Monday, April 28, 2014

SHRED Pop Popcorn Review


Developed by Dr. Ian Smith, the author of New York Times bestselling diet books, SHRED and Super SHRED, SHRED Pop is an irresistibly guilt-free snack. And, at only 100 calories a bag, flavors like Honey BBQ, Sea Salt, Kettle and White Cheddar will help you curb your craving without ruining your diet.
“Snacks are great, but they must be done properly. Remember that snacks are bridges between meals and not meals in and of themselves. Try to keep your snacks to 150 calories or less, and this will help you from consuming too many calories when you sit down for your regular meal,” explains Smith.
SHRED Pop is only made with non-GMO corn and all flavors are gluten-free. With zero cholesterol and no MSG, you can be sure that SHRED Pop is as good for you as it is delicious. Additionally, all flavors except for White Cheddar are vegan

Dr. Ian Smith is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of SUPER SHRED, SHRED, The 4 Day Diet, The Fat Smash Diet and The Extreme Fat Smash Diet. He is also a co-host of “The Doctors” TV show, a medical contributor to “The Rachael Ray Show” and host of the nationally syndicated radio show HealthWatch. Dr. Smith was appointed to President Obama's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition in 2010 and is currently serving a second term. He is a graduate of Harvard, Columbia and the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

SHRED Pop popcorn  comes in Honey BBQ, Sea Salt, Kettle & White Cheddar flavors

I received complimentary product.
 Cassandra's Review- The packages are snack size small. 
 I was sent these two flavors and bags.
 Ok so we start with the White Cheddar Flavor. This is the size of the kernel. It has a taste of chives or something in it that I can not place. The product kinda fakes you out a bit thinking your going to get a blast of flavor and then it just mellows in your mouth. It is a very good taste and product.
 Here is a look into one of the bags. 
The Sea Salt has no flavor to me its like puffed wheat if you remember that old fashioned cereal.  Yes it is healthy for you and it is a good in that is does taste like plain popcorn. I would expect that this is the original flavor, but like I said this is what I was given to review.  


Clearblue Celebrates Sweepstakes


Clearblue
Enter for a chance to win $5,000 (brought to you by Clearblue)

- Entry on Facebook: Anyone can submit photos or videos of their pregnancy announcement to the Clearblue Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/clearblue/), as well as access the tab on mobile via www.ClearblueConfirmed.com to be entered into the Clearblue Celebrates Sweepstakes

- Entry on Twitter & Instagram: Anyone can also submit photos and videos on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ClearblueSweepsEntry will populate to the Clearblue Facebook page

- Sweepstakes runs from (April 17 - May 22)

I will receive compensation for this post.

Tunecore #ad

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TuneCore is the premier digital music distributor and publishing administrator for musicians worldwide. I was asked to help get the word out about their new Choose Independence compilation album so if you would like to take part or know some one who does click the link above and let me know how it goes!


"This post was created in partnership with eAccountable. All opinions are my own."

Personalized Retro Viewfinder Giveaway

giveaway
 
Thank you for being a part of the
Prize six is from Image3D and they are giving away a Personalized Retro Viewfinder
Read the review by A Small Village here, about how she created her viewfinder to include her six kids with text that pops out at you.
Enter below for your chance to win!
April 28 – May 11th
A Small Village received this item in exchange for a review. No participating bloggers are responsible for prize fulfillment.

HP Pavilion 11t-n000 x360 PC (ENERGY STAR) Giveaway



- One winner will receive an HP Pavilion 11t-n000 x360 PC (ENERGY STAR)

- $409.99 Value

- Giveaway will begin on Monday (4/28) at 9:30 AM EST and is scheduled to end on Wednesday (4/30/14) at 9:00 PM EST. ***Due to a limited amount of submissions, the giveaway may end sooner.

- Applicants only need to submit their email address to enter.

