Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Call of Zulina, by Kay Marshall Strom

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.

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ISBN: 1426700695
ISBN-13: 9781426700699
Format: Paperback
Abingdon Press
Pub. Date: August 2009
Retail: $13.99

About the Book:

(Eugene, Oregon) – 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.

Written by Kay Marshall Strom, 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.

Blog Tour Interview:

1. How did you come up with the storyline of The Call of Zulina?
While in West Africa working on another project, I toured an old slave fortress and was struck dumb by a set of baby manacles bolted to the wall. The characters of Lingongo and Joseph Winslow, Grace's parents, are modeled after real people who ran a slave business in Africa in the 1700s. I "met" them when I was researching Once Blind: The Life of John Newton, a biography of the slaver turned preacher and abolitionists, author of Amazing Grace. The more I thought about them, the more I wondered, "If they'd had a daughter, who would she be? Where would her loyalties lie?"

2. What inspired you to write a book so entrenched with uncomfortable issues?
I used to think that non-fiction was the meat and potatoes of writing and fiction was the chocolate mousse dessert... fun, but not of much value. But I've come to understand that truths can be revealed through fiction just as powerfully as through non-fiction. Sometimes, more so! The fact is, for so long we have tried to look away and pretend that this horrible chapter in history never happened. But it did, and we still feel the effects today. Moreover, the roots of slavery--hunger for power and money, fear and diminishment of people unlike ourselves, and humanity's endless ability to rationalize evil actions--abound today. The time seemed right.

3. How have your travels around the world equipped you for writing such a historical novel?
People ask me where my passion for issues such as modern day slavery come from. To a large degree it is from the things I have seen and heard on my numerous trips to India, African countries, Cambodia, Nepal, Indonesia, and other places around the world.

4. Tell us a personal story regarding modern day slavery.
A most pervasive type of slavery is what is known as bonded servitude, where entire poor families are bound into virtual slavery--sometimes for generations--because of a small debt. This is especially common in India. I visited a village in central India where the women had been freed from bondage and set up with a micro loan that allowed them to raise a small herd of dairy cows. They worked so hard and saved every rupee. When they had enough saved, they persuaded a young teacher to come and start a school for their children. Then they used further profits to make low interest loans to others in the area so they could start their own businesses, too--a little bank. I sat in a circle with the five women who made up the "board of directors." Only one could read and write. I asked, "How will the next generation be different because of what you have done?" They said, "No more will be like us. When people look us, they see nothing. But when they look at our children, they see real human beings with value."

From invisible slaves to human beings... all in one generation!

5. Grace, the lead character in The Call of Zulina, forsakes all to escape the slavery of her parents and an arranged marriage.How common is this scenerio today in other countries?
Horrifyingly common. Slavery today takes many forms. According to UNICEF's more conservative count, there are about 12 million people living as slaves today--three times as many as in the days of the African slave trade. As for child arranged marriages, I have talked to girls "enslaved" to husbands in many countries. Examples include a girl in Nepal married at 9 to a middle-aged man, one in India married at 11, a 13-year-old in Egypt married to a man older than her father. I've seen it in Africa, Eastern Europe... so many places!

6. What about in America, are there slavery and trafficking issues here?
Unfortunately, there are. The U.S. State Department estimates between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the Untied States each year, although it concedes that the real number is actually far higher. And it's not just states like New York and California that are affected, either. According to the U.S. Justice Department's head of the new human trafficking unit, there is now at least one case of trafficking in every state.

7. You've had 36 books published, and more written and contracted for future release. How has this one impacted your own life?
Some books report, some tell stories. This book has torn my heart.

8. Briefly tell us about the next two books in this Grace in Africa trilogy.
In Book 2, Grace watches her reconstructed life smashed by slavers and revenge, and she is forcibly taken to London. There she faces a new kind of tyranny and another fight for freedom... and for her husband, who is enslaved in America.

Book 3 is set in the new United States of America, in the heart of the slavery. It is a story of slavery at it's worst and redemption at its best.

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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 http://www.fairtrade.net/ .

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.

