REVIEW: THE PERFECT FAMILY by Kathryn Shay

Mike and Maggie Davidson, parents of two sons in high school, lead-if not the perfect life-certainly one close to it.  Brian, a senior, plays on the school’s baseball team and hopes for a scholarship. Jamie, a junior, is a member of the drama club.

Of course what seems to be perfect from the outside, is -like most families-not so perfect on the inside.  Even before Jamie’s surprising announcement, Maggie and Mike were experiencing a tug-of-war rooted not so much in whether or not they should worship, but about how they worship. Mike continues to be involved in the Catholic Church, even serving on the church’s Contemporary Issues Committee. He wants his family to attend worship with him, but Maggie is pulling away from the Catholic Church. Mike, it seems, see her distancing herself from the church as her distancing herself from him as well.

With this strain as the backdrop, Jaime comes out to his mother.  As a mother, I appreciated Shay’s handling of this announcement. Maggie’s doing the laundry when Jaime tells her that the date he’ll be going on is not with a girl, but with Luke.  The startling juxtaposed with the mundane was a nice touch.

Shay ‘s characters aren’t flat talking heads for an agenda, aren’t stick figures designed to play themselves out as victims, which-honestly-would have made the writing easier! She creates a real family whose life doesn’t stop while they figure out what to do when Jaime announces that he is gay.  Mike and Maggie still struggle in their relationship with one another. Brian, as would be expected, loves his brother but is mad at Jaime for making their lives difficult. Not to mention, as the high school jock, the tormenting he’ll be subjected to by his friends.  And Mike, even while he expresses his disapproval, disappointment, and despair, is portrayed as a man and father very much in conflict. He loves his son; he loves his church. How can he and is it even possible for one to be reconciled to the other?

Since the story was set in New York, I more readily bought into Jamie and Luke holding hands in the school hallway and attending prom as a couple.  As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not sure that gay students in my school would be so courageous.

Ultimately, Shay crafts a story of a family on the brink of brokenness who find their way back through hope.  She rises about stereotypes and easy solutions, and shows us that real love means rising above our own expectations of others and  loving them right where they are.

Definitely a book I’d recommend.

You can buy The Perfect Family HERE

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160282181X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602821811

Meet MARYBETH WHALEN and her debut novel THE MAILBOX

Even at my age (over 50, less than 75), I still anticipate the arrival of the mail…the mail the post office delivers, not Google. It’s archaic and perhaps even silly because I’m old enough to know that, in addition to the useless and often shiny junk mail, I’ll find bills. Even so, there’s just something about the promise of the unexpected that intrigues me as I trot out to the end of the driveway after the mail lady has lowered our little red flag.

Naturally, before I even met her, the title of Marybeth Whalen’s book was enough for me to want to read it; the cover art made it even more appealing. It was a happy coincidence that I came to know Marybeth after I’d known her first novel was soon to be released. She and Ariel Allison, author of eye of the god, contacted me with the jaw-dropping news that Walking on Broken Glass was the April selection for She Reads. From that time until July, the three of us yammered it up on g-chat and email until I had the opportunity to meet them and experience the She Speaks Conference.

Marybeth’s debut novel uses the Kindred Spirit mailbox, a real landmark on the coast of North Carolina, almost as its own character in the novel. Of course, considering my own affection for mailboxes, I appreciated how she used this Kindred Spirit mailbox to draw both characters and the twenty years span of time together in the novel.

As a divorced and now remarried mother, I related to Lindsey’s struggles, her pain, and even her willingness to open herself to the possibility of greater pain.  Clearly, after twelve years of marriage, a divorce was not what Lindsey had envisioned for her marriage to Grant or for their two children. Her husband, however, broke their vows with his unfaithfulness, initiated the divorce, and later, transformed into a more manipulative and deceitful version of himself.

When Lindsey and her children return to Sunset Beach, to vacation in a place both familiar and memorable, the story carries us through a love story that began twenty years before and a faith that endures through disappointments and loss. Lindsey and Campbell, discover through their journeys, that the God of second chances never abandons His children.


1. Okay, spill it sister. Admit you’re a clone. A husband, six precious children (ages 18 to 5), a speaker, a writer of nonfiction and fiction…What ‘s a “typical” day in the life of Marybeth?