- The winner will be chosen via a lottery drawing on Thursday (5/1/14) and will receive the prize within 90 days of the drawing.

cover reveal for Carnival by K.B and Giveaway


Carnival by K.B. Nelson
Publication date: June 2014
Genres: New Adult, Romance

Synopsis:
Blue’s a carny and he’s got molly. Charlie’s a local and she’s got ninety-nine problems but Blue ain’t one. Enter the world of neon lights….
Charlie never intended to sleep with a perfect stranger at the county fair. Finding out he was a carny was like winning the bonus round of the worlds worst game. Blue grew up in the carnival, never staying anywhere long enough to call home. He didn’t mean to seduce Charlie that night, but he’s use to living life on the edge.

Charlie’s supposed to be packing her bags for college. Blue’s supposed to get in his jeep and drive to the next town. She’s ready to leave for a life she’s not certain she wants and he’s searching for a place to call home.

Unable to resist him, Charlie makes the choice to stay. She follows Blue down the rabbit hole; into a world with no regard for rules and consequences. But when tragedy strikes, will it send her and Blue down a more destructive path? Or will it bring them closer together? Either way, they both come to realize that life is just like a carnival ride.


Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21453236-carnival?ac=1


----

AUTHOR BIO
I grew up on a farm in Ohio, but that's not very interesting, is it? When I'm not writing you can find me doing one of two things; getting lost on highways or getting lost in the lives of fictional characters. If my heart had two feet, one foot would be in romance and the other solidly in geekdom. I hope you'll all follow me on my journey through this carnival they call life.I promise there will be a happy ending. 

Author links: 

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Mother's Day Jewelry Giveaway

Welcome to the Mother's Day Jewelry Giveaway

Hosted By: Uniform Mom
Sponsored by: Watermelan Designs

Jewelry from Watermelan Designs is handcrafted with carefully selected, high quality materials. The pieces reflect the sophisticated, yet playful nature of the designer. The current collection is skillfully crafted to feature beautiful stones and unique clasps that beg to be displayed rather than hidden in the back. Some of her most popular pieces include a hint of a contrasting color used in just the right way. Moms everywhere recognize that this piece didn't come from some box store - Jewelry from Watermelan Designs is special.

One winner will receive the double strand turquoise necklace with a rhinestone clasp and yellow accents. (ARV $75, see photo.)

The event is open from 4/28/14 through 5/12/14 12:00 AM ET. Open to US Residents only.  The winner will be chosen at random and will be notified via the email they used to enter the contest. If after 48 hours, there is no response, another winner will be chosen. Uniform Mom is not responsible for fulfillment of the prize. Open to US residents, 18+ only.

To enter for your chance to win the Mother's Day Jewelry Giveaway, simply use the form below. Good Luck!


Disclosure: Uniform Mom, the organizer, was not provided compensation to organize this giveaway. Uniform Mom is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment. Please contact Uniform Mom with questions or to see your business or product featured on the next event! This giveaway is no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

(Photo used with permission from Watermelan Designs.)

Destruction by Sharon Bayliss Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway


Destruction
The December People Series 
Book One
Sharon Bayliss
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Publication: 4/14/14
ISBN 978-1-62007-498-5 ebook 
ISBN 978-1-62007-499-2 paperback
ISBN 978-1-62007-500-5 hardcover
ASIN: Not yet assigned
Number of pages: 249
Word Count: 79,444
Cover Artist: Michelle Johnson

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without. Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children. Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.

