Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review: 101 Bible Adventures

101 Bible Adventures: The Ultimate Quest for Truth is a fantastic addition to my home library.

With my youngest two -- ages 5 & 7 -- we've outgrown most of the "story Bible" types of books we own.  I've been donating them to a mission in town, where they hand out free Bibles and Bible resources along with so many other things.

Anyway, this sounded interesting, so I went for it.

From the publisher:
101 Bible Adventures offers kids a high-energy, adventure-filled approach to reading, interacting with, and learning life lessons from the Scriptures. It takes 101 favorite adventure-filled stories from the New Living Translation and puts them into one amazing book. Each Bible story has a brief overview so kids can get a bird's-eye view of the story, a key verse that sums up its meaning, and a Read and Learn application section that challenges kids to make their faith active. 101 Bible Adventures gives kids a great way to explore the Scriptures while highlighting concepts such as building good character; the importance of having good role models; and themes such as forgiveness, love, and God's wonderful plan for our lives.
What I love is that each story is pretty short - two pages long.  It mostly covers the "big" stories of the Bible, but some are not frequently seen in story Bibles of this size.  Like on page 102, you have the story from 2 Samuel 9, where David takes Mephibosheth into his home.  The two-page spread includes:
  • What's up -- a brief 3 sentence summary of the story.  My kids love this.
  • Action Adventure -- this is the full story, from the NLT
  • Key Verse - in this case, Proverbs 3:3.
  • A little one-panel cartoon
  • Now What? complete with an Indiana Jones-style hat -- this has a challenge to the kids, in this case, relating to keeping promises.
This is something I can sit down and read with the kids daily in a fairly short period of time, with a direction of how to discuss the passage... and it engages them.  I love that it is a fabulous step between the picture-filled story Bible and the big thick with lots of words real Bible. 

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.   

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book Review: Four Letter Words

For the past couple of weeks, I've been reading Four Letter Words by Bill Giovannetti on my Kindle.  Intended for teens and young adults, this has been a great book to read, though I'm not quite ready to hand it over to my (young) teens.

I have really enjoyed the book.  Giovannetti really makes me think, which is a great thing.

From the publisher:
Thou shalt tolerate every opinion... except the Christian's. Today's postmodern "prime directive" leaves many followers of Jesus tongue-tied. In the global village, isn't it unreasonable, and even dangerous, to suggest that the Bible has a monopoly on truth?

The church needs a new breed of Christ-follower. We need Christ-followers who are alert to today's touchy ideas, the truths that fire up more heat than light. We need Christ-followers who can make a clear case for the Bible's worldview; who are ready to help our friends think through their beliefs; who can recognize inconsistencies and challenge them; and who can do all of this with humility, confidence, humor, and love. For more information visit http://fourletterwords.org.
Each chapter is set up in the same basic way:
  • A quote about the chapter's topic
  • Touchy ideas -- which are fabulous -- and are basically a list of Christian points of view that are considered politically incorrect in today's day and age.  These really set the stage for what will follow in the chapter.
  • Touch scriptures -- also fabulous -- a list of scripture verses relating to those touchy ideas listed above
  • The bulk of the chapter, where Giovannetti expounds on the touchy ideas and the touchy scriptures.
  • Talking Points -- kind of a chapter summary, these talk about the highlights and quite often include a challenge to the reader.  
And at the end, there is also a discussion guide.  That is rather inconvenient with the Kindle, since I haven't exactly figured out all the bookmarking functions.  But... had I noticed it earlier (and when I do have my kids read it) there is also a printable guide at the Four Letter Words website.

The chapter topics start with one on Christianity in general, then move into topics involving truth and knowledge.  While I love the style and tone of this book, those really didn't present anything terribly new for me, nor for my kids I'm sure.

But then it starts getting into chapters on pain, suffering and evil, or on love, or hell... and those got my attention.  I really like the idea of my teens working through these chapters, and I ended up with a lot to think about.

And then, Chapter 9, titled "Wait."  While I think this chapter on sex is great for adults, and for older teens, I have to say this is more detailed than I want my (young) teens reading.  Okay, so I'm probably a prude, but it was just a bit too much for now.  Probably if they were in public school, well, I'd feel different I think.  I did really love the "four letter word" he chose for the chapter on sex though.  "Wait" definitely IS a four-letter word these days.

Anyway, with the one caveat of pre-reading the "Wait" chapter... this is a book I'd definitely recommend for teens, young adults... and not-so-young adults too.  You can read what others thought at the LitFuse blog tour page.

And a giveaway!

Bill is celebrating the new Kindle edition of Four Letter Words (for only $4.99)! He’ll be traveling coast to coast over the next few weeks on this virtual book tour and he's celebrating by hosting a great giveaway!

Click here to find out how you can win two gift certificates to Amazon (in the amount of $50 and $25) and free downloads of his yet-to-be-released title, Recession-Proof: Living a God-Blessed Life in a Messed Up World.

The whole scoop is here.

Disclaimer:  I received this book through LitFuse Blog Tour.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book Review: World of Animals

During my kids' preschool through early elementary years, we used a lot of Usborne and DK books in our science studies especially.  One thing that sometimes made me a little crazy was the constant beating over our heads with evolution and millions of years.  One book about animals was actually pretty funny. Roughly every third two-page spread included words along the lines of "the earliest fossils show that xxx has not changed at all in millions of years."  (The other pages made no mention of fossil records.)

We used these books, however, because of the amazing photographs/illustrations and the basically good information about the various critters.  And there really weren't any good options.

Until now.

World of Animals. This amazing, big 250-some page hardcover book covers animals from the "simplest" (protists, sponges, corals) up through the mammals you would expect in an animal book.  And it covers a bunch of categories "in-between" as well... worms, insects, fish, amphibians & reptiles, and birds.

There is a fabulous combination of photographs and illustrations, and the text goes way beyond just factoids.  Thomas (11) said, "I really like how much it describes the animals.  It spends more time describing details that you don't automatically know.  Some books spend time on stuff like 'giraffes have long necks' which you know just by looking at one.  And others just give a bunch of numbers and stuff.  This tells you all kinds of cool stuff without getting bogged down on the stupid."

Eloquent guy, huh?

His big brother noticed something else about this book, though, that I think is absolutely wonderful.  And that is that it is giving these "Fascinating facts about the world of Animals" without the evolution stories (as I mentioned above) but also mostly without a lot of "God designed this" talk either.  We have not read the entire book, and I wasn't really watching for it until the last week or so...  but really, the introduction is the only place we noticed content that would be considered specifically "young earth" in nature... the bulk of the book is just really great information about animals.

It is refreshing.

And even after minoring in Biology once upon a time, and after the bazillions of animal books I have read to my kids in the past dozen years, I was finding things in here that I did not know. 

This is a book I would highly recommend for every kid...  and I know we'll be reading through it a few times.  You can check out a great sample of this animal book here.

Watch this space... I'll be talking about World of Science soon (I hope!)