Grand Prize Giveaway!!!
Kay Marshall Strom is giving the following books to one fortunate commenter from The Call of Zulina blog tour. The prize package includes several of Kay's books:

  • Seeking Christ: A Christian Woman's Guide to Personal Wholeness & Spiritual Maturity

  • John Newton:The Angry Sailor

  • Making Friends with Your Mother

  • Making Friends with Your Father

*Mandatory Entry*: Leave a comment telling us which book you are most interested in reading.

Extra Entries:

  • Tweet this giveaway and leave a comment with a link to the tweet. This can be done once each day.

  • Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know your Twitter user name.

  • Subscribe to 3Stairs and leave a comment letting me know if you subscribed with RSS or via e-mail.
    By RSS:


  • Blog about this giveaway and leave a comment with a link to your post.

  • Add a 3Stairs button to your blog and leave a comment with a link to your blog so we can visit!


I'll let Random.org choose a winner on the morning of Monday, November 2, so get your entries in by 11:59 pm on Tuesday, November 1.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Free Resources from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council would like to share some more information with readers. Did you know that there are free resources available to help you make safe choices about car seats and to help you use your car seats properly for maximum safety? Check it out!

- Twitter: An actual safety expert mans the @ChildSeatSafety account on Twitter, and they will continue to answer any questions that parents have about child passenger safety. This is such a unique resource from a government agency!

- Facebook: NHTSA has a Facebook page at http://facebook.com/childpassengersafety where parents can learn about everything from LATCH to locating inspection offices.

- Website: The Ad Council and the NHTSA have created a site with all the resources parents need to keep their smallest passengers safe: http://childcarsafety.adcouncil.org/ Find your local inspection station, watch instructional videos, and even take a fun quiz!

Be sure to check out these great resources to keep your babies safe!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This Week's Twitter Blatherings

  • feeling brokenhearted over two mothers dying - one by murder, one by car accident... #fb #

  • to bed with my tired self; store run first thing in morning... #fb #

  • just got off phone with Operation Christmas Child; exciting possibilities in store... #fb #

  • doing some writing for @KidGlue #fb #

  • great fun for word geeks - gleeful clean naughtiness: via @addthis #

  • animals having a heyday in my attic = annoying as all get-out #fb #

  • on today's agenda: pay bills, write for @KidGlue.com, see local dentist about Operation Christmas Child donations #fb #

  • The Stink - it is strong with this one #dirtydiapers #

  • time for my favorite pastime - a nap with bethy! #fb #

  • napping - it's a good thing #fb #

  • bills paid; groceries and children got; still have to write; didn't get to dentist today - must go tomorrow, after i go to the dr #fb #

  • getting ready to crochet while i watch some wheel of fortune #relaxing #fb #

  • ok, wheel of fortune and dwts; aaron's tango - hhhhaaah!!! oyyyy... #fb #

  • thinking i'm going to listen to some tango music on last.fm while i write tonight... #fb #

  • one medium sweet peach tea from sonic, delivered, please #thatisall #fb #

  • BAM! that's how it's done, ya'll. i love it when i site down and pound out a great post in no time... #

  • somebody go win this and give it to me - pretty please?? DVD Giveaway: Peanuts 1970s Collection Vol. 1 @RealTVAddict #

  • seeing a lot of ppl that i know personally in fb suggest list that *were* fb friends that have apparently unfriended me... #fb #

  • wow, ppl that have met me in person don't want to be friends on fb; guess i'm only likable if you haven't actually met me... #fb #

  • shower and bed soon, i think; if crochet doesn't distract me... #fb #

  • Working on donations for Operation Christmas Child #

  • God is so totally, awesomely cool! #fb #

  • why are children the most annoying and obnoxious when your head hurts? #fb #

  • and now to rant for @KidGlue.com... #fb #

  • just got totally taken on a video i thought i was going to laugh at; i *hate* hallow-freakin-een... #fb #

  • meds taken + soapbox written + Operation Christmas Child MOPS meeting in the morning = i'm going to bed... #fb #

  • enjoyed MOPS; now tired - taking nap with bethy asap... #fb #

  • took a nap this afternoon, but i still just want to sleep - probably the rain... #fb #