David pulled the box of Crystal's ashes out of his jacket. He lay down on the uneven sofa bed mattress in his office. He held Crystal to his chest. If anyone walked in, he would get caught cuddling with a dead woman. Especially abhorrent, since he should be trying to save his marriage with his living one. He closed his eyes and felt her weight on his chest. She moved up and down as he breathed. He felt better."You believed in ghosts," he said. "Couldn't you be one for a minute? Come back to me. Tell me what to do."Like a child, he waited, as if she really might appear there. He watched the ceiling fan spin in a mundane, non-magical way. The clock ticked. The computer whirred. It did work…sort of. He fell asleep and dreamed about her. For some unknowable reason, his subconscious put her at The Galleria, a place she had never set foot and would never want to. She waited for him in front of the ice rink with the domed glass ceiling. She leaned against the railing and watched him approach her with one of her patented poker faces. But, as she watched him approach, the edges of her lips turned upward ever so slightly and her eyes opened a little wider.
"I'm sorry, Crystal."She stared at him."I know it doesn't help, but I still love you. You saved my marriage by cutting me out. I wouldn't have been able to stay away from you forever."She still said nothing, but gave a long, slow blink, like an acknowledgement."Our children are really amazing. They're beautiful. I'm glad I get to know them Another blink. A longer one."Why won't you speak to me?"Her eyes gazed downward, then back up. She looked like a statue that could move only her eyes. He moved close to her. He feared touching her, as he feared to touch their children, afraid anything he did could hurt her. He touched his forehead to hers. The contact animated her slightly. He heard her breathe."Evangeline drew me a picture of your wings. Can I see them?"He pulled back from her and waited. At first, he thought nothing would happen, but then she pulled her tank top over her head. She pulled her shoulders back and raised her chin, as if she wanted him to know she had no shame in showing her naked breasts. Then it happened. Two massive black wings spread out behind her, twice her height. Her wingspan rivaled a California condor's. He reached his hands out to them."May I?"An infinitesimal nod. He ran his fingers across the smooth feathers. They weren't black. Not really. Each feather had the sheen of a different color. Blue. Red. Orange. Green. Yellow. Violet. The feathers fell around his fingers like water. She was gone.

Book Trailer: http://animoto.com/play/xvVcJSOr0M8Gt0VKhjI0cA
Sharon Bayliss
Sharon Bayliss is the author of The December People Series and The Charge. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living happily-ever-after with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening).
Giveaway

5 paperback copies of Destruction (open to US, UK, and Canada)

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Blood Magic Book Blitz and Amethyst necklace Giveaway


 Blood Magic by T.G. Ayer 
(SoulTracker #1)
Publication date: April 28th 2014
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy

Synopsis:
My name is Mel Morgan and I’m a Tracker. I find people for a living. The people I help have no idea I know exactly how they feel because I’ve lost someone too. If only I could have found the one person I’ve been looking for all these years.

My current case is no ordinary abduction. Before long I’m neck deep in blood magic – the worst kind. I need the help of a necromancer if I’m to free the kid. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

When sexy djinn Saleem asks for help things get a little hot to handle. But how can I say know? Dodging demons and sorcerers are just part of my day job.

Purchase:

Missing people can be found. Not all missing people are found.

I was good, maybe even the best I knew of. I find people for a living. My business is 

dependent on people losing people. The idea didn't sit so well with me but it was what it was. 

Not that I needed to find people for a living. I could very well choose to find things. Finding 

cutting edge nuclear warheads stolen from the government, locating lists of undercover cops 

within drug cartels – I can do that. Do the job, find the target, no questions asked. But things 

held no interest for me. People did.

I find people. And I didn't play to lose.
 I have been a writer from the time I was old enough to recognise that reading was a doorway into my imagination. Poetry was my first foray into the art of the written word. Books were my best friends, my escape, my haven. I am essentially a recluse but this part of my personality is impossible to practise given I have two teenage daughters, who are actually my friends, my tea-makers, my confidantes… I am blessed with a husband who has left me for golf. It’s a fair trade as I have left him for writing. We are both passionate supporters of each other's loves – it works wonderfully…

My heart is currently broken in two. One half resides in South Africa where my old roots still remain, and my heart still longs for the endless beaches and the smell of moist soil after a summer downpour. My love for Ma Afrika will never fade. The other half of me has been transplanted to the Land of the Long White Cloud. The land of the Taniwha, beautiful Maraes, and volcanoes. The land of green, pure beauty that truly inspires. And because I am so torn between these two lands – I shall forever remain cross-eyed.


