Thank You for being a loving God who comforts us and is concerned for our peace of mind.  I pray today that You will shelter our officers and keep them hidden away from the enemy who wants to destroy them.  I pray that You will help us know that even in the dark times, we can trust You to see us through.  Lord, give us clear direction and help us to always find our solace in You.

In Your Son’s Holy Name, Amen.

See you tomorrow, friend.


About the author

Kristi Neace is a seasoned author, blogger, speaker and Founder of Badge of Hope Ministries.  She has been a guest on numerous media outlets such as CNN, Breitbart News, The Hard Line, BOTT Radio, Larry Connors USA, and many others in regard to civil unrest and the law enforcement response.  Kristi has served for over 17 years in women’s ministry and is an avid Bible teacher.  She and her husband reside in Missouri.  They have three grown children/spouses, and two grandchildren.

Contact Kristi



 Click to see Above the Fray on Amazon.com

Dr. Michelle Bengtson, Hope Prevails


By 2020, depression will be our greatest global epidemic

[Note-originally published in 2017]

In any given year, approximately 18.8 million American adults suffer from a depressive disorder. At some point, about one in four Americans will experience depression.

If you have not suffered from depression, you know someone who has or does!  

Dr. Bengtson offers hope

as a key to unlock joy and relief

—even in the middle of the storm.

Hope Prevails educates the reader on what depression is and where it comes from. Dr. Bengtson teaches what the enemy does to get and keep us depressed. She also shows that despite depression, because of Him, Hope Prevails! She offers treatment strategies as well as prescriptive action plans at the end of each chapter. Now, she has added a  companion Bible Study to the Best seller, Hope Prevails.

Recommended for men or women who are struggling with depression or have loved ones who do. 

***Sample ***

Excerpt from Hope Prevails Bible Study Chapter 6 ~ Reclaim Your Peace.

"Now may the Lord of peace himself

give you peace at all times and in every way.

The Lord be with all of you."

2 Thessalonians 3:16

We didn't ask for it, and we weren't prepared for it when it struck. In fact, the most devastating news came at what was supposed to be our most joyus occasion in years. The doctor's comfirmation that my husband had cancer came the same day Hope Prevails released. The launch party andd major book signing event were planned within a few days, yet amidst the celebrating, our hearts were breaking.

We had walked this path before - a different form, but cancer nonetheless. We weren't newbies. We had visions from the previous experience infiltrating our minds. The treatment would be similar - unwelcome but necessary.

The truth is, cancer stinks. Cancer hurts. Cancer doesn't just affect the one diagnosed; it impacts the entire family and to some degree, friends and extended family as well. Nobody asks for it, and nobody wants to go through it - much like depression.

Cancer and depression are our enemies, and just like the enemy of our souls, they seek to steal, kill, and destroy. If that is what we focus on, that is what will happen. But as with everything in life, it's a matter of perspective, and we get to choose our perspective.

Indeed, we will all go through difficult times, the cancerous times; relationship difficulty, financial strains, health issues, job problems, etc. They aren't wanted or invited. But the even greater truth is that we don't walk through these trials alone, and Jesus promised in John 16:33 that we can have peace through them. So while the fiery darts are flying and we must walk this valley, we do so with swords drawn, prayers raised, and faith in the One who has already overcome it all and offers His peace through it.

  1. The enemy attempts to bring on depression by killing our peace. What hope-filled promise are we given in 2 Thessalonians 3:16?

2. How would you characterize peace?

3. What is the name of God given in Judges 6:24?

4. Read John 14:27 and John 16:33. These two verses indicate that peace comes from where?  As a what?

The key is that in Him, we can have peace, not on our own. In what ways do you find yourself sacrificing your peace?

5. One of the quickest ways the enemy can get us to surrender our peace is to cause us to become anxious. When we are anxious, we are not at peace. Anxiety results from feeling out of control. But if we surrender to God, letting Him be in control, we can remain in perfect peace. Which four keys does Paul give us to maintain our peace in Philippians 4:6-7?

6. When we worry, we believe the enemy's lies, taking our eyes off God and focusing on ourselves and our circumstances. Why do you think it's so easy to worry and sometimes so hard to trust God?

Read Matthew 6:25, 6:30-33, and 1 Peter 5:7. What motivation are we given not to worry?

About the author

Dr. Michelle Bengtson (PhD, Nova Southeastern University) is an international speaker, and the author of best-selling “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” and now the companion "Hope Prevails Bible Study."  She has been a neuropsychologist for more than twenty years. She is in private practice in Southlake, Texas where she evaluates, diagnoses, and treats children and adults with a variety of medical and mental health disorders.

She knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and for those who care for them. She offers sound practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith.