Disclaimer:   I received these books for free from New Leaf Publishing Group.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.   

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The End of an Era

Trina -- my baby -- is growing up.

And I have proof.

And another shot...

How can it be?

FIRST Wild Card Tour: The Juice Lady's Weekend Weight-Loss Diet

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Siloam (December 13, 2011)

***Special thanks to Jon Wooten of Charisma House for sending me a review copy.***


Cherie Calbom, MS, is the author of The Juice Lady’s Turbo Diet, The Juice Lady’s Living Foods Revolution, and Juicing for Life, which has nearly two million books in print in the United States. Known as “The Juice Lady” for her work with juicing and health, Cherie has worked as a clinical nutritionist and has a master’s degree in nutrition.

Visit the author's website.


Jump-Start Your Diet…

Detox Your System…

Lose a Dress Size…

Shrink Your Love Handles . . .

…with this two-day diet program that helps you get healthy for life.

Start Friday night with a juice or green smoothie dinner. Then have an all-liquid Saturday and Sunday breakfast and lunch, followed by a raw food dinner Sunday night. It’s easy, delicious, and requires only a weekend commitment!

Look and feel great for a special event

Motivate yourself for continued weight loss

Cleanse your system after a stressful week

Jump-start your living foods lifestyle!

My take:   I fully intended to read this book and actually try the two-day juice diet before this posted.  But being sick, and then just a ton of other stuff happening... and I have not had the opportunity to actually try this.

The book, however, was encouraging, motivating... and I know from doing a juice diet in the past (that relied on purchased juices, not making-it-yourself stuff) that the concept works.  There are suggestions in here for doing a one-day detox, or the weekend one advertised in the title, or even going longer (and that incorporates more than "just" juice).

The other thing I really liked was that there was definitely the advice to pay attention to how you are feeling, and to incorporate food into your diet if you are experiencing problems -- that maybe a one-day option would be better for you.

Product Details:

  • List Price: $12.99
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Siloam (December 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616386568
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616386566


    Weight Loss on a Mission

    The World Health Organization estimates that by 2015, there will be more than 1.5 billion overweight consumers, incurring health costs beyond $117 billion per year in the US alone.1 It’s obvious that we need to do something differently. We need a new way of life—a revolution in how we eat, one that we adopt for the rest of our lives.

    What if you found a weight-loss program that could help you lose weight more effectively than anything you’ve ever tried? And what if that program didn’t involve expensive meals you had to order, pills you had to buy, or anything other than great whole foods you prepare in your kitchen? What if that program helped

    you look and feel better than ever? And what if it was such an energizing way of life that you wanted to follow it for the rest of your life? Are you interested?

    The Juice Lady’s Weekend Weight-Loss Diet is a fast track to just such a program. This two-day jump start can lead you into a transformative lifestyle that is helping thousands of people lose weight, keep it off for good, and completely revolutionize their health. This is what I call weight loss on a mission—the mission is to help you become healthy, happy, and filled with life, as well as slim and fit. (You’ll find a complete weight-loss juicing program in my book The Juice Lady’s Turbo Diet.)

    Freshly made vegetable juices are at the center of the weekend weight-loss diet. They provide concentrated sources of very absorbable nutrients. They are low in fat and calories, so replacing higher-calorie foods with fresh juice is a shoo-in for weight-loss success.

    But the benefits of juicing don’t stop there. Vegetable juices help curb cravings because they satisfy your body’s nutrient needs. They’re alkaline, which is very helpful to balance out a system that’s most probably too acidic. They’re also high in antioxidants that are antiaging and immune enhancing—that means you’re giving your body the things it needs to start looking and feeling younger.

    Fresh Juice—a Cornucopia of Nutrients

    Every time you pour a glass of juice, picture a cornucopia of nutrients cascading into your body, promoting health, revving up your metabolism, balancing weight, and increasing vitality. This melange of nutrients can change your life—completely change your life—as it completely changed mine! Here’s what every glass of juice provides.

    Amino acids

    Did you ever consider juice to be a source of protein? Most people would say no. Surprisingly, it does offer more amino acids than you might think. We use amino acids to form muscles, ligaments, tendons, hair, nails, and skin. Protein is needed to create enzymes, which direct chemical reactions, and hormones, which

    guide bodily functions. Fruits and vegetables contain lower quantities of protein than animal foods such as muscle meats and dairy products. Therefore they are thought of as poor protein sources. But juices are concentrated forms of vegetables and so provide easily absorbed amino acids, the building blocks that make up protein. For example, 16 ounces of carrot juice (2–3 pounds of carrots) provides about 5 grams of protein (the equivalent of about a chicken wing or 2 ounces of tofu). I don’t recommend drinking that much carrot juice because of the sugar content, but that’s an example.

    Vegetable protein is not complete protein, so it does not provide all the amino acids your body needs. In addition to lots of dark leafy greens, when you finish your weekend weight-loss kick start, you’ll want to eat other protein sources, such as sprouts, legumes (beans, lentils, and split peas), nuts, seeds, and whole grains. If you’re not vegan, you can add eggs and free-range, grass-fed muscle meats such as chicken, turkey, lamb, and beef along with wild-caught fish.


    Most vegetable juice contains good carbohydrates. The exceptions would be carrots and beets, which have higher sugar content. They should be used in small quantities and diluted with low-sugar vegetable juices such as cucumber and dark leafy greens. Carbs provide fuel for the body, which it uses for energy, heat production, and chemical reactions. The chemical bonds of carbohydrates lock in the energy a plant takes up from the sun and soil, and this energy is released when the body burns plant food as fuel.

    There are three categories of carbs: simple (sugars), complex (starches and fiber), and fiber. Choose more complex carbohydrates in your diet than simple carbs. There are more simple sugars in fruit juice than vegetable juice, which is why I recommend you juice primarily vegetables, use low-sugar fruit for flavor and a little sweetness, and in most cases drink no more than 4 ounces of fruit juice a day.

    Both insoluble fiber and soluble fiber are found in whole fruits and vegetables—both types are needed for good health. It’s amazing how many people still say juice doesn’t have any fiber. It contains the soluble form—pectin and gums, which are excellent for the digestive tract. Soluble fiber also helps to lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, and improve good bowel bacteria and elimination.

    Essential fatty acids

    There is very little fat in fruit and vegetable juices, but the fats juice does contain are essential to your health. The essential fatty acids (EFAs)—linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids in particular—found in fresh juice function as components of nerve cells, cellular membranes, and hormonelike substances called prostaglandins. They are also required for energy production.


    Fresh juice is replete with vitamins, but heat and processing destroy vitamins. We need these organic substances because they take part, along with minerals and enzymes, in chemical reactions throughout the body. For example, vitamin C participates in the production of collagen, one of the main types of protein found in the body that keeps your skin looking fresh and youthful rather than sagging and aging. Fresh juices are excellent sources of water-soluble vitamins such as C, many of the B vitamins, and some fat-soluble vitamins such as E and K, along with key phytonutrients like beta-carotene (known as pro-vitamin A), lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin. They also are coupled with cofactors that increase the effectiveness of each nutrient; for example, vitamin C and bioflavonoids work together synergistically to make each more effective.