Typical seems to be a moving target. Every day is different and just when I get a routine down, something changes to mess it up. Take for instance school just getting out. I had a routine but then the kids got out of school and that routine is out the window! Instead I will tell you that a good day includes writing 1000 words (have found that that’s my sweet spot), going on a run, doing something fun with my kids, talking to my husband beyond just passing each other in the doorway, taming the laundry and dishes, and making dinner. Now, understand that said good day might happen once a quarter. The rest is just me surviving the chaos.

2. How/When did your involvement in Proverbs 31 begin? Your speaking ministry?

My involvement began in 1993 when the ministry was just a little home-done newsletter that we folded in a woman’s living room and sent out to people we knew. It’s certainly grown since then! When my third child was born with a severe birth defect that required a trach and g-tube in 1996, I resigned from the ministry and truly thought I’d never come back. God led me back 7 years ago and when I returned, I got involved with speaking– something else I never intended to do. I love how God surprises us with His plans!

3. What was your first nonfiction title? How many since then? What led you in this genre direction before fiction?

I have done two titles for Proverbs 31 as takeaway pieces for our She Speaks writers and speakers conference: For The Write Reason (for writers) and The Reason We Speak (for speakers). My husband and I did a book that came out last year called Learning To Live Financially Free. I started out in nonfiction because fiction felt too risky. I was afraid I wasn’t good enough and was too scared to put myself out there. I had to get over that.

6. What would most surprise the Marybeth of 20 years ago about the Marybeth of today?Goodness, a lot! That I actually did write a whole novel from beginning to end… and that it got published. That I have been married for 19 years and that we have 6 beautiful children together. That I speak regularly to groups and do not pass out– and actually enjoy it. That my love for writing wasn’t just a passing phase. Turns out it was the way God wired me and His plan for how I would uniquely impact other people for Him.

7. What is the “takeaway value” of The Mailbox for readers?

For one it’s just a good love story for those who love to lose themselves in a good love story. But beyond that it’s for any woman who has ever resisted God’s relentless love for her. She will recognize herself in Lindsey, the main character.

8. What can you share about your second novel? Release date?

I will have a new novel coming out in June of 11. It might be the sequel to The Mailbox or it might be the novel I just turned in. We shall see…

9. How is marketing fiction different from or is it the same as marketing your nonfiction?

Marketing fiction’s a little harder. With nonfiction there’s something to discuss– a specific topic about the book that you can be interviewed about via radio, tv, print articles, etc. With fiction there’s just the great love of story that has to come through and resonate with those who encounter you. I have tried to focus on the regional aspect of the book being set on the NC coast, and also to discuss some of the elements of the story— a father’s love for his daughter, teens struggling with anorexia, divorce, etc. That has helped. One thing I would say that is the same is the relationships I have formed are helpful in getting the book into people’s hands because they know me… and getting the buzz going that way.

10. What do you believe separates Christian fiction from “general” fiction? Do you think Christian fiction needs its own section in the bookstore?

I have found that people want to be warned if the book is spiritual in nature so yes, I do think it needs its own section. However, I think that if done correctly a non-Christian can enjoy a Christian fiction book just as much as a Christian. I had a Jewish woman who read The Mailbox and loved it so much she told me she was going to write to Oprah about it. 🙂 So that was such a boost to me to know that the story can touch the heart of any woman who has ever wanted to be known intimately and loved anyway. I don’t want to just write to Christians and my prayer is that non-Christians will discover God’s love for them through this book.

11. If you could write only one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

The Mailbox— it’s the book I was meant to write and if I never do another one, I will always be humbled and amazed by the experience.

12. What dream(s) do you have for yourself/your family/your writing?

Just to get published was a dream come true so I am still reveling in that! I would be really happy to see Mailbox as a movie, I must admit. As for my family, just to raise all 6 of these kids to be God-chasing adults would be the best achievement I could ever aspire to.

13. What is your idea of a “Marybeth” day?

Spent on the beach with my family, followed by a nice dinner out and a good chick flick before sleeping at least 8 hours, preferably ten.

14. Anything else???

I can be found at www.marybethwhalen.com where I blog regularly, or at www.shereads.org, where we talk about the best Christian fiction books being published. Would love to see you there!

KISS ME AGAIN: Learn how to break the bonds that sabotage your marriage

Many married women genuinely want to feel more desire toward their husbands.  But while sex before marriage was hard to resist, now resisting seems like all they do. In her new book, Barbara Wilson shows how couples can suffer for years from the “invisible bonds” of previous relationships without even knowing it. Hidden emotions of distrust, shame, and resentment can sabotage even the most loving marriage.