She and her husband of 30 years have two teenage sons, and reside in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. She blogs regularly on her own site: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com

For more hope, stay connected with me at:

Website: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com

Blog: http://drmichellebengtson.com/category/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrMichelleBengtson

Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/DrMBengtson (@DrMBengtson)

LinkedIn: http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/DrMichelleBengtson

Google+: http://www.google.com/+MichelleBengtson

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/drmichellebengtson

Pinterest:  http://www.Pinterest.com/Drbhopeprevails

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn92DHzGSZk8psDb2FKazOQ

Hope Prevails Bible Study

Hope Prevails

Kathy Collard Miller, Choices of the Heart


Choices of the Heart:

Daughters of the King Bible Study Series

by Kathy Collard Miller

A women’s Bible study with ten lessons

contrasting two biblical women in each lesson

and the choices they made,

one godly and one ungodly.


Welcome Kathy! Tell us about why you wrote this study.

Women love the women of the Bible and God loves assuring us He created and values each of us. The biblical women included in this study teach us godly reactions about choices dealing with trusting God, praying powerfully, forgiving, obedience, and other topics.

Who do you think will enjoy this?

Young moms, women, seekers. Suitable for individual or group study.



  1. Rebekah and Rahab: Believing God’s Sovereignty
  2. Job’s Wife and the Woman of Shunem: Trusting God’s Goodness
  3. Jezebel and Deborah: Using God’s Power and Influence
  4. Naomi and the Syrophoenician Woman: Praying Powerfully
  5. Gomer and the Forgiven Woman: Taking Hold of Forgiveness
  6. Sarah and Lydia: Obeying God’s Plan
  7. Sapphira and the Samaritan Woman: Choosing Honesty
  8. Bathsheba and Hannah: Dealing with Temptation
  9. Miriam and Leah: Struggling with Jealousy and Discontent
  10. Martha and Mary: Practicing God’s Presence

Lesson 1

Rebekah and Rahab

Believing Gods Sovereignty

Sometimes we wonder about God and the way he works. We begin to think we know better than he does, especially when he doesn’t work in other people’s lives the way we think he should. After all, change will be better for everyone!

Pastor and author Charles Swindoll defines God’s sovereignty as “our all-wise, all-knowing God reigning in realms beyond our comprehension to bring about a plan beyond our ability to alter, hinder, or stop.” Thinking of Pastor Swindoll’s definition makes us wonder why God doesn’t just make the world a place where nothing bad happens. And, of course, the real question is, why do bad things happen to me?

But think for a moment what would happen if nothing challenging or bad occurred in your life. Would you need God? Would you grow emotionally or spiritually? Ask yourself, when have I been closer to God and become a better person? Usually, we come by such closeness while we are in the midst of difficult circumstances. Of course, not always, but usually, if we seek God, we sense his love and care. Because of God’s sovereignty, he allows difficult circumstances and situations in our lives. If we can see all things as being allowed by him, we will cooperate with his plan.


  • How do you define good choices and bad choices?


  • What influences your choices?


  • How do you feel when someone doesn’t make the choice you think they should?


Our reaction to what happens around us can give us a clue as to whether we’re trusting God. If we’re feeling tense or angry or reacting with control and manipulation, we might want to ask, Do I really trust Gods sovereignty? Do I truly believe God is loving and good?

Rebekah and Rahab faced challenges and responded in different ways. The examples of their choices can help us recognize more of God’s sovereignty—his ability to make his plan happen so he’ll reveal his love and power. As a result, we’ll increase our trust in him.


Rebekah is the wife of Isaac and the mother of twin sons, Esau and Jacob. She doesn’t seem to have a sense at all of God’s sovereignty and power. She takes matters into her own hands. Unfortunately, such control doesn’t bring her the results she wants.


  • Scan through Genesis 25:23, 27-34; 27:1-28:5. As the older son, Esau should receive the inheritance according to custom. What had God determined would happen between the twins (25:23)?
  • From Genesis 25:27-34, summarize what you observe about this family’s relationships and dynamics.
  • Can you identify any of those same dynamics occurring in your family or relationships?


Sometimes God seems contradictory. After all, didn’t he set up the rule stating the older son should receive the inheritance and the younger one be subservient? Yet, here he is commanding something different.

That’s because God has a bigger plan. As he predicted, Esau and Jacob become the beginning of two nations still at odds today: the Israelites and the Arabs (originally the Edomites). When Esau and Jacob were born, no one could envision the future, yet God knew the result.

The amazing thing about God’s sovereignty is how he fulfills his plans and predictions, and yet people have a free will to make their own choices. And somehow, those choices are incorporated into God’s plan—a paradox stumping theologians even today.

Yes, God seems contradictory at times, but he knows the plans he has for our good and his glory (Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28). Let’s see how Rebekah responds to God’s “contradiction.”


  • What does Rebekah overhear (Genesis 27:1-5)?
  • What wrong method(s) does she use to try to fulfill God’s plan herself (vv. 6-10)?
  • Instead of her deceit, what godly reaction(s) could she have taken?