    There are about two dozen minerals that your body needs to function well, and they’re abundant in fresh juice. They make up part of bones, teeth, and blood, and they help maintain normal cellular function. The major minerals include calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur. Trace minerals, which include boron, chromium, cobalt, copper, manganese, nickel, selenium, vanadium, and zinc, are those needed in very small amounts.

    Minerals occur in inorganic forms in the soil, and plants incorporate them into their tissues. As a part of this process, the minerals are combined with organic molecules into easily absorbable forms, which makes plants an excellent dietary source of minerals. Juicing is believed to provide even better mineral absorption than whole vegetables because the process of juicing releases minerals into a highly absorbable, easily digestible form.


    These living molecules are prevalent in raw foods, but heat, such as cooking and pasteurization, destroys them. Enzymes facilitate the biochemical reactions necessary for life. They are complex structures composed predominantly of protein and usually require additional cofactors to function, including vitamins; minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron; and other elements. Fresh juice is chock-full of enzymes. Without them we would not have life.

    When you eat and drink enzyme-rich foods, these little molecules help break down food in the digestive tract, thereby sparing the pancreas, liver, and stomach—the body’s enzyme producers—from overwork. This sparing action is known as the “law of adaptive secretion of digestive enzymes,” which asserts that the body will adapt or change the amount of digestive enzymes it produces according to what is needed. According to this law, when a portion of the food you eat is digested by enzymes present in the food, the body won’t need to secrete as much of its own enzymes. This allows the body’s energy to be shifted from digestion to other functions such as repair and rejuvenation.

    Fresh juices require very little energy expenditure to digest. That is one reason why people who start consistently drinking fresh veggie juice often report that their digestion and elimination improve and that they feel better and more energized right away.


    Plants contain substances know as phytochemicals that protect them from disease, injury, and pollution. Phyto means plant, and chemical in this context means nutrient. There are tens of thousands of phytochemicals in the foods we eat. For example, the average tomato may contain up to ten thousand different types of these nutrients, with one of the most famous being lycopene. Phytochemicals give plants their color, odor, and flavor. Unlike vitamins and enzymes, they are heat stable and can withstand cooking. Some of them, such as lycopene, appear to be more effective when cooked.


    There’s one more substance abundant in raw foods that is more difficult to measure than the others. It’s known as biophotons, which is light energy that is found in the living cells of raw plant foods. These photons have been shown to emit coherent light energy when uniquely photographed (Kirlian photography). This light energy is believed to have many benefits when consumed, such as aiding cellular communication and feeding the mitochondria and the DNA. They are believed to contribute to our energy, vitality, and a feeling of vibrancy and well-being.

    Now that you’ve learned about the powerful nutritional punch packed inside each glass of juice you drink, let’s consider how this applies to weight loss.

    Power Foods That Give Your Weight Loss a Big Boost

    In addition to some of the basic steps you can take to achieve weight loss success, there are specific foods you can add to your weight-loss program that will make a huge difference in assisting your body in burning fat. These super foods can help you succeed and give you super-size health dividends at the same time. Be sure to add them to your weight-loss program.

    Green juice: the number one fat cure. In honor of his hundredth show, Dr. Oz served on the set his favorite green juice drink to one hundred people who had lost thirteen thousand pounds combined. This blend of cucumbers, apple, and leafy greens started a new wave of interest in green juices for weight loss. So why do green juices work so well? Dr. Oz cites the fact that they compensate for the fact that most of us are simply not getting sufficient nourishment from standard diets. He says, “We know we have to have at least five fistfuls of leafy green vegetables and fruit every day, so we make a morning green drink.”2

    There’s evidence to suggest that even if we took the time to chew up five cups of green veggies each day, we wouldn’t get as much benefit from them as we would from juicing them. The mechanical process of juicing the vegetables breaks apart plant cell walls and makes absorption better than even when the best “chewers” chew their food at least thirty times before swallowing. It has an effect like throwing marbles at a chain-link fence rather than tennis balls; their contents are going to go through in a way that tennis balls can’t.

    The juices contain easily absorbed micronutrients that will do more than slim you down—they’ll optimize your overall health and wellness. There’s science behind the green juices transformative powers and a number of reasons why the juices, along with a high intake of living foods, energize your body, fire up your metabolism, speed slimming, and overhaul your health. Here’s the evidence as to why it works.

    Green Veggies Help Lower the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

    Because of their high magnesium content and low glycemic index, green leafy vegetables are also valuable for persons with type 2 diabetes. One study revealed that an increase of just one and onehalf servings a day of green leafy vegetables was associated with a 14 percent lower risk of diabetes.3

    Magnesium-rich greens ramp up your energy. A British study comparing the metabolism of female twins found that magnesium intake was the most important dietary variable that determined adiponectin levels.4 Adiponectin is a fat cell hormone that promotes insulin sensitivity. This hormone has recently gained attention from researchers because of its regulation of glucose and fat metabolism. Elevated levels of adiponectin are associated with increased insulin sensitivity and fat burning. Adiponectin also seems to work closely with leptin—a hormone that helps control the appetite. As you lose weight, this hormone gets a boost. Fresh fruit and vegetables have a positive influence on this hormone, which is made in fat cells. It boosts metabolism and helps regulate inflammation, which, consequently, helps to prevent weight gain, becoming a type 2 diabetic, or developing heart disease.

    This new study shows very clearly that adequate magnesium is imperative to maintaining adiponectin levels. This means that a deficiency of magnesium, which is common in America, is a clear contributor to the problems people have with weight management. Magnesium also plays a key role in fighting off stress and anxiety, supporting restful sleep, preventing restless leg syndrome, and boosting energy.

    Further, magnesium helps prevent fat storage. When magnesium is low, cells fail to recognize insulin. As a result, glucose accumulates in the blood—and then it gets stored as fat instead of being burned for fuel. Green plants, which are rich in magnesium, are far superior to magnesium supplements because the supplements’ particles are a bit large for the body to entirely absorb. (I’m in favor of taking magnesium supplements, if they are needed, but as an adjunct to a magnesium-rich diet.) Green plants take inorganic minerals from the soil through their tiny roots and incorporate them into their cells. They become organic particles that are much smaller and easier for the body to absorb. It is estimated that more than 90 percent of a plant’s minerals is delivered to the cells when you juice the greens. So juice up those leaves—chard, collards, beet tops, parsley, spinach—the five highest in magnesium, plus kohlrabi leaves, kale, dandelion greens, lettuce, and mustard greens.

    Here’s the good news—you’ll increase your energy with this highoctane fuel! That means you’ll get more done and feel more like working out, so you’ll burn more calories and build more muscle.

    Enzymes Speed Fat Burning

    Our bodies produce enzymes that are used in digesting the food we eat. They can be found in the saliva, small intestine, stomach, liver, and pancreas. These hardworking little catalysts break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into fatty acids, amino acids, and forms of glucose that feed your cells.