In Kiss Me Again, Wilson:

· Shares her own story of healing and renewed desire

· Helps women forgive themselves and their husbands for past choices

· Shows readers how to break free from “invisible bonds”

· Explains God’s plan for helping a husband and wife to re-bond

· Includes conversation helps for both wives and their husbands

· Helps couples reignite the passion that they thought was lost

With assessment tools, write-in exercises, and gentle guidance, Kiss Me Again offers a biblical plan for rekindling the closeness and passion women long for in marriage. Because no past is beyond the reach of God’s healing touch.

Barbara Wilson is the founder of Freedom Bound Communications and directs the Sexual Health Education for faith-based Alternatives  Pregnancy Center in Sacramento, California. She speaks internationally to youth and adults with her message of sexual bonding and healing. Released from a past of her own, Barbara shares her journey to healing in her book, The Invisible Bond: How to Break Free From Your Sexual Past published by Multnomah Waterbrook Press, a division of Barbara WilsonRandom House Publications. Her second book, Kiss Me Again; Restoring Lost Intimacy In Marriage, releasing in 2009 will help couples heal from their sexual pasts so they can re-bond sexually and emotionally in their marriage.

Barbara has been involved in education for the past 25 years. She has a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and a Bachelors Degree in Education from Brock University.

She is an active member of the multi-campus, Bayside Covenant Church in Granite Bay, California where she offers a bible study that leads women to God’s forgiving, healing power for past sexual sin and trauma. Barbara and her husband Eric live in Sacramento, Ca., have been married for 28 years.


THE BOOK THAT MADE AMERICA

The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation (Nordskog Publishing) by Jerry Newcombe is a definitive volume on the Christian roots of our nation. Those who want to restore knowledge of our Christian heritage have their work cut out. As secularism continues its stranglehold on American education, we move further and further away from retaining our Christian roots. The Book That Made America will challenge anyone to know the true origin of our Nation and to fight to keep it. Newcombe hopes to educate Americans by providing the facts of history, proving that America began as a Christian nation and American’s have every right to preserve and uphold that heritage.

All that is positive in our foundation can be traced back to the Scriptures. Recently, President Obama declared that America is not a Christian nation, while Newsweek announced the demise of Christian America. This book is the answer to America’s critics with the facts of history.

Fear of God

Coral Ridge Ministries is a media outreach founded by Dr. D. James Kennedy. Its programming reaches a national television, radio, and Internet audience at www.coralridge.org

A Letter from Dr. Charles Hull Wolfe
President, Plymouth Rock Foundation

Dear Christian Friend,
Recently President Barak Obama, while on a trip abroad and without giving the matter sufficient thought, casually declared that the United States is not a Christian nation. If the President had been a little more analytical, and especially if he’d read the remarkable new book you now hold in your hands, in all probability he would never have made such a statement. For page after page, from the beginning to the end, The Book that Made America by the gifted and scholarly Dr. Jerry Newcombe tells us America was born a Christian nation and has been one ever since.

This book begins by exploring America’s Christian roots with the Bible as the country’s basic textbook, the Bible’s law and covenant illustrated in the lives of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower Compact, becoming our guide to individual self-government, structured constitutionalism, and a free market. If you turn all the way back to this book’s Appendix, what do you discover? The United States Supreme Court made it official: America Is a Christian Nation!

No matter what books you now own about our Christian history, I encourage you to get this one! – for an adult Sunday School or Teen Sunday School, for your pastor, or simply for your own edification. Become a more knowledgeable Christian citizen! After you learn about the significance of the Pilgrims, come visit their home in Plymouth. — CHW

About the Author

Jerry NewcombeJerry Newcombe, D.Min., of Coral Ridge Ministries is a professional communicator whose research and media productions have been seen by millions. He has helped shape the media output of one of the most influential U.S. Protestant churches in the twentieth century.

As senior producer for Coral Ridge Ministries television Dr. Newcombe has produced or co-produced more than fifty documentaries. He is the host of two weekly radio shows. He has been a guest on numerous television and radio talk shows, including Fox News and Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. He is the author or coauthor of twenty-one books. Dr. Newcombe also holds a Master’s degree in communications from Wheaton College (1983) and a Doctor of Ministry from Knox Theological Seminary (2008). Dr. Newcombe wrote his thesis on the importance of “Preserving Our Christian Heritage” and how pastors and their congregations can pass on that heritage.