Rebekah decides to correct the situation herself instead of trusting in God’s sovereignty and power. God had promised the elder son’s blessing would go to Jacob, but she had no confidence in God’s power to override Isaac’s poor choice.

Can you think of a time when you saw someone making a poor choice and felt compelled to step in to steer the situation in a seemingly “better” way, yet you didn’t seek God’s will? Or you didn’t take action, but your emotional response lacked grace and goodness? Now looking back, were you really trusting in God’s sovereignty?

Think of other incidents where you are successful. A friend treats you with contempt, and you respond with grace. A child is disobedient, and you see how God disciplines yourself with patience. A family member disappoints you, and you offer the forgiveness God has given you. Someone gossips about you, and you remind yourself your value isn’t in their opinion but in God’s view of you.

In those times of failed or successful responses, think through what was going on within you. Did you reject or depend upon any Scripture? Did you recall any previous experience(s) contributing to your typical responses? What qualities of God did you cast away or rehearse?

These kinds of questions help us get in touch with our motives. They also help us be honest with our failures and successes rather than excusing ourselves or becoming proud.


  • What are Jacob’s misgivings about his mother’s plan (Genesis 27:11-12)?
  • How does Rebekah respond to his fears (v. 13)?


So often, when we do something to try to make life better, like Rebekah, we are actually making things worse. Rebekah thinks she is loving her beloved son, Jacob, “well.” She thinks she is doing something to make his life better. She thinks she is protecting him from being abused and from injustice. And certainly, at times, God will call us to protect and provide for people. But Rebekah isn’t responding in God’s power or in obedience to him. She never gives God a chance to correct the situation. She takes control herself.

Notice Jacob’s fear. What is Rebekah teaching him about God and the way to deal with tension and injustice? Certainly not to trust God. She doesn’t pray or instruct Jacob on “how to deal with disobedient people in a godly way.” She doesn’t model the way to communicate because she never tries to talk to her husband (as far as we know). Instead, she gives her son the example of deception and distrust.

Yet if someone had asked her whether she loved Jacob and wanted the best for him, she most likely would have answered, Well, of course. Why else would I be doing this?

We also are not loving someone “well” when we rescue them from experiencing God’s discipline through the consequences of their poor behavior. We’re also not loving them in a godly way when we don’t trust God. We’re encouraging them to distrust him also.


  • Rebekah goes to a lot of trouble in her deception. What is the plan, and how does her plan turn out (Genesis 27:14-40)?
  • How would you describe Rebekah’s character at this point? What kind of woman is she?
  • What is one of the results of her plan (v. 41)?
  • What is another of the consequences (Genesis 27:42-28:5)?
  • From Genesis 26:34-35 and 28:6-9, what aggravation filled her life?


If we could talk to Rebekah today, I’m sure she would defend her actions and sound convincing. She might say, Im only helping God fulfill his own plan. God promised Jacob would be the recipient of the inheritance, and Im only helping to fulfill the promise. If I need to use a little deception to make sure my son gets what he deserves, then, well, the end justifies the means.

Criticizing Rebekah in hindsight is easy. But don’t you and I also rationalize at times with the “end justifies the means” excuse? We can convince ourselves we’re merely claiming God’s promise and assisting the fulfillment of his promise.

How can we protect ourselves from falling into this self-deceptive trap? We must seek the godly wisdom and guidance of others to get an objective perspective. Rebekah could have taken into account her son’s reaction of fear to give her a clue as to what was happening. And she could have talked the situation over with her husband and trusted in the shield her submission would have been for her.

We can also pay attention to our inner compulsions. If we feel tense thinking of doing something, maybe we’re forcing our way. Depending upon God and walking in righteousness produces peace (Isaiah 26:3). If we are not experiencing peace, we may be taking matters into our own hands rather than waiting upon God’s timing and incorporating his methods.

Rebekah paid dearly for her distrust of God’s sovereignty. She didn’t realize Jacob’s escape wouldn’t be for just “a few days.” Instead, she never saw her favorite son again and died before Jacob returned many years later. And in the meantime, she found life almost intolerable because of her pagan daughters-in-law.

The consequences of distrusting God’s sovereignty were serious and significant in Rebekah’s life. God gives us her example as a warning.

Kathy C MillerAbout the Author

Kathy Collard Miller is a wife, mom of two and grandmother of two. She lives in Southern California with her husband, Larry, and they have been married since 1970. Kathy has over 55 books published and has traveled the world speaking in over 35 US states and 9 foreign countries. Her books include Christian living topics, women’s Bible studies, compiled books and commentaries.