    Enzymes are responsible for a host of reactions in the body. All the minerals, herbs, vitamins, and hormones we take can’t do their jobs without enzymes. When your diet is deficient in enzymes from live foods (uncooked, not processed), your body has to work harder to produce the enzymes it needs. If you’re deficient, you may experience weight gain, depression, and many other maladies that plague modern society.

    Enzymes are truly weight-loss supermen. But these magic bullets start decreasing as we age—by age thirty-five most people see a decline in their enzyme production. Still, we need them for weight loss and good digestion. It’s enzymes that assist in the breakdown and burning of fat.

    This is where juices come to the rescue—as I mentioned earlier, they’re packed with enzymes. Eating a high percentage of raw food is important because cooking and processing our food destroys enzymes. When you drink fresh, live juices and eat plenty of living foods, the enzymes they contain kick your metabolism into gear by helping to spare your liver and pancreas from working so hard. Then these organs can focus on their metabolic tasks of burning fat and producing energy. And your digestion will improve. This affects your whole life, your whole being.

    Three Super-Hero Enzymes

    Lipase. Lipase is a fat-splitting enzyme that is abundant in raw foods. It assists your body in digestion,

    fat distribution, and fat burning. However, few of us eat enough raw foods to get sufficient lipase

    to burn even a normal amount of fat, not to mention any excess fat. Without lipase, fat accumulates.

    You can see it on your hips, thighs, buttocks, and stomach. Lipase is richest in raw foods that contain

    some fat, such as sprouted seeds and nuts, avocado, and fresh coconut meat.

    Protease. As your body burns flab, toxins are released into your system. This can cause water retention and bloating. Protease is a digestive enzyme that helps to break down proteins and eliminate toxins. Eliminating toxins is essential when you’re burning fat. If your body is storing toxins, it’s very difficult to burn fat. But protease comes to the rescue and attacks and eliminates toxins. So, as you can see, it’s crucial to have plenty of protease during weight loss. Protease is richest in the leaves of plants. So juice up those

    green leaves and burn fat. Plus, the greens are also rich in antioxidants that bind up toxins and carry them out of your system so they won’t hurt your cells. That means you’ll get double action with green juices.

    Amylase. Amylase is a digestive enzyme that breaks down complex carbohydrates into simple sugars. It’s also present in saliva. So while we chew our food, it goes to work on carbs. That’s why it’s recommended that you chew each mouthful of food about thirty times. The pancreas also makes amylase. And amylase is plentiful in seeds that contain starch. (You can juice most seeds of fruits and vegetables.) Its therapeutic use is in regulation of histamine, which is produced in response to recognized invaders to the body. Histamine is a responder in allergic reactions such as hay fever and is what causes hives, itchy watery eyes, sneezing,

    and runny noses. Amylase breaks down the histamine produced by the body in response to allergens like pollen or dust mites. Some health professionals believe it may help the body identity the allergen as not being harmful so it doesn’t produce the histamine in the first place. This is one reason that people on a high raw plant diet often experience improvement in their allergies. For the most effective approach to increasing

    enzymes, you may also want to take an enzyme supplement. I especially like an enzyme formula that

    is taken between meals—it cleans up any undigested particles of food floating around the system and

    greatly improves digestion. A popular side benefit is that your hair gets thicker and your nails grow

    stronger. (For more information on these enzymes, see Appendix A.)

    Greens Alkalize Your Body and Promote Weight Loss

    Many people eat a high-sugar breakfast consisting of foods and drinks such as orange juice, toast, jam, honey, sweetened cereal, sweet rolls, doughnuts, muffins, waffles, or pancakes. All this sugar and simple carbohydrates (which turn to sugar easily) promote acidity and cause yeast and fungus to grow. They also produce a lot of acid. Traditional high-protein breakfast foods such as omelets, cheese, bacon, sausage, and meat promote elevated acid levels in the body as well. Add to that highly acidic drinks such as coffee, black

    tea, sodas, alcohol, and sports drinks, and acidic foods for lunch and dinner, and you’re consuming loads of acid-forming foods throughout the day. Keep in mind that acid-forming food does not mean the state of the food when you eat or drink it but the final ash residue after it is metabolized. As a result of this style of eating, along with not eating enough green veggies and other living foods, many people suffer from a condition known as mild acidosis, which is an out-of-balance pH leaning toward acidity. This means that the body is continually fighting to maintain pH balance.

    One of the symptoms of acidosis is weight gain and an inability to lose weight. That’s because the body tends to store acid in fat cells and to hang on to those cells to protect your delicate tissues and organs. It will even make more fat cells in which to store acid, if they’re needed. To turn this scenario around, it’s important to alkalize your body. Greens are one of the best choices you could make because they’re very alkaline. And juicing them gives you an easy way to consume a lot more than you could chew up in a day.

    To give your body a great start in rebalancing your pH, make 60 percent to 80 percent of your diet alkalizing foods such as green vegetables, raw juices, grasses such as wheatgrass juice, fresh vegetables and fruit, raw seeds, nuts, and sprouts. Greatly limit or avoid your consumption of acid-forming foods such as meat, dairy products, chocolate, sweets, bread and all other yeast products, alcohol, carbonated drinks, sports drinks, coffee, and black tea. When pH balance is achieved, the body should automatically drop to its ideal, healthy weight unless you have other health challenges. (But those should heal too over time.) As the acidic environment is neutralized with mineral-rich alkaline foods, there will be no need for your body to create new fat cells for storage of acid. And since the remaining fat is no longer needed to store acid wastes, it simply melts away.

    This is also a great way to restore your health. Many diseases such as cancer thrive in an acidic state. Take away the acid, and they don’t do as well. An alkaline diet also boosts your energy level, improves skin, reduces allergies, sustains the immune system, and enhances mental clarity.

    Thermogenic Foods Rev Up Your Metabolism

    Thermogenesis means the production of heat, which raises metabolism and burns calories. Thermogenic foods are essentially fat-burning foods and spices that help increase your metabolism. This means that with some of your kitchen staples, you can burn off fat during or right after you eat and increase your fat-burning potential just by eating them. So include these super foods often in your juices and recipes.

    Hot peppers. Imagine eating hot peppers and revving up your metabolism enough to lose weight. A study in 2010 found that obesity was caused by a lack of thermogenic response in the body rather than by overeating or lack of exercise. “The animals developed obesity mainly because they didn’t produce enough heat after eating, not because the animals ate more or were less active,” said Dr. Yong Xu, instructor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and co-lead author of the study.5 Another study found that hot peppers turn up the internal heat, which helps in burning calories.6 You can add hot peppers or a dash of hot sauce to many juice recipes or almost any dish and make it taste delicious.