  • hittin' the hay... #fb #

  • awoken at 4am by a skunk apparently under the house; now going back to bed for a couple of hours while bethy's at playschool... #fb #

  • went off on ppl scaring ppl for fun at @KidGlue; watch for the link later today... #

  • rant about scaring children for fun at @KidGlue, as promised: #

  • 7yo sarah fell on concrete at school this afternoon & scraped her right knee pretty badly; prayers appreciated; poor girl hurts... :( #fb #

  • going shopping tomorrow for my church's Operation Christmas Child project; pray that God will lead us to what He wants us to get #fb #

  • Been shopping 4 Operation Christmas Child w/ my best friend; Best. Day. Ever. #fb #

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

This Week's Twitter Blatherings

  • win a shaper that makes u look like u lost 15 lbs @alotofnothing if i wear 2, is it like i lost 30 lbs? #

  • hey, how'd it get to be 3.30 already??? oy... #fb #

  • putting together post ideas for @KidGlue... #fb #

  • halloween trivia: how old is the holiday? #

  • one @KidGlue post completed, another half done; a nap will ensue... #fb #

  • brandon throwing up - joy of my soul... #

  • beading while bethy watches pooh #fb #

  • dang, i've got a crick in my neck; 5.5 hours on the phone will do that to a person... #

  • what am i doing? i dunno... #fb #

  • Enter to WIN $25 Box of wonderful Hair accessories from @CoverYourHair & @NetWorkingWitches Ends 10/26/09 #

  • getting ready to go to parent-teacher conferences and go get a few groceries #

  • Brandon and Sarah both got straight A's this six weeks! #fb #

  • is it bedtime yet? #fb #

  • heading to bed soon... #

  • RT @WCatDD Win the new Jack LaLanne Power Juicer Express! Drink freshly made juice daily. #

  • it's a perfect rainy day for library day #fb #

  • tired, head hurts, blah #fb #

  • cutting apart multiplication facts flash cards that i printed out for brandon #fb #

  • time to watch catch me if you can with my man #fb #

  • wondering why i was born and when it will be over #fb #

  • benadryl i took in the middle of the night has still got me zombiefied #fb #

  • departing Dropoffton; next stop: Snoozeville #fb #

  • planning to write tomorrow's soapbox for @KidGlue and finishing up a post about the history of halloween #

  • going to pick up sarah from school - she has lice #fb #

  • got brandon, too; i'm guessing bethy's got them, too; oh joy of my soul... #fb #

  • it's a lice yahtzee! #fb #

  • brandon's hair buzzed to 1/2" and oiled; @marcand's head shaved; sarah's head oiled; 3 down, 2 to go... #fb #

  • I just entered the #littlemermaidcontest to win The Little Mermaid on DVD. (Follow @ContestBee and RT to enter) #

  • kids all staying home tomorrow to continue treatment; prayers greatly appreciated #fb #

  • time to attempt sleep... #fb #

  • pretty sure brandon is clean; sarah appears to be; bethy and i will probably need another treatment #fb #

  • lunching; wish i was napping... #fb #

  • i need someone to bring me chocolate - pie, cake, kit kat, pb cups, peppermint patties, sixlets - take your pick #thatisall #fb #

  • never mind, there's not enough chocolate in the world; just kill me already and get it over with... #fb #

  • *so* want to go to bed right now... #fb #

  • time for mama to hit the hay... #fb #

  • brandon and sarah cleared by nurses and in school - huzzah! came home to warm oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins #ilovemyman #fb #

  • checking out brizzly thanks to invite from @marcand; really liking what i'm seeing... #

  • sleep when the baby sleeps, right? bethy passed out, so i'm going to, too! #fb #

  • well, that didn't work - she woke up... *sigh* #fb #

  • Dear @marcand,
    You put the rrrrrrr in my rawr. That is all.
    #ilovemyman #fb #

  • RT @WCatDD VeggieTales – Saint Nicholas: A Story Of Joyful Giving Giveaway | What's Cooking @ DD #

  • Remember when i said i hate school buses? yeah, i still do #

  • food. must have. #fb #

  • dinner: biscuits, butter, and apple butter; yes, Toni, i'm thinking of you, lol! #carbfest #fb #

  • i think God may have just told me what my ministry is, which is thrilling and exciting! now praying for confirmation and wisdom #fb #

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Whispering Sweet Everythings

[caption id="attachment_3107" align="alignleft" width="226" caption="The power of a simple gift."]