Connect with Kathy 

Amazon author page


Twitter @KathyCMiller

Facebook KathyCollardMillerAuthor

Instagram KathyCollardMiller


Choices of the Heart

Choices of the Heart on Amazon

Whispers of the Heart on Amazon

At the Heart of Friendship on Amazon


Deborah Haddix, Engaging the Scripture: Encountering God in the Pages of His Word


Engaging the Scripture:

Encountering God in the Pages of His Word

by Deborah Haddix


The Bible is one of God's greatest gifts to His people. It's a gift that is vital to the health of our soul. Yet many of us are missing out on many of the benefits of this amazing gift because we don't feel that we know how to read it for understanding. Engaging the Scripture explores 5 ways a reader can learn to interact with the text of the Bible, encountering God.


What will readers gain from this?

Engaging the Scripture was written as a resource for helping to equip and encourage women to read the Bible for themselves.


Who will benefit from Engaging the Scripture?

Anyone of any age or experience can benefit from Engaging the Scripture. It will be particularly beneficial to those who feel ill-equipped to read the Bible on their own or tend to read it on a surface level and to all who wish to know God more intimately.

~~ Sample ~~

  • The words of the Bible are living and active:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13


  • Scripture revives our soul and makes the truth known:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19:7


  • It equips us for service:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17


  • The words of Scripture form us into one who can stand strong in the battle:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12


  • The Bible instructs us, encourages us, and helps us endure.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4


  • It helps us come to know God:

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3


Spend some additional time in Psalm 119, a chapter replete with the benefits of Scripture! In this one chapter alone, you will find that Scripture nourishes the soul (v. 25), convicts (v. 29), redirects our wayward gaze (v. 37), fills us with hope (v. 49), comforts (v. 50), prompts our praise (v. 62), reassures (v. 75), fosters love (v. 97), leads to wisdom (v. 100), feeds the hungry soul (v. 103), strengthens the weary (v. 107), guards and protects (v. 115), assures us of our inheritance (v. 123), lifts the discouraged (v. 147), and offers peace (v. 165).


All this and more are true of this precious gift of Scripture. Yet perhaps the chief reason the Bible is crucial to the nourishing of our soul is that when we spend time in Scripture, we encounter God. In fact, every time we come to the Bible, we can meet God; we can come to know Him more.


Spending time in the Bible is like stepping into God’s house; we can learn so much about Him by visiting his “home.” Similarly, if you were to step into my house, you would learn much about me from what you notice there. For instance, the many books on the shelves would tell you that I enjoy reading. Toys and sippy cups would be indicators that young children are frequently in my home, and all the photos of my family on display would speak of their value to me. It is the same with the Bible. Everything is there, within its pages, because God desires it to be.


The Importance of Scripture to Jesus


Not only is Scripture of utmost importance to us today, God’s Word tells us of its significance to Jesus as He walked this earth:


“But he answered, ‘It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by

every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  Matthew 4:4


In essence, Scripture provided His life mission statement.  Through it, He was strengthened to resist Satan’s temptations and taught to compose the Lord’s Prayer. Scripture inspired His wisdom and helped Him to endure the agony of the cross.  It was Jesus’ intimacy with God’s words that empowered Him to overcome by the love of the Father and the power of the Spirit.


Just as Scripture was of most importance to Jesus as He walked the earth, it is vital to the health of our soul today. Whether we truly understand just how vital, most of us desire to spend time in God’s Word. As children of the King, we want to know His will and to have His Word inform our lives. We want to know Him and to live transformed lives. Yet, we struggle.


Book Trailer 


About the Author

As a writer, speaker, and Christian life coach, Deborah Haddix helps empower women to embrace God’s design for their life.  Her newly published Engaging the Scripture: Encountering God in the Pages of His Word as well as her previous books: Journaling for the Soul, Praying with Purpose,  and Soul Nourishment are all examples of how Deborah comes alongside women to encourage them with practical ideas and ready resources as they carry out their God-designed roles.

Deborah is passionate about encouraging and equipping Christian women to live more joyful and abundant lives in a world turned upside down.  She writes, blogs, speaks, and coaches on topics of specific interest to today’s busy woman.  In conjunction with those topics, she endeavors to provide relevant, easy-to-navigate resources and to deliver stimulating and engaging events.

Connect with Deborah


Facebook Deborah

Facebook (Engaging the Scripture book page)




Google + 

Amazon link

Other books by Deborah Haddix

Journaling for the Soul Amazon link

Read more about Journaling here


Ellen Fannon, Other People's Children


Other People’s Children

by Ellen Fannon

Welcome, Ellen!

Interesting title. What is the book about?

This is a humorous, fictional book based on my husband’s and my ten years as foster parents.

What an incredible ministry. Please tell us more about the book. 