    Garlic. When it comes to weight loss, garlic appears to be a miracle food. A team of doctors at Israel’s Tel Hashomer Hospital conducted a test on rats to find out how garlic can prevent diabetes and heart attacks, and they found an interesting side effect—none of the rats given allicin (a compound in garlic) gained weight.7

    Garlic is a known appetite suppressant. The strong odor of garlic stimulates the satiety center in the brain, thereby reducing feelings of hunger. It also increases the brain’s sensitivity to leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells that controls appetite. Further, garlic stimulates the nervous system to release hormones such as adrenalin, which speed up metabolic rate. This means a greater ability to burn calories. More calories burned means less weight gained—a terrific correlation.

    Ginger. Ginger contains a substance that stimulates gastric enzymes, which can boost metabolism. The better your metabolism, the more calories you’ll burn. It has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory—

    inflammation is implicated in obesity. Ginger helps improve gastric motility—the spontaneous peristaltic movements of the stomach that aid in moving food through the digestive system. When the digestive system is functioning at its best, you’ll experience less bloating and constipation. It has also been found to

    lower cholesterol. And ginger is the top vegan source of zinc, which gives a big boost to your immune system. Top that off with the fact that it tastes delicious in juice recipes, and you have a super spice. I add it to almost every juice recipe I make.

    Parsley. This dark green herb offers a great way to make your dishes and juices super healthy. Parsley helps you detox because it’s chock-full of antioxidants, like vitamin C and flavonoids, and it’s loaded with minerals and chlorophyll. It’s also a natural diuretic, which helps you get rid of stored water. That means thinner ankles, feet, and fingers. And it improves digestion and strengthens the spleen as well. You can add a handful of parsley to almost any juice recipe and you won’t even know it’s there.

    Cranberries. Studies show that cranberries are loaded with acids that researchers believe are useful in dissolving fat deposits. When fat deposits settle in the body, they are hard to get rid of, so it’s best to get them before they get “hooked on” you. Some studies point out that the enzymes in cranberries can aid metabolism, which gives a boost to weight loss.8This tart little fruit is a natural diuretic, helping you get rid of excess water and bloating. Of all the fruits, cranberries rank number two for antioxidant content, which helps detoxify the body. And they promote healthy teeth and gums, fight urinary track infections, improve heart health, and keep cancer at bay.

    Kathy, who was featured in my “Holiday Fat Buster” article in the December 27, 2010, issue of Woman’s World, issue, lost 5 pounds in seventy-two hours drinking a cranberry, pear, cucumber, and ginger

    cocktail along with the rest of the Turbo Juice Diet Program. Within a week Kathy’s tummy was down 5.5 inches—she said she had to keep measuring to make sure it was right. Regarding the juice diet program, she said, “Overall, I had a lot of energy and no hunger.”9 You can add cranberries to many recipes for a delicious enhancer to your juice drinks and a boost to your weight loss at the same time. If you buy these berries when they’re in season, you can freeze a few packages to have on hand for seasons when they aren’t available.

    Blueberries. A 2010 study found that blueberries can help you get rid of belly fat, thanks to the high level of phytochemicals (antioxidants) they contain. The study also showed that blueberries are helpful in preventing type 2 diabetes, and the benefits were even greater when the blueberries were combined with a low-fat diet.10 Moreover, blueberries can also help fight hardening of the arteries and improve the memory.

    Lemons. Adding just a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to your water, salad, or soup will help ward off cravings, alkalize your body, and keep your insulin levels in check. Hot lemon water with a dash of cayenne pepper is a great way to start your day—it gets the liver, your fat-burning organ, moving in the morning. It’s also a natural diuretic and helps clear out toxins from your system. Further, it aids the digestive process and prevents constipation. It can also help alleviate heartburn—just add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to water and drink with your meal. Limonene, a compound in lemons, helps short-circuit the production of acid in the stomach—lemons are very alkalizing. Meyer lemons, my favorite, are sweeter and are available in the winter.

    The Low-Glycemic Benefits of Juicing

    The glycemic index has become a popular weight-loss tool based in part on the fact that high-glycemic foods raise blood sugar levels, cause the body to secrete excess insulin, and lead to the storage of fat. Originally developed to help diabetics manage blood sugar control, the glycemic index has become popular in the weight-loss market largely because it works so well. Researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that patients who lost weight with a low-glycemic diet kept the weight off longer than patients who lost the same amount of weight with a low-fat diet.11

    The glycemic index (GI) diet refers to a system of ranking carbohydrates according to how much a certain amount of each food raises a person’s blood sugar level. It’s determined by measuring how much a 50-gram serving of carbohydrate raises a person’s blood sugar level compared with a control.

    Virtually all carbohydrates are digested into glucose and cause a temporary rise in blood glucose levels, called the glycemic response. But some foods raise it more than others. This response is affected by many factors, including the quantity of food, the amount and type of carbohydrate, how it’s cooked or eaten raw, and the degree of processing. Each food is assigned an index number from 1 to 100, with 100 as the reference score for pure glucose. Typically, foods are rated high (greater than 70), moderate (56–69), and low (less than 55). Low-glycemic foods, especially raw carbohydrates, can help control blood sugar, appetite, and weight. Though helpful for everyone, they are especially helpful for people with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.

    Low-glycemic foods are absorbed more slowly, allowing a person to feel full longer and therefore be less likely to overeat. Raw food experts such as Dr. John Douglass have found that raw carbohydrates such as the raw juices are better tolerated than cooked carbs. They don’t elicit the addictive cravings that cooked foods cause. Douglass believes, as does the Finish expert A. I. Virtanen, that the enzymes in raw food play an important role in the way they stimulate weight loss as they do in the treatment of obesity.12

    When you get to chapter 6, “Beyond the Weekend,” you will be encouraged to choose most of your carbohydrate foods from the low-glycemic index and a large percentage of those foods as raw. The foods I recommend eating after you’ve completed your weekend weight-loss diet (see Appendix B) are for the most part low glycemic and are nutrient-rich, not refined, and higher in fiber—like whole vegetables, fruit, and legumes (beans, lentils, split peas).

    Not All Carbs Are Created Equal

    Different carbohydrates take different pathways in the body after digestion. For example, some starchy foods are bound by an outer layer of very complex starches (fiber) like the legumes (beans, lentils, split peas), which increases the time it takes for them to be digested. So even though legumes are relatively high in carbohydrates, they have a lower glycemic response because of their complex encasing.

    There is also the antioxidant potential of foods to consider, meaning the amount of antioxidant nutrients a food contains, such as beta-carotene and vitamin C that are abundant in many fruits and vegetables. In Chinese culture, carrots are often used as cooling medicine. Carrots, beets (both very rich in beta-carotene),

    and other brightly colored vegetables are especially important to include in our diet to prevent disease. These days many health professionals suggest we eliminate carrots and beets because of their glycemic rating, but the weekend weight-loss diet does not exclude them because of their high nutrient and fiber content. But I do recommend that you use them in small amounts because they are higher in sugar.