To start at the beginning, I went to a women's convention three weeks ago. Our armbands said, "A Ministry for Every Woman" on them and it was mentioned to find the ministry God has for you. I determined not to take my armband off until God told me what He wants me to do or it came off by itself.

I've been a bit fanatic about Operation Christmas Child for several years and tonight as I watched the promotional videos to pick one to show at church, I felt a little whisper in my heart. I could picture myself going around speaking about it and even flying overseas to deliver boxes.

See, I've wanted to be a speaker for a while now. I just never could figure out what I was supposed to say. And as for flying - I'm terrified of it. The thought of getting on a plane paralyzes me and makes my breath and my heart catch in my throat. But tonight as I watched the videos, I thought with excitement and anticipation how much I'd love to be right there watching children open their boxes. The thought of flying didn't scare me - I was excited! That in itself seems to be a pretty big indicator to me.

As exciting and thrilling as all of it seems, though, I'm not taking my armband off yet. I'm an emotional person and I don't want to mistake my own emotions and ambitions for God's will. So, I'm going to pray and wait for confirmation.

In the stillness of quiet, in the hustle of noise, I want to hear my Bridegroom whisper His sweet everythings to my heart and know what the journey He's mapped out for us together will be.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Oh, yeah, it's Friday... Fill-in

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1. So are we going to get happy with the chocolate or not?

2. Hopefully an ASL class is what's up ahead.

3. I love to hold and love on babies.

4. There is a system in place here - of some sort.

5. I walk a wiggly-wobbly, wacky, wonky, wild kind of line that involves singing and dancing and laughing.

6. The adoration of a child is the true elixir of life!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to blessed sleep, tomorrow my plans include church and a nap and Sunday, I want to have the energy to put up all the clean laundry!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

This Week's Twitter Blatherings

  • RT@myweeview Giveaway - One With Nature gift pack - ENDS 10/09 #

  • absolutely touched by the amount of pink i'm seeing in the NFL today #

  • headache returned - and i have to go to the store... ugh #fb #

  • listening to Bethy giggle and play peepeye with @marcand #happy #fb #

  • new @ My Book Bliss: Book Review: Intimate Conversations by Alicia Britt Chole: Press Relea.. #

  • mummy's tired; i'm going to bed... #fb #

  • still tired, and trying to gear up to do paperwork - blech #fb #

  • man, i love having a heater at my feet! #

  • feeling crappy again today; gotta learn to rest until it's gone instead of pushing too hard when i have an upswing #fb #

  • barely ate lunch - too tired and focused on ministering to some dear friends; please pray for A, K, and K; and now to nap... #fb #

  • trying to scrape a chunk of chicken into the container; realized i was seeing my finger through the glass bowl #yourbrainonsick #

  • i should not have opened the bag of individually-wrapped sixlets packets... #

  • this heartburn is kicking my butt tonight... #fb #

  • Mama's gettin' home-grown sweet taters from a guy i went to high school with - i love Southern small towns! #fb #

  • sixlets are going to be my undoing... #

  • tweaked the bio snippet at ; did i leave anything out? #

  • i love conspiring - it's so much fun! #

  • theraflu and bed, i think; or maybe just bed... #fb #

  • RT @myweeview #Giveaway - $25 Gift Certificate to Fancy Pants by Jamee ENDS 10/16 #

  • going to get groceries so i can take a nap with bethy today #fb #

  • great forensics show, and funny! RT @tweetmeme DVD Giveaway: Bones – Complete Fourth Season | Real TV Addict #

  • nap time, i think... #fb #

  • hoping the guys bulldozing the brush along the side of the road leave the fence in tact; and that i can sleep through all the ruckus... #fb #