Dr. Newcombe met his wife Kirsti have two children, Annie and Eric. The Newcombes, residing in South Florida, have co-authored two books together: I’ll Do It Tomorrow and A Way of Escape.

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Meet the other Bella in the Charmed Life series by Jenny B. Jones

I first met Jenny online and, with both of us being short, high school teachers, and writers, well…would there be any doubt we’d be friends? We met at an ACFW Conference a few months later, and we discovered we have the same amusingly skewed perceptions and observations. Mostly about ourselves. And we can both exist on low quality junk food, which probably means that in hundreds of years our bodies will be so preserved will be on tour in museums. Of  course, by then, we’ll be yukking up in heaven with the Big Guy and maybe doing comedy routines for improv night.

But, in the meantime, I’m thrilled she’s writing Young Adult books because teens need to know that they’re not alone in the struggles of life at school, with parents, and with one another. They need to know that being cool is possible without sex, drugs, and anorexia.  Jenny’s characters are real kids with real issues and, just because this is Christian fiction, the solutions are not delivered in a text messsage from God or an email from one of the Heavenly Hosts.  Bella, in the Charmed Life series, is as far removed from Katie B. Parker of the In Between series as sushi is from down-home chili. Bella is a brat, prone to considering a nail chip cause for an ER visit. Then, like many teens, she’s jettisoned out of her emotional and physical creature comforts when her parents decide to jettison their relationship. So, what now? The answer to that shocks Bella and demands more from her than she’s prepared to give, especially without a VISA. And that’s where the real meaning of charm begins.

Even if you don’t read YA, do a teen a favor…buy this series. Her novels are on my bookshelf at school. And my students are so impressed that I know a REAL writer!


So Not Happening– A Charmed Life Novel- Book 1

New York’s social darling Isabella Kirkwood just woke up in a nightmare: Oklahoma.

Isabella Kirkwood had it all: popularity at a prestigious private school in Manhattan, the latest fashions, and a life of privilege and luxury.

Then her father, a plastic surgeon to the stars, decided to trade her mother in for a newer model.

When her mother starts over with her new husband, Bella is forced to pack up and leave all she knows to live with her new family in Oklahoma. Before her mother can even say “I do,” Bella’s life becomes a major “don’t.”

Can Bella survive her crazy new family? Will the school survive Bella? How can a girl go on when her charmed life is gone and God gives her the total smackdown?

I’m So Sure– A Charmed Life Novel- Book 2
Coming November, 2009!I'm So Sure by Jenny B Jones

When you’re Bella Kirkwood, normal just isn’t an option. Bella Kirkwood is finally situated in her new hometown, but she’s not ready for the whirlwind of randomness that takes place next.

When her stepdad enters a new wrestling reality show, Bella is pulled along for the ride as her life goes on display for all the world to see.

As the cameras roll, Bella must solve a prom-queen mystery, deal with her returning ex-boyfriend, and keep her cool as she works alongside the hot but irritating newspaper editor Luke Sullivan.

JENNY: as she sees herself:

I write Christian fiction with a few giggles, quite a bit of sass, and lots of crazy. My novels include the Katie Parker Production series and the upcoming book So Not Happening. I would also like to take credit for Twilight , but somewhere I think I read you’re not supposed to lie.

Author Jenny B JonesWhen I’m not typing my heart out (or checking email), I teach at a super-sized high school in Arkansas.

My students are constantly telling me how my teaching changes their lives and turned them away from drugs, gangs, and C-SPAN.

Okay, that’s not exactly true.

Some facts that are true include:

A. I got my camera confiscated by big boys with guns at the American  Embassy in Europe this past summer. O la la!

B. I once worked in a seed mill office and cleaned out mice on a regular basis. Ew.

C. I’m a former drama teacher.

D. I didn’t pass my drivers test the first time. Or the second…
E. I attract stray animals like a magnet.
F. I used to assemble and test paint ball guns for a local factory.

Since my current job leaves me with very little free time, I believe in spending my spare hours in meaningful, intellectual pursuits such as:

  • watching E!
  • updating my status on Facebook
  • catching Will Ferrell on YouTube and
  • writing my name in the dust on my furniture


..