It is a contemporary fiction. As a mid-thirties woman, Robin has all the answers on proper parenting. It doesn’t take long, however, for Robin to realize that her perfect parenting ideas and reality often collide—the result being an amusing journey of finding out that God, indeed, has a sense of humor. As she deals with the baggage, idiosyncrasies, unique personalities, and special gifts of each child who crosses her path, she finds that there is no “one-size fits all” to parenting. However, in spite of the challenges she and her husband face, they are determined to become the children’s strongest advocates in a flawed system that often fails the very victims it is designed to protect. The journey is often heartbreaking and frustrating, but these foster parents are firmly resolved that for whatever time they have children in their care, the children will know they are safe, protected and loved by God . . . and their foster parents.

Lovely message. What prompted you to write about this?

Several things inspired me to write Other People’s Children. First, I felt it was a timely book with a story which needed to be told. With a child entering foster care every 120 seconds in this country, the numbers of children in the system just keep growing. This is largely due to an increase in substance abuse by parents. Sadly, as the number of children in foster care grows, the number of available foster homes is decreasing. I highly recommend that anyone considering becoming foster parents read this book.

Second, I have not seen another book written from the perspective of a foster parent. Most books, movies, etc. portray foster parents in a negative light, which gives those who are truly trying to make a difference in a child’s life a bad name.

Third, I wrote it for entertainment. Other People’s Children is the humorous look at a very imperfect woman whose concepts of how things should be and how things actually are often collide.

Fourth, I wrote it to present Christ. Although not “preachy,” I wanted the message to come across that the main character, although often falling short, tries her best to be a good Christian wife and mother, who will not compromise her beliefs for anything, including political correctness.

Who will benefit from reading Other People's Children?

Anyone who is a foster parent or considering becoming a foster parent should read Other People’s Children. Besides those in foster parenting, Other People’s Children is a humorous, entertaining, and thought-provoking read.

Sounds like a good read for everyone! Thank you.

~~Sample ~~

WHY are children so childish? Robin groused to herself as she sat valiantly attempting to put two coherent thoughts together for her newspaper column that was due tomorrow. But every time she had an idea, it disappeared through the leaky sieve of her brain before she could formulate it into meaningful words on her computer screen. She was having difficulty concentrating due to the continuous racket of yelling, slamming, stomping, and arguing that was threatening to tear the house apart. Tuning it out had not worked. Nor had ignoring it - and she was starting to become concerned about what she would find beyond her office door. Muttering under her breath, she threw open the door and ventured forth into the fray.

Of course. They were arguing over the fly swatter. There were only two million, five-hundred thousand, six hundred and seventy four (give or take) assorted toys of every shape, size, color, and model in the play room, as well as enough outdoor play equipment to make it look like their home was the site of a perpetual yard sale, and the kids were arguing over the fly swatter. She put her hands on her hips and glared at the three youngsters engaged in the heat of the battle.

“I had it FIRST!” declared Jeremy.

“But I saw the fly!” countered Jenny.

“Miss Robin,” cried Melody, spying a potential ally, “Jeremy said HE had it first, but I really did! Honest!”

James is right, thought Robin, wearily, We really DO need a new hobby! Maybe skydiving. Or running with the bulls. Either would certainly be less stressful and less dangerous!

To lend some background to the above scenario, Robin was a horrible person. The worst of the worst. Worse even than the evil proverbial wicked stepmother in the Grimm’s fairy tales (although she was that, too.) She and her husband, James, were the type of people who were always plastered in the media – television shows and movies, books, newspaper and magazine articles – that made shivers run down peoples’ spines at the mere mention of what they did. More sinister than axe murderers, more malevolent than terrorists! They were FOSTER PARENTS! Yes, foster parents! They took in other people’s children in order to rake in big bucks from the state Department of Children and Families, and once they had the helpless miniature humans in their evil clutches, they abused them for their own deviant amusement, forced them into unpaid servitude, locked them in dark closets, starved them, and otherwise ignored and neglected them.

She took in a deep, sighing breath. Removing the fly swatter from Jenny’s hand, she set it on top of the refrigerator out of the children’s reach. Amid protests of “that’s not fair” and other objections, she attempted to explain to the three maligned urchins just why one didn’t play 3 with fly swatters. The reasons fell on deaf ears. Just then the phone rang. She answered it, placing one hand over her other ear in order to block out the arguing still going on in her midst.

“Mrs. Seville?” came a voice from the other end of the phone.

“Yes,” Robin struggled to hear over all the commotion. She gestured for the children to be quiet, but of course nobody paid any attention.