  • yeah, well, that's a freakin' bust... #fb #

  • i want to go to a salon and just have somebody else wash and comb my hair #fb #

  • thinking of watching merlin... #

  • on to 202... #

  • ok, begging off ep 3; hugely long day tomorrow and i need a shower... #

  • oh, yeah, i was going to bed, wasn't i? #fb #

  • thoroughly enjoyed MOPS this morning; now on to a detox massage... #fb #

  • massage felt wonderful, but now the toxins coming out are knocking me out... #fb #

  • finishing up this week's soapbox for @KidGlue #

  • that's done... next? #

  • oh, yeah - review of Harry Connick, Jr.'s latest album Your Songs... #

  • bed time for mummy... #fb #

  • new @ My Book Bliss: When God Turned Off the Lights, by Cecil Murphey: Is it possible that .. #

  • please pray for brandon (9) and bethy (3) - home w/ upset stomach (no fever, PTL); bethy is particularly miserable - THX! #fb #

  • brandon is fine; bethy is miserable; mum is exhausted, despite napping with bethy; please continue prayers; thanks #fb #

  • this just came to me: When you're at the end of your rope, give it to Jesus and let Him make you a hammock! #fb #

  • bethy sleeping; mama copycatting post haste... #fb #

  • Watching principal & art teacher walking kids to building from cars w/ umbrellas #everydayheroes #fb #

  • bethy has kept everything down today - huzzah! and now to attempt to convince her to take a nap... #fb #

  • getting ready to go have some stamping fun with my girls! #fb #

  • had a blast with my stampin' girls - we bleached cards - fun! now it's time for this exhausted mama to make her way to bed... #fb #

  • heater under desk died; going to store... #fb #

  • cold weather = lots of baking! #fb #

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Album Review: Your Songs by Harry Connick, Jr.

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I've been a fan of Harry Connick, Jr. since I watched When Harry Met Sally over a decade ago. I'm a swing/big band lover anyway, and Harry's smooth voice is perfect for the genre. So, naturally, I was ecstatic to get the opportunity to review his latest album, Your Songs. It's a tribute/cover album of the hits of real oldie favorites like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Nat King Cole and newer classics like Elvis, The Beatles, Billy Joel, and Elton John.

As the first song, All the Way, began, my eyes fluttered close and a sigh escaped. It's quintessential Harry. It took me back to the days of blissfully listening to the When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle soundtracks. This sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack for one of those great romantic comedies like My Best Friend's Wedding. I can just see the scene with dancing at a big party or wedding and the girl that wouldn't let herself fall in love finally giving in and letting the guy love her "all the way." Classic and perfect.

Just the Way You Are gets a cover that's more lush than the original, which gives it a slightly piano bar feel to it, but it's nice. This is great date night in front of the fire music.

I Can't Help Falling In Love With You continues the fireside music with a nice rendition of the lovers' favorite. The trumpet bridge is musically well-executed, but feels like an interruption to me nonetheless.

And I Love Her makes me want to start a tango from the first bar. It's sensual, smooth, rhythmic, and probably one of my top two song picks on the album. Fabulous.

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(They Long To Be) Close To You is a great song anyway, and Harry keeps it that way. I can just see that dreamy smile of his as he does a little soft-shoe song and dance on a sidewalk in front of a row of brownstones in the fall. Lovely. The trumpet on this one feels perfect.

Besame Mucho shows that the boy from N'awlins can swing the Italian. There's just one word for this song: RAWR.

The Way You Look Tonight has just gotten better since Harry's first incantation in When Harry Met Sally.  Another fun, fantastic, romantic song that I could listen (and sing along) to over and over.

I can just sense Harry singing First Time Ever I Saw Your Face to his wife. It's got that intimate, quiet feel to it that makes you long for love. Beautiful.

Your Song is another great lush rendition of a favorite. Harry keeps is fairly true to the original but artfully adds his own touch. This is a nice, sway-along tune.

Some Enchanted Evening takes us back to the ballroom and the rich, smooth vocal moves that bring my eyelids down and the corners of my mouth up. Thoroughly enjoyable.