Romance, knitting, and Southern women…summer reads from Multnomah

The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper

by Kathleen Y’Barbo

The future is clearly mapped out for New York socialite Eugenia “Gennie” Cooper, but she secretly longs to slip into the boots of her favorite dime-novel heroine and experience just one adventure before settling down. When the opportunity arises, Gennie jumps at the chance to experience the Wild West, but her plans go awry when she is drawn into the lives of silver baron Daniel Beck and his daughter and finds herself caring for them more than is prudent–especially as she’s supposed to go back to New York and marry another man.

As Gennie adapts to the rough-and-tumble world of 1880s Colorado, she must decide whether her future lies with the enigmatic Daniel Beck or back home with the life planned for her since birth. The question is whether Daniel’s past–and disgruntled miners bent on revenge–will take that choice away from her.

Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty novels, novellas, and young adult books, with more than a half-million in print. A graduate of Texas A&M University, she is currently a publicist with Books & Such literary agency.

The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love

by Beth Pattillo

Once a month, the six women of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society gather to discuss books and share their knitting projects. Inspired by her recently-wedded bliss, group leader Eugenie chooses “Great Love Stories in Literature” as the theme for the year’s reading list–a risky selection for a group whose members span the spectrum of age and relationship status.

As the Knit Lit ladies read and discus classic romances like Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, and Pride and Prejudice, each member is confronted with her own perception about love. Camille’s unexpected reunion with an old crush forces her to confront conflicting desires.

Newly widowed Esther finds her role in Sweetgum changing and is surprised by two unlikely friends. Hannah isn’t sure she’s ready for the trials of first love. Newcomer Maria finds her life turned upside-down by increasing family obligations and a handsome, arrogant lawyer, and Eugenie and Merry are both asked to make sacrifices for their husbands that challenge their principles.

Even in a sleepy, southern town like Sweetgum, Tennessee, love isn’t easy. The Knit Lit ladies learn they can find strength and guidance in the novels they read, the love of their family, their community–and especially in each other.

RITA Award-winning Beth Patillo combines her love of knitting and books in her engaging Sweetgum series. Pattillo served churches in Missouri and Tennessee before founding Faith Leader, a spiritual leadership development program.


Rose House

by Tina Ann Forkner

A vivid story of a private grief, a secret painting, and one woman’s search for hope.
Still mourning the loss of her family in a tragic accident, Lillian Diamon finds herself drawn back to the Rose House, a quiet cottage where four years earlier she had poured out her anguish among its fragrant blossoms.

She returns to the rolling hills and lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley in search of something she can’t quite name. But then Lillian stumbles onto an unexpected discovery: displayed in the La Rosaleda Gallery is a painting that captures every detail of her most private moment of misery, from the sorrow etched across her face to the sandals on her feet.

What kind of artist would dare to intrude on such a personal scene, and how did he happen to witness Lillian’s pain? As the mystery surrounding the portrait becomes entangled with the accident that claimed the lives of her husband and children, Lillian is forced to rethink her assumptions about what really happened that day.

A captivating novel rich with detail, Rose House explores how the brushstrokes of pain can illuminate the true beauty of life.

Tina Ann Forkner is the author of Ruby Among Us. Originally from Oklahoma, she now lives with her husband and three children in Wyoming, where she serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation’s board of directors.





When Someone You Love Has Cancer

Note from Christa: I wish I would have had this book when my mother died of brain cancer at the age of 58, my father died of lymphoma at the age of 66, my friend Todd of cancer of the esophagus at age 24, Don of a brain tumor at the age of 58…

Cec’s book is not one of those gift books with generic landscape watercolors and unsatisfying platitudes that you give to people when you have no idea what to say or do. His book is beautifully illustrated by Michael Sparks, and it’s honestly and thoughtfully written by Cec to minister to those who need to minister to their loved ones. There’s an appendix with practical tips for the now and the later.

This book will be a blessing to those who need its comfort.

A Word from The Man Behind the Words by Cecil Murphey
When Shirley walked in from the garage, she didn’t have to say a word: I read the diagnosis in her eyes. I grabbed her and held her tightly for several seconds. When I released her, she didn’t cry. The unshed tears glistened, but that was all.

I felt emotionally paralyzed and helpless, and I couldn’t understand my reaction. After all, I was a professional. As a former pastor and volunteer hospital chaplain I had been around many cancer patients. I’d seen people at their lowest and most vulnerable. As a writing instructor, I helped one woman write her cancer-survival book. Shirley and I had been caregivers for Shirley’s older sister for months before she died of colon cancer.

