Saturday, August 25, 2012

Who is my neighbor?

Bear? Here? Yeah. 
Not this little black baby, but a big black cousin rambling up the street one night turning over trash cans and leaving deposits in the yard next door.
Last Sunday a friend from church told me she frequently spots a bruin roaming her property and sniffing her car.
“Our house backs up against open country,” she said. She’s not surprised by her visitors. Just cautious.
Here along the Arkansas River, we live in a riparian habitat. That means we’re not the only critters enjoying the water and shady cottonwoods. Deer, raccoons, skunks, Canada geese, herons, and mallards also make their homes nearby. So do more aggressive residents such as bobcats, bears and cougars.
The deer are my favorite, especially a familiar doe with her twin spotted fawns. I often see them at the Riverwalk, grazing in the deeper shade of the woods, away from the trail used by people with their dogs. People like me.
Watching the gentle threesome fills me with a sense of peace and order, knowing that God has populated his beautiful world with these beautiful creatures.

For every beast of the forest is Mine,
And the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the mountains,
And the wild beasts of the field are Mine.
                           —Psalm 50:10, 11 NKJ

If He is taking such perfect care of these occupants of his creation, won’t He do the same for us?

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

When I was a middle school teacher …

… my students would have loved this book.

Do you want to get your children, grandchildren, or neighborhood youngsters hooked on reading good books this school year? Then you’ll want to grab this great middle-grade mystery, Pineapples in Peril, by Cheryl Linn Martin

Imagine having the whole summer off in Hawaii to hang out with your friends?
For 13-year-old Leilani Akamai and her friends, Maile and Sam, the surf is up! Until Leilani does a face-plant running from her pesky brother and breaks her arm in the process.

Since there’s no more surfing for Leilani, it’s a good thing she’s a detective at heart. Someone is smashing pineapples on a farm near her home. Leilani, Maile, and Sam used to play detective when they were younger, but now this very real problem has them up to their board shorts in mystery and danger. Will they figure out who’s bashing the fruit? And will they survive?

Best friends, rivalries, teen angst, and pesky younger brothers all work together to make Pineapples in Peril a great middle-grade read. Author Cheryl Linn Martin captures the sights, smells, and heart of the islands in this fast-moving, slice-of-life story. Maybe that’s because she took in every aspect of island life during her years as a student at the University of Hawaii.

Cheryl Linn Martin
Pineapples in Peril is the first book in the Hawaiian Island Detective Club series, and already I’m eager to read the next installment. Book Two, Menehunes Missing is tentatively set to release Feb. 5, 2013, and Book  Three, Ukuleles Undercover, should arrive summer or early fall 2013.

You can preorder your copy of Pineapples in Peril on Amazon by clicking on this link.

And get to know author Cheryl Linn Martin by visiting her website at

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Does knowing the truth make a difference?

I remember the day my dad and I drove by Grandma’s house and he casually mentioned that she had friends visiting. Two sisters.

“They survived the Titanic,” he said.

At the time, I was too young to know the importance of that remark, but for some reason, I never forgot it.

Since then, I’ve often imagined going back in time to sit in one of Grandma’s white porch chairs and listen to those two women share their experiences.

Of course I’ll never make that trip, but I recently came close when I read a new release, Titanic: Legacy of Betrayal, by Kathleen Kovach and Paula Moldenhauer.

At first I expected a repeat of the 1997 movie, Titanic, but that was not the case. This e-book spanned the decades for me while keeping me firmly rooted in the present. And it fulfilled my wish to step back in time and hear a survivor’s first-hand account of the tragedy.

Of course the survivor, Olive Stanford, is a fictional creation, but she embodies the mixed motives that all of us deal with: selfishness and heroism.

Sometimes lives are built on what appears to be the truth, and such is the case with the story’s main character, Ember Keaton-Jones. But Olive Stanford knows the truth. The only problem is, that truth went down with the RMS Titanic.

Ember is on the brink of a major real estate deal when she meets a New York lawyer with a letter, a key, and a 100-year-old secret. If she dismisses his offer to peek into a safety deposit box about to be opened for the first time in a century, the contents will go to a museum. However, the contents pertain to her. She must choose between a one-time opportunity to learn the truth about her past and a career-launching leap into her future.

She cannot have both.

The tale of these fictional characters is based on detailed research of the famous tragedy of 1912, and is interspersed with true accounts of actual victims and survivors—like the preacher who gave his life vest, and ultimately his life, to a man who wasn’t “saved.”

Redemption and hope thread through this intriguing tale, and the authors have listed study questions and reference material at the end of the book for those captivated by the legacy of RMS Titanic.

How would you choose? A life-changing secret about your family, or a business deal that could secure your future?

Jesus said the truth will set us free.

Get the e-book here.

Leave a comment at my blog Davalynn Spencer. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

You really can have Olympic-size faith

Yes, that’s our son, Jake, holding the official torch for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. During our rodeo travels that summer, we met the cross-country entourage in Oregon at a mountain summit cafĂ© during breakfast. They graciously let Jake hold the torch for pictures.

This year as I watch the Summer Olympics in London, I’m amazed again by the athletes’ focused dedication and training. All of them struggle against pain and discouragement, yet they press on relentlessly toward their dreams.

What a perfect picture of our spiritual life. We, too, are called to a training regimen. (I Tim. 4:7 NIV)

Personally, I’m more inclined to cruise along thinking everything is going to work out with little effort on my part—until I run up against an athletic phrase that tells me otherwise.

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize …” (Phil 3:14 NIV).

I’m even told to exercise my faith.

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling …” (Phil. 2:12 NKJ).

That verse isn’t talking about salvation by works; it’s talking about working out—exercising, using those faith muscles to build up our spiritual strength.

Do you sense the dedication, feel the strain?

Thank God, I don’t have to do it on my own. He who created man with the incredible potential for athletic prowess has Himself promised to help me in my weakness.

“For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13 NKJ).

That sounds like a win-win to me!

A 1984 Summer Olympics torch runner in Oregon.