And I Love You So is another fireside/slow dance song that highlights Harry's talent for intimate love songs. Dang, his wife is one lucky woman. Can you imagine getting to have him sing in your ear as you dance? *swoon*

Who Can I Turn To? continues the leisure dance atmosphere with a nice, smooth trumpet bridge. Harry's light jazz piano talents come out on this one, if you listen.

Smile brings Tom Hanks in a romantic comedy to mind. Another lush, wonderful piece. Harry's arrangement of Charlie Chaplin's song is "movey" while keeping that slight melancholy to it. Don't ask me how he does it - he just does, and it works.

Mona Lisa is a great topper to the album, finishing it off with the same sigh-inducing stylings of All the Way. Smooth, rich, and wonderful - just like Harry.

If you like swing/big band, romantic comedies, light jazz, or piano bar music, get your hands on Harry Connick, Jr.'s Your Songs as soon as possible.

*This is solely the opinion of 3 Stairs. Other people may have different experiences with this product. I received the album free of charge to do this review. *

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

When God Turned Off the Lights, by Cecil Murphey

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Is it possible that God would use a time of spiritual loneliness and isolation in our life as an answer to our prayer for "something more?" That's what happened with best-selling author Cecil Murphey. In When God Turned Off the Lights (Regal, September 2009), he openly shares from his journey that seemed to be stalled in darkness.

Murphey decided to write about his months of seeking God in the darkness because he suspected his situation wasn't unique. "If this happened to me, a rather ordinary believer, surely there are others out there who have wept in the isolated blackness of night and wondered if they would ever see God's smile again."

Murphey could have handled this topic as a theologian and given pages of heavy, hard-to-read advice, but he chose to write from his heart and expose it for the readers to see. He talks honestly and shares his skepticism and frustration. He asks hard questions. And he lays out the steps of healing that brought him back to the light.

When God Turned Off the Lights is a book for those of us who ask, "What's wrong with me? Why are others living in the sunlight while nothing but dark clouds and darkness envelop me?" Readers will learn:

  • Why God turns off the lights

  • Why we have to have dark nights

  • Why asking "why" isn't the right question

  • What's worse than going through the darkness

  • How to feel worthwhile and accepted by God

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Each chapter of When God Turned Off the Lights ends with an inspirational personal quote from Cec. Here's a sampling:

Although it may seem as if God is asleep when we go through deep darkness, could it be that God is most watchful in the moments of our despair?

Could it be that moving from why to what might take us one more step closer to the light?

Our task is to hang on. We wait until God takes us off hold and deals directly with us again.

God's provision is based on unconditional love - not on my faithfulness.

[caption id="attachment_3061" align="alignright" width="213" caption="When God Turned Off the Lights Author Cec Murphey"]



About the Author:

Award-winning writer Cecil Murphey is the author or co-author of more than 100 books, including the "New York Times" bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). He's also the author of When Someone You Love Has Cancer and Christmas Miracles, both 2009 releases. Murphey's books have sold millions and have brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.

What to Do
When the Lights Go Out

by Cec Murphey

If you sincerely desire to follow Jesus Christ, life won't always be easy. Many times the Bible promises victory, and you may need to remind yourself that there can be no victory without struggling and overcoming obstacles.

In my book, I used the image of God turning out the lights because that was how I perceived the situation. I felt as if I walked in darkness for 18 months. We all interact differently with God, and my experience won't be the same as yours. Even so, most serious Christians have times when God seems to turn away or stops listening. And we feel alone.

Perhaps it's like the time the Israelites cried out to God for many years because of the Egyptian oppression. "God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise...and knew it was time to act" (Exodus 2:24 NLT). God hadn't forgotten, of course, but from their perspective, that's how it must have seemed. It may seem like that to you if you're going through your own form of darkness.

Here are a few suggestions to help you:

1. Ask God this simple question: "Have I knocked out the lights by my failures? Have I sinned against you? After you ask the question, listen. Give God the opportunity to speak to you.

2. Don't see this as divine punishment (unless God shows you it is), but consider the silence an act of divine love to move you forward. This is God's method to teach you and stretch you.