All of that happened before cancer became personal to me–before my wife learned she needed a mastectomy. To make it worse, Shirley was in the high-risk category because most of her blood relatives had died of some form of cancer. Years earlier, she had jokingly said, “In our family we grow things.”

In the days after the diagnosis and before her surgery, I went to a local bookstore and to the public library. I found dozens of accounts, usually by women, about their battle and survival. I pushed aside the novels that ended in a person’s death. A few books contained medical or technical information. I searched on-line and garnered useful information–but I found nothing that spoke to me on how to cope with the possible loss of the person I loved most in this world.

Our story ends happily: Shirley has started her tenth year as a cancer survivor. Not only am I grateful, but I remember my pain and confusion during those days. That concerns me enough to reach out to others who also feel helpless as they watch a loved one face the serious diagnosis of cancer.

That’s why I wrote When Someone You Love Has Cancer. I want to encourage relatives and friends and also to offer practical suggestions as they stay at the side of those they love.

The appendix offers specific things for them to do and not to do–and much of that information came about because of the way people reacted around us.

It’s a terrible situation for anyone to have cancer; it’s a heavy burden for us who deeply love those with cancer.

The World Health Organization reported that by the year 2010 cancer will be the number one killer worldwide. More than 12.4 million people in the world suffer from cancer. 7.6 million people are expected to die from some form of cancer. That’s a lot of people, but the number of loved ones of cancer sufferers is far greater. What do they do when a special person in their life is diagnosed with this devastating disease?

Murphey brings his experiences as a loved one and many years of wisdom gained from being a pastor and hospital chaplain to his newest book When Someone You Love Has Cancer: Comfort and Encouragement for Caregivers and Loved Ones (Harvest House Publishers). His honest I’ve-been-there admissions and practical helps are combined with artist Michal Sparks’ soothing watercolor paintings.

Readers of When Someone You Love Has Cancer will receive:

  • Inspiration to seek peace and understanding in their loved one’s situation
  • Help in learning the importance of active listening
  • Guidance in exploring their own feelings of confusion and unrest
  • Suggestions on how to handle anxiety and apprehension
  • Honest answers to questions dealing with emotions, exhaustion, and helplessness
  • Spirit-lifting thoughts for celebrating the gift of life in the midst of troubles

Murphey explains why this is a much-needed book: “Most books about cancer address survivors. I want to speak to the mates, families, and friends who love those with cancer.  I offer a number of simple, practical things people can do for those with cancer.”

Interview Questions

1.    The first sentence of your book reads, “I felt helpless.” Tell us about that feeling.

Because her doctor put Shirley into the high-risk category, I felt helpless. To me, helpless means hating the situation, wanting to make it better, but admitting there was nothing I could do for her.

2.     On that same page you also write, “One thing we learned: God was with us and strengthened us through the many weeks of uncertainty and pain.”  How did you get from feeling helpless to that assurance?

Shirley and I sat down one day and I put my arm around her. “The only way I know how I can handle this,” I said, “is to talk about it.” Shirley knows that’s my way of working through puzzling issues. “Let’s consider every possibility.” If her surgeon decided she did not have breast cancer, how would we react? We talked of our reaction if he said, “There is a tumor and it’s obviously benign. Finally, I was able to say, with tears in my eyes, “How do we react if he says the cancer is advanced and you have only a short time to live?” By the time we talked answered that question, I was crying. Shirley had tears in her eyes, but remained quite calm. “I’m ready to go whenever God wants to take me,” she said. She is too honest not to have meant those words. As I searched her face, I saw calmness and peace. I held her tightly and we prayed together. After that I felt calm. Since then, one of the first things I do when I awaken is to thank God that Shirley and I have at least one more day together.

3.     When most people hear the word cancer applied to someone they love, they have strong emotional reactions. What are some of them? What was your reaction when your wife was diagnosed with breast cancer?

As a pastor, a volunteer chaplain, and a friend I’ve encountered virtually every emotional reaction. Some refuse to accept what they hear. Some go inward and are unable to talk. Others start making telephone calls to talk to friends.

Me? I went numb, absolutely numb. That was my old way of dealing with overwhelming emotions. I heard everything but I couldn’t feel anything. It took me almost two weeks before I was able to feel–and to face the possibility that the person I loved most in the world might die.

4. “What can I do for my loved one with cancer?” That’s a good question for us to ask ourselves. How can we be supportive and helpful?

Many think they need to do big things; they don’t. Express your concern and your love.