    Also, please keep in mind that not all low-glycemic foods are healthy fare. Low-glycemic foods include candy bars and potato chips. These foods are very nutrient depleted, contain sugar or turn to sugar easily,

    and lack fiber. You need to get the best nutrition for your choices. With this plan, there’s no obsessing over the glycemic index either, just a basic understanding of the principles. Keep in mind that certain factors can change a score, such as the riper the fruit, the higher the glycemic index score. But always choose ripe fruits and vegetables over unripe; they are healthier by far. Adding good fat to foods can lower the GI score. And keep in mind that the GI response to any given food also varies widely from person to person.

    It can even vary within the same person from day to day. So it’s important to listen to your body and determine how the foods you are eating are affecting you.

    More Than Weight Loss

    Years ago when I was taking prerequisites for my master of science program in whole foods nutrition at Bastyr University, I worked for a weight-loss center part time as a nutrition counselor. I noticed that a number of people who entered the program looked healthy, meaning they had good skin color and tone and vibrancy—they were just overweight. Soon into the program, I noticed that though they were losing weight, they weren’t looking healthier. I observed a loss of skin tone, skin color turning a grayish pallor, and a loss of energy and vitality. I was alarmed. Even as a student I knew that it was not just about dropping weight; it was about getting healthier. I quit the job, unable to promote something that I felt did harm.

    When you embark on a weight-loss program, it should be about getting healthier along with losing weight. Whether you want to lose 10, 20, 50, 100, or even 200 pounds, it isn’t just about getting the weight off any way you can. I know people who have lost weight through drastic means and ruined their health in the process.

    Losing weight with vegetable juices and kicking off your program with the Weekend Weight-Loss Diet is the first step in choosing a weight-loss regimen that doesn’t sacrifice your health. That’s why I’m excited about introducing you to the Weekend Weight-Loss Diet. I know what it can do for you. So many people have praised this program and my other juice diets because of the increased health and energy they experienced. And if they can experience these great results, you can too. You’re off to a great start and a

    lifetime of fitness!

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Book Review: Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go

    It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

    You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

    Today's Wild Card author is:

    and the book:

    Kirkdale Press (November 27, 2011)

    ***Special thanks to Ryan Rotz, Publicist, Kirkdale Press for sending me a review copy.***


    Naomi Dathan has been fascinated with prairie life since her third grade teacher read Little House in the Big Woods to the class. She finally indulged this fascination with her fourth novel, Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go. She lives in Ohio with her two daughters and two undersized beagles with oversized egos.

    Check out her witty blog http://naomidathan.com


    For everything there is a season. A season for joy. A season for sorrow. A season for testing.

    Jem Perkins has it all – money, a fine house, a handsome husband, and a new baby boy. But when her family fortunes turn, Jem’s husband Seth leads her to a new home: a sod house on a Nebraska homestead.

    It is a season of growth for Jem as she reluctantly confronts her new realities: back-breaking labor, dangerous illness, and mind-numbing isolation. She learns to embrace her new role as a capable woman and marriage partner and discovers an awareness of God’s hand in her life.

    Then, on January 12, 1888, the history-making Children’s Blizzard sweeps across the land, ushering in a season of hardship she never expected. Can Jem’s confidence, marriage, and new-found faith weather the storm?

    My take:  First off, I love using Vyrso.  But this review isn't about that.

    The book:  I started reading and really struggled.  Jem is a spoiled brat and totally unlikeable at the start of the story, which takes place in St. Paul.  Normally, just the location would grab me, as I lived in St. Paul (or suburbs of St. Paul) for quite a few years.  But something just didn't feel all that real to me.

    Then situations change, and Seth & Jem pack up for Kansas and ultimately Nebraska.  Pampered Jem starts having to deal with the reality of being a frontier wife, and she really begins to grow.  Somewhere in there is where the "new-found faith" mentioned in the blurb above develops.  What is fantastic is that Jem doesn't find God and suddenly become an amazing perfect person.  She continues to scream at her husband about things, she continues a lot of her selfish behavior... but she is clearly a different person and is obviously growing.

    I also loved Seth.  Without giving away too many plot details, he starts off as the knight in shining armor -- confident, good-looking, great provider, good relationship with God -- and he goes through his own set of trials on their Nebraska homestead.  He turns into a real, flawed, selfish husband instead of the dreamy fantasy husband he was back in their civilized life... when he was away working far more than he was home.

    I read somewhere last night that the author has never been in Nebraska, and reflecting back on the book, that tidbit of information doesn't surprise me.  I've never lived in Nebraska either, to be honest, but from my experiences living in North Dakota, Minnesota and the plains of Colorado -- and from frequent travels across Nebraska -- there were some things that just didn't quite feel authentic about the setting.  Not that I can point to anything specific.  It was clear she has done a lot of research about the time and place, and it wasn't that the setting didn't seem accurate.  There was just a certain "spark" of, well, something, that wasn't quite there.

    But it was also clear that she knew a bit about what a real marriage is like, as that just popped into most of the marriages presented.  She also clearly knows a lot about caring for a critically ill spouse.  That "spark" of something was definitely in that part of the story.

    I truly loved this book.  She says that there will be a sequel (or sequels) and I will purchase them if I don't have the chance to review them.

    And at $.99 right now...  well, here's the details on that:
    $.99 Sale!
    Buy the ebook Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go from Vyrso for $.99. Use the coupon code WILDCARD at checkout or simply click HERE.
    Offer ends this Friday.

    Whither is also available for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Books.

    About Vyrso
    Vyrso is a new Christian ebookstore and reader app from Logos Bible Software. You can read Vyrso ebooks on your iPad, iPhone, Android tablet or phone, and online at Biblia.com.

    Product Details:

    • Kindle Price: $6.15
    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 382 KB
    • Simultaneous Device Usage:Unlimited
    • Publisher: Kirkdale Press (November 27, 2011)
    • Sold by:Amazon Digital Services
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B006FK72QE
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • Lending: Enabled


      January 12, 1888

      At midnight, Charley woke shivering in his trundle bed. “Ma?”

      He rose, but couldn’t see his mother’s form in the faltering lamplight. “Ma? Mom-mom?”

      Still no answer. The cast iron stove was dark and silent. The wind outside howled like a wolf, and caught at the door of the sod house, swinging it open and shut.

      Where was Ma? Why wasn’t she making the stove hot or snuggling him warm under the covers? Was she outside with the wind-wolf?

      Charley went toward the door. Ice blew into his eyes, making them water. But he wasn’t crying. Not yet. Warmth brushed his legs, a wetness caressed his cheek. The big dog, Zeke, curled his shaggy body against Charley, pushing him backward—away from the open door.

      Charley pushed back and shook his finger at him. “No! Bad.”

      Zeke whined and pressed harder. Charley fell, landing on something warm and solid. It didn’t hurt, but he set to wailing anyway, protesting his alone state, his empty belly, and the bitter cold that bit at his eyes and ears and nostrils like fierce ants.

      No one came to comfort him, so his cries soon dried up. He scuttled across the still form on the floor, pausing at a tinkling sound. “Ging,” he said, remembering. “Ging, ging, ging.”