3. Avoid asking why. You don't need reasons and explanations--and you probably won't get them anyway. Instead, remind yourself that this temporary darkness is to prepare you for greater light.

4. Say as little as possible to your friends. Most friends will want to "fix" you or heal you and they can't. They may offer advice (often not helpful) or make you feel worse ("Are you sure everything is right between you and God?").

5. Stay with the "means of grace." That is, don't neglect worship with other believers even if you feel empty. Read your Bible even if you can't find anything meaningful.

I chose to read Lamentations and Psalms (several times, especially Lamentations) because they expressed some of the pain and despair I felt.

6. If you don't have a daily prayer time, start one. Perhaps something as short as three minutes--and do it daily. Talk honestly to God. It's all right to get angry. (Read the Psalms if you're hesitant.)

7. Remind yourself, "I am in God's hands. This is where I belong and I'll stay in the blackout until I'm ready to move forward."

8. Pray these words daily: "But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults" (Psalm 19:12 TNIV). Some versions say "secret sins." These are failures and sins of which you may not yet be aware. One of the purposes of your darkness may be to bring those hidden problems to light.

9. Ask God, "What do you want me to learn from this experience?" You may not get an answer, but it's still a good question. Continue to ask--even after the lights go back on again. If you're open, you will learn more about yourself and also about God.

10. As you receive "light" about yourself while walking in darkness, remind yourself, God has always known and still loves me.

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***Prize Alert!***

One commenter will be entered to win the When God Turns Off the Lights Blog Tour Gift Basket on October 22!

Gift Basket Includes:
When God Turned Off the Lights
1 Book Light
1 LED Nightlight
1 LED Flashlight
Select Dark Chocolate

*Mandatory Entry*: Leave a comment telling us how the lights are turned off in your life right now so we can pray for each other!

Extra Entries:

  • Tweet this giveaway and leave a comment with a link to the tweet. This can be done once each day.
    RT @3Stairs: Win a gift basket with light, chocolate,
    and Cecil Murphey's latest book! http://bit.ly/X6ZSa

  • Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know your Twitter user name.

  • Subscribe to 3Stairs and leave a comment letting me know if you subscribed with RSS or via e-mail.
    By RSS:


  • Blog about this giveaway and leave a comment with a link to your post.

  • Add a 3Stairs button to your blog and leave a comment with a link to your blog so we can visit!


I'll let Random.org choose an entrant on October 21, so get your entries in by 11:59 pm on October 20!


Sunday, October 4, 2009

This Week's Twitter Blatherings

  • had a great time, but came home sick; passed out at 6, woke at 10, drinking theraflu and planning on going back to bed soon #fb #

  • back to bed... #fb #

  • still feel blah - gonna take a nap with bethy today #fb #

  • nap - check; feel better - nope; i am a person, not the crap i feel like; i am a person, not the crap i feel like; i am a person... #fb #

  • RT: Enter to Win $50 in Hair Goodies from Cover Your Hair @coveryourhair @suburbanjung #

  • i feel like CRAP!!! #

  • Teh Awesome: RT @tweetmeme Arkansas Football Player Offers Heartfelt Gesture During Play | KidGlue #

  • drinking theraflu and getting ready to collapse in bed now that @marcand is done with work for a bit #ilovemyman #fb #

  • ...and back to bed after another round of theraflu... #fb #

  • chowing down on fruit this morning hoping to fight off this junk with vitamins and antioxidants #

  • just finished off two pounds of fruit; how's that for a vitamin c butt-kick to the sick? #fb #

  • sweet sue's chicken and dumplings for lunch #fb #

  • ugh. bed now? #

  • OW #thatisall #fb #

  • theraflu down; i am soon to follow #fb #

  • Who's going to do The Husband Project with me? #

  • all the sleep wore off; now i'm feeling like utter crap again... #fb #

  • taking theraflu and getting ready for bed... #fb #

  • turning pink for october #fb #

  • nap time for mom and bethy! #fb #

  • >> good piece: RT @skynewsblogs Quiet Heroism Of Everyday Parenting #

  • went to Tyler and got the *complete* StoryKeepers video set for free and bought a bunch of stuff for Operation Christmas Child boxes #fb #

  • scouring for backgrounds that will look good on our pitiful projector (no red); anybody have a church projector to donate? #

  • RT @astheygrowup As They Grow Up: CoverYourHair Review & Giveaway #

  • oy, tummy gross - i overdid the sweets... #

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As They Grow Up, Cover Your Hair...