They had abandoned the squabble over the fly swatter and were now arguing over an old copy of “House and Garden” that one of the three children had found under the sofa. The dust covered magazine was being ripped apart in three different directions as each child angrily declared it to be “mine”. Actually, it was Robin’s, but it had been so long since she had had the time to sit down and leaf through a magazine, she figured all the decorating ideas were passé by now, anyway. Not that she ever tried any of the suggestions. Somehow in her hands, the desired effect was never quite achieved and simply looked retro tacky or Early American hideous. And the garden? Forget it. The only thriving green in her yard were the weeds. She was truly cursed with the ability to kill any living plant she got her hands on – weeds excepted. She cowered each time she entered the garden center, afraid that someone would recognize her as the plant murderer and throw her out. Of course, on the other hand, the garden center did make a lot of money off of her, as she steadfastly refused to give up purchasing more plants to slaughter with her black thumb, just knowing that this time they would thrive!

She attempted to walk into the other room, but the three little persecuted human beings followed after her, each trying to out yell the other in order to have his or her case heard.

“This is Beth Hampton with the Department of Children and Families. I’m the new case worker for Jeremy and Jenny. I am in the neighborhood and I need to stop by and see them.”

NOW? Robin groaned inwardly. The house was a mess. As in, worse than the customary mess it was usually in. As in somebody might alert the Health Department kind of mess. Laundry sat waiting to be folded on the coffee table. There were at least seven hundred toys that had migrated from the playroom into the living room, scattered in an obstacle course between the sofa and the television set. She had meant to clean up the dishes that still sat on the table from lunch, but forgot about when she received the news that the deadline for her column had to be moved up due to the holiday weekend. At least a dozen pairs of shoes littered the floor of the foyer, as well as backpacks that had been left where they were thrown, the contents of which were spilling out in their own jumble of disorganized clutter.

She smacked her hand to her forehead in a dramatic gesture and tried very hard not to say a bad word. Saying bad words in front of children was not only an un-Christian thing to do, but would likely be repeated at the worst possible moment. “Um, how long will it take you to get here?” she queried.

“Miss Robin,” interrupted Melody. “The dog pooped in the hall.”

“EEWWWW!” Jeremy and Jenny chimed in. “It stinks!”

Ellen FannonAbout the Author

Award winning author, Ellen Fannon, is a practicing veterinarian, former missionary, and church pianist/organist. She originated and wrote the Pet Peeves column for the Northwest Florida Daily News before taking a two-year assignment with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.

Her articles appear regularly in One Christian Voice and she has a story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Life Lessons From the Dog. In addition, she writes a weekly humor blog on her website https://ellenfannonauthor.com and online for the Northwest Florida Daily News https://nwfdailynews.com.

Her first novel, Other People's Children, the humorous account of the life of a foster parent, is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the trunk of her car.

Ellen and her husband have been foster parents for more than 40 children, and the adoptive parents of two sons. She lives in Valparaiso with her husband, son, and assorted pets.

Connect with Ellen Fannon

Website - EllenFannonAuthor.com

Blog at  The Northwest Florida Daily News, nwfdailynews.com

Other People's Children

Other People’s Children on Amazon

Lauren Crews, Strength of a Woman: Why You Are Proverbs 31


Strength of a Woman: Why You Are Proverbs 31

by Lauren Crews

Welcome, Lauren!

Congratulations on the upcoming release of this book and its companion devotional.

Amazon link

Tell us about it.

It is a Christian Woman's Lifestyle book for Christian women who are challenged by the Proverbs 31 passage or the value of their past. I believe women who enjoy word studies and our Jewish influence on Christianity will enjoy it.

Strength of A Woman will have you celebrating as you understand the blessing God sings over you as a woman. Look at the familiar Proverbs 31 Scripture passage and begin to understand the Jewish teachings and the true meaning of the passage. Through this study of the passage, you will:

  • Discover the hidden beauty in the imagery of the Hebrew alphabet through word study;
  • Understand the challenges you face now in comparison to those in biblical times;
  • Embrace God's purposes versus society's expectations; and
  • Enjoy insights into a strong woman's day-to-day life.

What are your thoughts about the Proverbs 31 woman?
She has been taught as the perfect example of biblical womanhood, and although we have much to learn from her, so many women see her as an unobtainable standard. How is a single woman, a widow or a divorced woman expected to measure up?

There are a lot of books about this chapter. How is your book different from other Proverbs 31 books?
Strength of a Woman looks at the Proverbs passage through the original Hebrew language. It is an acrostic poem of the Hebrew alphabet. Hebrew letters hold imagery and the images of each letter relates to the verse. Add to that word studies from the verses and we see interesting new insight. For example the passages has multiple references to warfare and the duties of the tabernacle priests. We begin to see the Proverbs woman shift from a homemaker to a warrior.

How will women relate to these women?
I’ve included the stories of twenty very unlikely Proverbs 31 women. If you meet them today you would see thriving Christian women, but each traveled through a dark and difficult time in their lives. Their stories reveal how they lived out the characteristic of each letter and its relation to the verse. They have truly become Proverbs 31 women.

What do you want readers to take away from this book?
I want them to redefine the predefined consequences and stigmas society, and sometimes even the church, puts on women who face hard things in life. Christ alone is the author of our stories and He is the true strength of a woman.