      The bell. Pa had rung the bell today. Ding, ding, ding. He’d stoked the fire high and hot, gave Charley cold mash to eat, and clung to the doorframe, ringing and ringing the bell. Once, Pa had fallen to the dirt floor, but after a long while, he pushed himself upright, clutched the doorframe, and rang the bell again.

      Now Pa was on the floor again, unmoving.

      Charley stepped on Pa’s head as he went to look outside “ Ma!” The storm sucked his voice away so fast that he didn’t even hear himself. The winds answered in high voices, scared and scary at the same time. Was Ma out there in the black with the wind voices?

      At last, Charley made up his mind. With Zeke making little worried sounds close beside him, Charley stepped out into the blizzard to find Ma.

      August 14, 1886 (Seventeen months before)

      The Reynolds’s tea was well attended, but the August heat oppressed the guests, subduing the conversation to a languid pace. Servants discreetly watered—and even fanned—the profusion of roses arranged in vases through the room. Ladies and gentlemen sipped English tea and nibbled at scones and trifles to be polite, waiting for the blessed moment when they could return home, untie their cravats and corsets, and have a cool bath.

      Jem Perkins had nothing but sympathy for the wilting flowers. She sank onto a thickly upholstered chair next to her sister and fanned herself.

      “Can we go home now?” she whispered.

      “Hush!” Sally hissed, shooting a worried glance toward their hosts. “Mrs. Reynolds has been planning this tea for weeks. And we haven’t even greeted the guest of honor yet.”

      Hiding behind her fan, Jem peeked at Mrs. Ashley Grayson, seated near the window. She couldn’t hear what Mrs. Grayson said, but it drew appreciative laughter from the surrounding crowd. Jem smiled at her sister with her eyes. “She does feed off the adoration, doesn’t she?”

      Sally frowned. “Oh, Jem, I’m sure that’s not fair. Mrs. Grayson deserves credit for starting the Children’s Board.”

      “Of course she does! But don’t you think she has a bit of the look a cat gets when he’s found a sunny spot on the windowsill?”

      Sally pursed her lips. “You could have worked with her, Jem. I know she asked you to. Then you’d be right up there beside her.”

      Wasn’t that just like Sally, to make out that Jem was jealous. What had she to be jealous of?

      Jem fanned herself again, waiting until her irritation ebbed before answering. After all, it wouldn’t do for Jem—the married woman—to engage in sibling squabbling with her poor spinster sister. Once satisfied that there would be only kindness in her voice, she answered. “I was hardly in a position to take on an outside project right then, was I? A woman’s first responsibility is to her family. Perhaps you’ll understand … one day.”

      Sally’s cheeks went pink as the arrow found its mark. She was Jem’s elder by three years, poor thing, and she didn’t even have a serious beau. She sniffed. “I’m sure that was it. I’m sure it wasn’t because you discovered that setting up a charitable foundation actually requires a great deal of work.”

      That stung. Jem lowered her fan. “Now you’re just being cruel. You know I work very hard, Sally. Look at how many hours I put into the flower garden last year.”

      “And then you lost interest and Rogers had to take it over.”

      “And think of all the poetry I’ve written. You’ve never written a poem in your life!”

      “And I’m better off for it.”

      “At least I’m trying things. Maybe I haven’t found my true calling yet, but you shouldn’t fault me for trying.”

      Sally opened her mouth, but then shut it again, holding up a restraining palm. “Oh, we’re quarreling like children.” She sighed. “I apologize. I’m sure you have found your true calling, Jem. I’m sure your true calling is motherhood. You’re wonderful with Charley, and what’s more important than raising a happy, healthy child?”

      Jem settled back in her seat, buying herself a minute by sipping her iced tea. Sally would never have apologized a year ago, would certainly have never offered a compliment. It was disconcerting, really. “It is hot,” she offered.

      Seeing Sally relax, she did too, leaning forward to whisper to her. “And boring. I know Mrs. Grayson deserves all of our admiration. I do, truly. But I’m so tired of seeing all the same people and having all the same conversations, day after day. This city is chockfull of people, but you couldn’t tell by us.”

      “There’s the doorbell,” Sally said. “I’m sure it will be someone fascinating.”

      “Like Mark Twain?”

      “That’s right. Or Buffalo Bill.”

      Jem giggled. “How about Jesse James?”

      “I think he’s dead. Wasn’t he killed? Oh—” Her tone changed abruptly. “Look. It is someone new.”

      Jem looked. Her fan froze. The tall man stood in the entry to the parlor, his bearing military even out of uniform. He bowed slightly to Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, shook Mr. Reynolds’s hand, and exchanged greetings with surrounding guests. Feminine eyes followed his progress as he strode in, but he didn’t seem to notice. His pewter gray eyes scanned the crowd, and landed on Jem.

      She returned his gaze, then lowered her attention to her skirts. “Well, now. The new guest is dashing, wouldn’t you say, Sally?”

      Sally made a haughty harrumph. “Oh, Sister, he looks to be a bit of a ruffian to me. Like someone who spends time in the Wild West. You’d do well to stay away from him, I think.”

      Jem murmured her agreement and peeked at the man over her fan again. His eyes were still on her. “I believe I’ll have some refreshment.”

      She approached the buffet table, turning her back on the man. Her sister was at her elbows, but when she felt Sally withdraw, she knew the man was approaching. She peeked at him over her shoulder while she ladled pink punch into a glass. He removed his derby and offered a slight bow.



      His lips twitched at her return address, or perhaps at the Virginia drawl that had crept into the single word. “I wonder if I might join you for a beverage.”

      “Why, sir, as a guest of this tea party, you are as welcome as anyone to partake, I daresay.” Yes, the drawl of her childhood was definitely back, sliding through her words like sugarcane molasses.

      “Indeed,” the man said. He poured himself punch and downed it in a single motion. The glass looked ridiculous in his large hand, like a child’s play teacup. “I have to say, ma’am, that the scenery in St. Paul has certainly improved since my departure to Washington. I don’t remember such fine, dainty creatures as yourself frequenting the Reynolds’s teas in the past.”

      Jem smiled at that, but flushed a little, too. “Perhaps, sir, you are mistaking me for one of the young ladies playing Botticelli in the next room. I’m afraid I don’t particularly”—she took her time with the word, savoring each syllable as she hadn’t in years—“qualify as dainty anymore.”

      He imitated her accent, exaggerated it into a parody of a Virginia gentleman. “Why, ma’am, you are very mistaken, I’m sure. Why, you are the … the epitome of feminine beauty and delicacy. Your eyes are as blue as cornflowers. Your lips, well, they’re two precious little, uh, roses. In fact, I wonder if we could step out into the gardens and take a stroll together? Just the two of us?”

      “Why, sir! Surely you don’t expect me to leave this tea with you, unchaparoned. Think of the scandal.”