...it's so much more convenient that way. Trust me, I know. Since I started wrapping my hair, it's lovely. I don't have to worry about if my hair is clean or brushed or how it looks in the morning when I take the kids to school. I just throw on a wrap and I'm good to go! An extra perk? No hair flying in my face (or eyes - ouch!) from the open car windows. It's a win on so many levels, I lost count of the wins!

As They Grow Up is giving away a free item from CoverYourHair.com - Mama wants just about all of it! For this particular giveaway, I'm hoping to win the Olive Paisley Tichel.

What are you hoping to win?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Book Review: Intimate Conversations by Alicia Britt Chole

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Press Release:

Relief for Busy Women and Moms To Draw Closer to God — During All of Life’s Busy Moments

Author Alicia Britt Chole shows women how to rejuvenate their spiritual lives with this collection of short yet deeply thought-provoking meditations.

Women spend a large portion of their lives serving everyone around them—making sure the kids are fed and to school on time, the house is in working order, the to-do list is full of checkmarks and they’re volunteering on Sunday mornings at church. After pouring into everyone and everything else, it’s a struggle to have any time or energy left over at all—not even when it comes to cultivating their relationship with God.

Author and seasoned mentor Alicia Britt Chole offers relief. In her latest book, Intimate Conversations: Devotions to Nurture a Woman’s Soul, she shows women how every season—even those marked by hectic schedules and overwhelming responsibilities—can offer unprecedented opportunities to actually deepen your faith without having to put God on hold.

She reveals how that’s possible through this set of 52 daily readings. Each takes only moments to read, yet these poignant meditations will bring a refreshing perspective to a reader’s entire day.

Rather than ignore the daunting real-life issues and faith struggles that complicate your connection with God, Chole addresses them with grace and understanding. Whether it’s yearning to love God more, to learn to listen, to not give up or to overcome fear, she helps women understand how they can develop a more intimate and satisfying relationship with God in the midst of everyday challenges.
“I want to show women how each minute of every loud, distracting day is pregnant with potential for intimacy if we can learn how to simply and intentionally live it with God,” Chole says.

She draws from her experience as a mentor, daughter, wife and mother to weave personal stories of laughter and tears alongside Scripture in these meditations. Paired with thought-provoking questions for reflection or group discussion, Chole’s insightful writing will be cathartic for any woman who is hungering for a more intimate connection with God, no matter how crazy life gets.

What Others Are Saying:

“Alicia has a unique way of framing truth. Her heartfelt and thoughtful words penetrate the soul and make you think and feel in new ways.”
— Mark Batterson, author

[caption id="attachment_3025" align="alignright" width="120" caption=" "]http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=E7EBE2&IS2=1&npa=1&bg1=E7EBE2&fc1=434F3E&lc1=434F3E&t=3stai-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&asins=0800732898[/caption]
About the Author:

Alicia Britt Chole speaks nationally and internationally to leaders, pastors, professionals, students, women, and churches. She has been a mentor for students and women for more than twenty years. She is the author of Anonymous and Finding the Unseen God. Chole lives in Missouri.

About the Publisher:

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

My Review:

As I read Intimate Conversations, I kept wanting to write for permission to share the devotion I'd just read. Then I read the next one and wanted to share that one, too.

The devotions are quick and easy to read - perfect for a mom or young children, or any busy woman. But don't let the "quick and easy" fool you! Alicia cuts through the fluff and gets down to the business of getting intimate with God. With captivating stories and anecdotes and thought-provoking, heart-arresting questions, Intimate Conversations will draw you into the deeper - and yes, more intimate - relationship with God that you're longing for.

Trust me, just go get the book, and quick!


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