Be available to talk when the other person needs it–and be even more willing to be silent if your loved one doesn’t want to talk. Don’t ask what you can do; do what you see needs doing. To express loving support in your own way (and we all express love differently) is the best gift you can offer.

5.    Why do you urge people not to say, “I know exactly how you feel”?

No one knows how you feel. They may remember how they felt at a certain time. Even if they did know, what help is that to the person with cancer? It’s like saying, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself. I know what it’s like and I’m fine now.”

Instead, focus on how the loved one feels. Let him or her tell you.

6.   Those with cancer suffer physically and spiritually. You mention God’s silence as a form of spiritual suffering. They pray and don’t seem to sense God. What can you do to help them?

God is sometimes silent but that doesn’t mean God is absent. In my upcoming book, When God Turns off the Lights, I tell what it was like for me when God stopped communicating for about 18 months.

I didn’t like it and I was angry. I didn’t doubt God’s existence, but I didn’t understand the silence. I read Psalms and Lamentations in various translations. I prayed and I did everything I could, but nothing changed.

After a couple of months, I realized that I needed to accept the situation and wait for God to turn on the lights again. Each day I quoted Psalm 13:1: “O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?” (NLT)

I learned many invaluable lessons about myself–and I could have learned them only in the darkness. When God turns off the lights (and the sounds) I finally realized that instead of God being angry, it was God’s loving way to draw me closer.

7.     Guilt troubles many friends and loved ones of caregivers because they feel they failed or didn’t do enough. What can you say to help them?

We probably fail our loved ones in some ways. No one is perfect. If you feel that kind of guilt, I suggest 3 things:

(1) Tell the loved one and ask forgiveness.

(2) Talk to God and ask God to forgive you and give you strength not to repeat your failures.

(3) Forgive yourself. And one way to do that is to say, “At the time, I thought I did the right thing. I was wrong and I forgive myself.”

8.    Do you have some final words of wisdom for those giving care to a loved one with cancer?

Be available. You can’t take away the cancer but you can alleviate the sense of aloneness. Don’t ever try to explain the reason the person has cancer. We don’t know the reason and even if we did, would it really help the other person?

Be careful about what you say. Too often visitors and friends speak from their own discomfort and forget about the pain of the one with cancer. Don’t tell them about your cancer or other disease; don’t tell them horror stories about others. Above all, don’t give them false words of comfort. Be natural. Be yourself. Behave as loving as you can.


About the Author: Cecil Murphey is an international speaker and bestselling author who has written more than 100 books, including the New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper). No stranger himself to loss and grieving, Cecil has served as a pastor and hospital chaplain for many years, and through his ministry and books he has brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world. For more information, visit http://www.themanbehindthewords.com/.

Something Extra!


Cec designed the appendix to be the most practical part of the book. He’s witnessed too many situations where genuinely caring people had no idea what to do, so he has tried to givea few general guidelines.

1. Before you offer help. Learn about the disease before you visit. Determine to accept their feelings, no matter how negative. Pray for your loved one before you visit. Don’t throw religious slogans at them, such as, “This is God’s will” or “God knew you were strong enough to handle this.”

2. What you can do now. As the first question, don’t ask, “How are you?” Instead, ask, “Do you feel like talking.” Don’t offer advice. Be willing to sit in silence. If you need to cry, do so. Be natural. If appropriate, hug your loved one. Human touch is powerful.

3. Long-term caregiving. The overarching principle is to let the seriousness of the disease determine the amount of time and commitment you offer. This can be a time for you to help them spiritually. Think about tangible things you can do that say you care. Plan celebrations for every anniversary of being cancer free.

Ask them reflective questions such as:

  • What have you discovered about yourself through this experience?
  • What have you learned about relationships?
  • How has your faith in God changed?




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When Someone You Love Has Cancer
90 Minutes in Heaven (hard cover)
Heaven Is Real (hard cover)
Daily Devotions Inspired by 90 Minutes in Heaven (hard cover)
90 Minutes in Heaven, gift edition (selections)
90 Minutes in Heaven, audio (5 CD set)
Heaven Is Real, audio (6 CDs)
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
Think Big
Everybody Loved Roger Harden
Everybody Wanted Room 623
Everybody Called Her a Saint
Committed But Flawed
Immortality of Influence (hard cover)
Touchdown Alexander (hard cover)
Aging Is an Attitude
My Parents, My Children: Spiritual Help for Caregivers