      He pressed his hand to his chest, gave her moon eyes. “Nothing of the sort, ma’am. I cherish your reputation as I would cherish, well, the soundness of my horse’s legs. I would die before compromising your honor. In fact, in order to protect your good name, I am willing to go this far: I will tell these people that we are married.”

      Jem started to giggle, then; she couldn’t help it. He grinned back at her, and the game was up. She threw her arms around his neck, in spite of all the company around. “Oh, Seth. I’m so glad you’re home. I thought you wouldn’t be back for two more weeks.”

      “Jem.” He put his arms around her waist and let out a long breath, letting his rigid stance relax. “This was long enough. I missed you. Can we break away from this tea? How is the baby?”

      “Oh, I hated to leave him. I think he might be getting diphtheria.”

      “Diphtheria?” He didn’t sound worried. In fact, he sounded a little amused. She backed out of his arms a little to frown at him.

      “Diphtheria is very serious.”

      “You’ve had the doctor by, I take it?”

      “Of course. Twice now.”

      “And he said?”

      “Oh, you know how Dr. Hollister is. You’d have to lay an egg for him to agree you have chicken pox.”

      Seth took her elbow lightly and led her through the parlor, nodding to the ladies, offering greetings to a few of the men. “Jemima, I’m sure Dr. Hollister would know if Charley had diphtheria. It’s very distinct.”

      “You know I worry. He coughs continually—all night long. And his nose is running.”

      “Darling, it sounds like he has a cold.” He led her to the front door, where they made their apologies to the Reynolds. “Come,” he said, as he led her to the carriage. “I’ll have a look. I certainly know what diphtheria looks like.”

      Before they’d stepped through the French doors of their home, they could hear Charley’s outraged screams ringing through the house. Jem dropped Seth’s arm and ran up the long, curving staircase, allowing him to follow when he would. “Charley! Oh, dear, what’s happened?”

      She stopped when she entered the nursery. Her boy was upright, clutching the bars of his crib with chubby fingers, red-faced and tearful, but otherwise apparently fine. “Oh, dear.” She hurried to lift him and snuggled him against her bosom. “What’s the matter, you poor little boy? Are you hurt?”

      Charley’s cries subsided. He rested his nearly bald head against her, hiccoughing.

      “Poor boy,” Jem crooned. “Mama’s here, now. Where’s Nursie, hmm? Didn’t she hear you cry?”

      “He has grown.” Seth’s voice came from the doorway. “Was he standing? When did he start that?”

      “Last week.” She smiled up at him, keeping her cheek pressed against the peach fuzz of Charley’s warm head. “I wrote to you about it, but I suppose you didn’t get the letter.”

      “No, but I haven’t stayed in one place for more than a night.” He sighed, came and wrapped his arms around Jem, enveloping her and the baby in a hug. “My family.”

      “Oh, no, ma’am!” Sophie’s voice was sharp. “He’s supposed to be napping.”

      Jem and Seth turned to look at the nurse. Her hands were closed into tight fists, pressed against her stout body as if she were restraining herself from snatching the child and putting him back in his crib.

      “Oh, but he was crying so hard. Poor boy.”

      “Good afternoon, Lieutenant. Welcome home,” Sophie said, then firmed her voice to Jem. “No, ma’am. Colonel Wilkinson was clear on that. The boy must stay in his crib for his nap. The colonel don’t want him spoiled.”

      Seth’s voice was pleasant. “Sophie, I believe you work for me, not Colonel Wilkinson.”

      “No, no.” Jem hurried to the crib. “It’s fine, Seth. Really. My father is right—you know I’ll spoil him.”

      She peeled Charley off her chest and set him in the crib. His screams renewed, broken by sobs. He rolled and pulled himself back up to his feet. Seth picked him up. Charley reached for his mother, but Seth didn’t hand him over.

      “Oh, Seth, really. My father is right.”

      “I haven’t seen my son in two months. I believe he and I will take a walk around the nursery.”

      Sophie gave Seth a long, tight-lipped look, and retreated from the room.

      “Oh, my,” Jem said. “She’ll let my father know. She always does.”

      “Darling, this isn’t your father’s child. It’s ours. Why does he have anything to say about when we hold him?”

      “You know how he worries. He wants the best for his only grandson.”

      Charley stopped reaching for his mother and stared up into Seth’s face.

      “Look, he remembers you.”

      Seth made a scoffing sound, but Jem saw he looked pleased. “He’s far too young. I’m glad he’s letting me hold him, though. So, other than this dire illness that has him at death’s door, he appears to be thriving.”

      Jem sighed. “You shouldn’t tease me, Seth. Ima Caldwell—do you remember her? She said her sister’s husband’s niece lost both of her little boys last winter—one to diphtheria, and the other to pneumonia. And Amy Wiley’s whole family is ill.”

      Seth sobered and kissed Charley’s head, holding him a little closer. “It’s terrible. I can’t imagine what they’ve suffered. But Charley is healthy. God has blessed us. Let’s thank Him for it, instead of borrowing trouble.”

      “Y—yes. I do, of course.”

      She shook her head. It was the sort of comment Sally had been prone to make lately. Seth had been no believer when they met; he’d gone to church only to please Jem and her family. But something had changed over the last year. Seth had changed.

      When he was home, he attended church on Sundays as well as a Bible study on Wednesday. He led prayer at mealtimes, even if it was only the two of them sitting at the long polished dining table. She tried to act like it was normal behavior—after all, she was the one who’d been brought up in the faith—but it was really rather embarrassing.

      “There, you see, Jem? He just needed a little walk.” Charley was settled against his father’s chest. His face had relaxed, his eyes closed in sleep.

      Jem plucked a cloth from the chest of drawers and swiped at the path of drool running down the baby’s chin. “You do remember about this part, don’t you?”

      Seth gave her a wry smile. “I tried to forget. I go through fewer shirts riding on top of the stage coach. Well, I suppose I should put him down.”

      Jem arranged the soft blankets in the crib. After Seth laid Charley on them, they stood side by side, admiring their little boy. “Isn’t he beautiful? I think he’s the prettiest baby in St. Paul.”

      Seth slid his arm around her waist. “By far the handsomest, anyway.” He sighed then. “Is your father at home today? I need to discuss some things with him. I didn’t see him at the Reynolds’s tea.”

      “He said he had business to attend to today. I’m not sure whether he’s at home or at the office. But, Seth, can’t it wait? You’ve just gotten home. Can’t we spend the rest of the afternoon together?”

      She looked up at him as she finished the question, and was surprised to see the grim expression on his face.

      “I’m afraid not, Jem,” he said. “I’m sorry; I know I just got home. But I have to handle some business.”

      She gave him a quick pout, making sure to smile with her eyes so he knew she was teasing. “It’s a shame, when a man would rather spend his homecoming with his father-in-law than with his wife.”

      Seth didn’t smile back, but he kissed her on the forehead. “I’ll be home in a couple of hours. We’ll have dinner together—just the two of us, all right?

      Jem wrapped her arms around his waist and accepted his embrace. “Hurry back. I’m sure my father will be glad to see you, anyway.”