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!
***Special thanks to
Susan Otis, Creative Resources for sending me a review copy.***
M. R. Wells is the co-author of Four Paws from Heaven, Purr-ables from Heaven, and Paws for Reflection. She has written extensively for children’s animated television and video programs, including several Disney shows, Adventures from the Book of Virtues and Bibleman. She shares her Southern California home with her cats and dogs Muffin, Bo, Munchie, Becca and Marley.
Connie Fleishauer is a retired teacher and writer, and is the co-author of Four Paws from Heaven, Purr-ables from Heaven, and Paws for Reflection. The wife of a Bakersfield, California farmer, she is a mother of three and grandmother of one. While many cats have warmed her home, currently, she has two dogs.
Kris Young has worked as a screenwriter for more than 20 years and currently teaches screenwriting at the L.A. Film Studies Center and UCLA. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Celine, and son, Skye. He is currently “between dogs” but is hoping to welcome a new one sometime soon.
Visit the authors’ website.
From the authors of Four Paws from Heaven (over 100,000 copies sold) comes a new collection of devotional tales. In these heartwarming stories, the authors share wisdom gleaned from years of training, guiding, and loving the canines in their lives. Readers will discover powerful spiritual insights, including:
the blessing of true companionship
the gift of unconditional love
the joy of adoption
the power of obedience
the comfort of resting in the Master’s arms
Everyone who has loved a dog will find encouragement and hope in these touching stories—reminders that these faithful, devoted companions are part of God’s great plan for their lives.
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
When my friend Sue came home from work one summer eve- ning in 2002, the last thing she dreamed of ﬁnding on her door- step was a puppy. She loved dogs and had two of her own, but she was cautious. She could tell this pup was a pit bull, and the dog
was emaciated. But as she carefully drew nearer, the four-footed stranger smiled and wagged its tail. When Sue sat beside the pup, it climbed on her lap, smothered her with kisses, and wrapped its paws lovingly around her neck.
Since Sue could not remember seeing this pup in the neighbor- hood, she decided to keep it overnight and check for lost dog ﬂy- ers in the morning. She felt it prudent not to put the newcomer in the house with her own dogs. After feeding and watering the hun- gry foundling, Sue made a bed of blankets on her garage ﬂoor. The pup immediately curled up and went to sleep.
Later that evening a teenage boy knocked on Sue’s door. He was looking for a missing pooch. Since his description ﬁt the puppy perfectly, Sue returned the dog and thought that would be the end
of the story.
It was just the beginning! Next evening, the female pit bull puppy was back. The poor thing looked literally “hang-dog,” as if she’d done something wrong and expected to be beaten. Once again, the young pit bull showered Sue with kisses. Sensing the dog was in trouble, Sue called local animal control for advice. After con- ﬁrming Sue’s address, they told her there had been reports of people in a nearby house raising pit bulls to ﬁght. The next day arrests were made in the case, and Sue was allowed to keep the loving puppy she named Champagne. “Champ” made instant friends with Sue’s other dogs and has grown into a gentle giant who cuddles under the covers at night and is one of the sweetest canines Sue has ever met.
How Champ knew to ﬂee that ﬁghting environment is a mys- tery. Why she sought refuge on Sue’s porch is as well. But one thing is clear: this pit bull puppy chose love—just as Sue did by taking her in. Those choices blessed them with each other and changed both their lives forever.
My friends Ruett and Rhonda also chose love. They did so in the face of wrenching tragedy. One night when their sons were small, Rhonda and the boys were at a local park where seven-year- old Evan played in sports leagues. Rhonda was about to drive oﬀ with Evan and ten-month-old Alec when gunﬁre erupted around their car. They were caught in the middle of gang violence. Both boys were hit. Alec suﬀered loss of vision from metal fragments that penetrated his eye. Evan was fatally shot. Rhonda got in the back with Evan until the paramedics beckoned her to come with them.
There are no words I could ever write that would adequately describe the excruciating pain Evan’s parents suﬀered…and still suﬀer. It is searing to lose a child under any circumstances. This was a sudden, traumatic, utterly senseless loss. Nevertheless, in the midst of their pain Rhonda and Ruett made an amazing choice.
Tales to Tug Your Heart
They knew Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. They knew that unthinkable as it might be in their human strength, God was call- ing them to forgiveness and reconciliation. They chose love over hate, forgave those involved in their son’s death, and formed the nonproﬁt Evan Leigh Foster Foundation. Its mission is to reach out to gang members with the message of God’s love and redemption. They have shared that message personally, one on one. They hope and pray that by bringing gang members to faith in the God who can heal and transform them, gang violence will lessen and other children’s lives will be spared. Their choice to love has changed their own and others’ lives eternally and made them a living illustration of Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
A ﬁrst-century martyr named Stephen would have understood their choice. He also chose to love those who caused him pain. He was seized and accused of blasphemy because he proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God. Stephen chose to aﬃrm his faith and defend it biblically. His accusers responded by ston- ing him. As he was on the brink of death, he prayed for his execu- tioners. Acts 7:60 tells us that he “fell on his knees and cried out,
‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.”
Champ the dog chose to ﬂee ﬁght training and live out her life loving both dogs and people. Rhonda and Ruett chose to reach out in love and forgive. Stephen chose to pray for those who were martyring him, even as their stones were crushing him to death. Though they all suﬀered, they did not let pain twist and embit- ter them. They chose love, and became a blessing to others. Their choices mattered, and so do ours. If we love and obey the Lord and let His love and forgiveness ﬂow through us, even in our toughest times, who knows what diﬀerence we might make?
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While
we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Have you ever chosen to love in difficult circumstances? How did it affect you and others? Are you struggling with such a choice right now? If so, is there someone you might ask to support you in prayer?