Do you have a personal favorite Proverbs 31 verse?
Am I allowed to have more than one? I really like Proverbs 31:31, “Give her the reward of her labor, and let her works praise her at the city gate.” It relates to the Hebrew letter Tav which represents a mark or a sign. I’d like my legacy, or my mark on life, to be one that reflects how I have partnered with Christ and drew from His strength through all seasons and struggles. I want people to remember how much I valued God’s word and my relationship with Him. That would be high praise indeed.


Your Heroic Hymn

I need to be honest with you from the start. From what I first learned about the Proverbs 31 Woman, I hated her. History portrayed her as a virtuous flower and upheld her as a glowing example of biblical womanhood. I saw her as a standard.

I’m not wealthy, I don’t know how to weave fabric, and I’m not a stay-at-home mom. Some days I’m so busy the best I can do for dinner is the drive-through. And, honestly, sometimes it’s hard to honor my husband. When you add to that the challenges other women face in divorce, as a single parent, or as a widow, or the guilt and rejection some women feel if they cannot conceive, how can we not walk away from the passage feeling judged? She is everywhere. But I. just. can’t. do. it.

I took a Facebook survey of my friends and contacts asking, “What is your first thought when you hear Proverbs 31 mentioned?” Some women replied, “A godly example like my grandmother,” or, “Something to strive for.” However, the typical response was, “Too much, a lot to achieve.” The overwhelming response was, “Unobtainable, I try but fail often”—and they felt bad for failing.

Once upon a time I too related to the Proverbs 31 Woman in this way, but I’ve changed my mind.

Would it surprise you to know the verses of Proverbs 31:10–31 have a military theme and emphasize strength? Throughout the passage, the verses make references to military activities and the spoils of war. Historically this passage is read as a heroic hymn. In The Song of a Valiant Woman, author Al Wolters says this type of literature is found in many cultures and is “characterized by the recounting of the mighty deeds of heroes, usually the military exploits of noble warriors.” Many examples of heroic hymns can be found throughout the Bible. Proverbs 31 also contains references to the work of Old Testament priests, a second theme, developed through references to the material of the priestly garments and the Tabernacle. These themes are very different from the traditional homemaker and housewife I thought she represented.

I love the Word of God. The more I study it, the more I realize how much I don’t know. But I’ve studied and learned the Bible through the English language and through the eyes of a modern, Western understanding. When we read the Bible today, we don’t necessarily know how the original reader understood the lessons taught. We read with twenty-first century eyes. When translating, we must consider the original audience and the nuances of their language and culture. This is called hermeneutics, and it is crucial for accurate interpretation.

Yet most of us don’t have a confident understanding of a foreign language like Hebrew or Greek. We aren’t familiar with the figurative language, the idioms, wordplay, and puns of those languages. We just do not “get it” like the native speakers do, and, as a result, some of the meaning gets lost in translation.

When a friend mentioned Proverbs 31:10–31 is an acrostic poem written with the Hebrew alphabet, it stirred my word-nerd juices. I had to investigate. Hebrew is a verbal language, which means it is best understood through speaking. It was common in the Jewish culture to memorize the Torah, so much so a Rabbi might mention the first few words of a passage and his disciples would be able to fully recite the rest. When we are aware of this practice and how the people of biblical times did not have the access we do to scrolls or books of the Old Testament, it is easy to see why emphasis was placed on memorization and recitation.

Acrostic poems are commonly used in the Old Testament to aid the reader in memorization. Today, we also use them to help us remember information. You may have memorized the following acrostic in school to help you remember the planets.

My             M for Mercury

Very           V for Venus

Educated    E for Earth

Mother       M for Mars

Just             J for Jupiter

Served        S for Saturn

Us               U for Uranus

Nothing      N for Neptune

If you’re old school, like me, the acrostic ended with Nine Pizzas, but apparently Pluto isn’t considered a planet anymore. Poor Pluto.

Like this acrostic, the Hebrew alphabet letters begin each verse of Proverbs 31:10–31 to trigger a reminder for the reader to help with memorization. I became curious how the letters might relate to the verses, and I discovered some amazing lessons we can all apply to our lives as women.

First, did you know our alphabet developed from the Phoenician and Hebrew alphabet? Our written letters began as pictures and symbols that held meaning—think cave drawings. They, in turn, developed into the letters and meanings we use today.

In Hebrew, each letter not only represents a sound but also has a picture to illustrate it. The pictograph relates to a fundamental meaning linked to the letter. As the Hebrew language developed, the word pictures for the letters were combined to form words, which included the original pictorial meaning of each letter. For example, the Hebrew word for father is ab or abba. The Hebrew letters to spell this word are א (alef) and ד (bet). The word picture that represents alef is an ox, with a fundamental symbolism of first (i.e., the first letter) and strong (i.e., “strong as an ox”). Bet’s word picture, on the other hand, is a house, so when you combine the word picture imagery for ab, you can see that father means the first strength of the house.

Hebrew letters also represent numeric values. Alef through yud represents numbers one through ten. Kaf through ayin are twenty through ninety, counting by by ten. Qof through tav are one hundred through nine hundred, counting by hundreds. Sometimes knowing the numeric value of the letter will add some insight, like what we just saw in the word pictures for ab. Because the word picture meaning, or number value, was to aid in memorization, there is often a link between it and the verse of Proverbs 31.

The intent of observing the relationship to a number or word picture is not to discover a secret Bible code in the acrostic poem. The process is used only as an observational tool to better understand the context and reasoning behind the word choice to aid in memorization. As a poem, we look at the entire passage, not just a single verse. This is important, as is acknowledging the figurative language and extended metaphors.

We can best understand the Proverbs 31 passage as a Hebrew proverb and poetic writing, which offers general life principles, not absolutes. In the Book of Proverbs, wisdom is frequently personified as Lady Wisdom. Throughout the poem of Proverbs 31:10–31, the author provides examples of wisdom in action, which are revealed from A to Z, or in Hebrew, from alef to tav. The idiom “from A to Z” describes something that has been analyzed deeply to cover all aspects of the topic. Proverbs 31 therefore provides the actions of this woman, so we can learn wisdom from her, from A to Z.

God holds women and the work of women in high regard. The fact God included a heroic poem about the various aspects of a woman’s life can be received with encouragement. Women, wives, and mothers are on the front lines and are vital when it comes to nurturing the next generation of His family, the future generation of believers. My hope is that you can lay aside any hindrances you have in embracing the life of the Proverbs 31 Woman and be strengthened and encouraged from Hebraic insight that celebrates your worth, value, and strength as a woman.

Every chapter in this book aims to provide you with some background knowledge about each of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet and explores how the word picture relates to the verse so we might glean the Hebrew insights that add a richer layer of understanding to the writing. Sometimes the meanings and pictographs will offer a word play we would otherwise miss. Other times they will provide a deeper definition of a word, verse, or theme. I’ve also included the stories of uncommon Proverbs 31 Women. My prayer is that their stories will inspire you to know the source of their strength and fall more in love with Jesus Christ and the grace He alone offers.

Finally, let’s discover how the word pictures of Proverbs 31 relate to women today, in all our roles of life, and how we can respond. I firmly believe these verses apply to all women in a much deeper way than just as an unattainable to-do list or a list of how to be the perfect wife. How does it apply to a divorced woman, the widow, the single mom? I offer to you that after reading this book, you will not walk away from this passage with a feeling of defeat because we fall short of this perceived representation but will walk away with encouragement and pride. I’m eager for you to discover God’s song of your heroism.

I’ll join you with the first letter, alef, from Proverbs 31:10.


Pause and Reflect—Discussion Questions

  1. Before this study, what were your initial thoughts on the verses of Proverbs 31:10–31?
  2. What would you like to learn about the Proverbs 31 Woman passage?
  3. What you know of the Proverbs 31 Woman might not apply to your present life, and you might feel as though you are already starting with a loss counted against you. Romans 8:1 tell us, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Strong woman, are you willing to have an open mind and consider the next layer, a deeper understanding? How can God’s voice of truth encourage you through Proverbs 31?

** Excerpt from  Strength of a Woman: Why You Are Proverbs 31, Lauren Crews. Copyright (c) 2020 by Lauren Crews. Published by Ascender Books. Used with permission.   

The companion devotional is a 31-day journey through a familiar passage and enjoy the power and dignity that God offers in His words over you. 
As women we carry not only our own incredible loads and challenges but those of our loved ones as well. We are the ones who are expected to hold it all together. Sometimes shame and doubt take root, and we can loose sight of God’s plan for us. But we are women. Women Scripture says are warriors and leaders. The poem known as Proverbs 31 details how we can yoke ourselves to Christ so we do not carry our burdens alone. Our legacy is not defined by the world. Your legacy is defined by God and is held deep within this familiar heroic hymn that God sings over you.
Based on the imagery of the Hebrew alphabet, these daily devotions will help you celebrate your God-given strength in the midst of a crazy, mixed up life. Enjoy the power and dignity within God’s words over you!

About the Author

Lauren Crews is an award-winning author and holds an MDiv from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. With twenty years’ experience in women’s ministry, she dives deep into God’s word and is eager to share the many layers with women in all roles of life. She resides in Jacksonville, FL with her husband and two brown labs who have their humans well trained.

Ways to connect with Lauren purchase her books

Website LaurenCrews.com

Ironstream Media

Instagram @LaurenCrewsA2Z

FB: Lauren Monico-Crews

Amazon link

Amazon link for devotional