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Prejudice meets Pride Book Blast and Giveaway

  Prejudice Meets Pride by Rachael Anderson Book Cover

Prejudice Meets Pride by Rachael Anderson
After years of pinching pennies and struggling to get through art school, Emma Makie’s hard work finally pays off with the offer of a dream job. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to make a cross-country move to Colorado Springs to take temporary custody of her two nieces. She has no money, no job prospects, and no idea how to be a mother to two little girls, but she isn’t about to let that stop her. Nor is she about to accept the help of Kevin Grantham, her handsome new neighbor, who seems to think she’s incapable of doing anything on her own.
Fun, compelling, and romantic, Prejudice Meets Pride is the story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn't afraid to show him that he doesn't. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with. Sometimes, love picks them.
Coming Soon...
Coming Next in the Meet Your Match Series
 
Rachael

Author Rachael Anderson A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.
book blast button       Blast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 5/25/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Brooklyn Bean Roastery Giveaway

 
Prize 2 is a Huge Box of 40 cups of coffee in 16 different flavors!
To see all the Prizes Click Here.
Sponsored by Brooklyn Bean Roastery
Hosted by A Small Village
Decisions, decisions. This morning are you in the mood for some pizzazz or chill? Do you crave some bold slap you in the face flavor, or mild taste? Brooklyn Bean Roastery says who cares... have them all! Our 40 Count Brooklyn Bean Roastery Sampler Pack includes four samples of the following light, medium and dark roast blends: breakfast blend, boardwalk blend, brooklyn Bridge, Comlumbian, Cyclone, Donut Shop, Fugheddaboutit and French Roast. - Brooklyn Bean Roastery giveaway
 
Add your Mother's Day Giveaway Links below!

This linky list is not open yet. It will open for new entries in 5 days, 20 hrs, 31 min (4/28/2014 12:01 AM North America - Central Standard Time)
 

Lost & Found Blog Tour and Giveaway



















Lost and Found by Karey White Lydia was supposed to have an adventurous and exciting summer. Instead she's done nothing more than read and eat takeout. Now it's time to go home, and what does she have to show for it? A big fat nothing. Unless, of course, her trip to the airport somehow turns into something more than just a flight home. Blake feels like he's been sent on a wild goose chase. While work is piling up back in Denver, he's on the other side of the country, hunting for some mysterious box that his grandfather left him. Well, no more. Nothing inside that box could possibly be more important than the opportunity to make it as the youngest partner at his firm. So he's going home, and that's that. But that's before he discovers his flight has been cancelled. When these two strangers meet at the airport, they make a split-second decision to search for the box together. Maybe with both of them on the hunt, Lydia can have her adventure and Blake can find the box. And maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll even find some romance.

  Karey


Author Karey White Karey is a USA Today best-selling author. She grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist. She loves to travel, read, cook, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four wonderful children.  



  Updated Ripple Effect


The Ripple Effect Romance Novella Series Enjoy this exciting new series of clean novellas by six critically-acclaimed authors. "Like a pebble tossed into calm water, a simple act can ripple outward and have a far-reaching effect on those we meet, perhaps setting a life on a different course—one filled with excitement, adventure, and sometimes even love." Book 1: Home Matters by Julie N. Ford Book 2: Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin Book 3: Righting A Wrong by Rachael Anderson Book 4: Lost and Found by Karey White Book 5: Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver Book 6: Immersed by Jennifer Griffith
Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 5/12/14 a Rafflecopter giveaway
When Lydia approached her seat a few minutes later, an airport security officer with a shiny face and a little paunch was standing in the aisle by her suitcase.
“Is this your bag?” he asked.
“Yes. Is everything okay?” Why hadn’t she paid attention to the voice in her head?
“It appeared to be left unattended. In the future, I’d advise you to either take your bag with you or move it closer to your boyfriend when you leave.”
Lydia shot a surprised glance at the movie star, and he shrugged. “Sorry, babe. I told him you’d be right back, and I offered to move your bag over by me, but he wanted me to wait for you to come back.”
Lydia almost choked. She knew he was just rescuing her from the security guard, but no one had ever, ever called Lydia “babe” before and certainly no one as handsome as Ryan Gosling. It had a wonderful ring to it. Was her racing heart because of being questioned by an officer of the law or because this man had just called her “babe?”
Lydia dragged her distracted gaze back to the much less interesting man standing by her bag. “I’m so sorry. I just had to make a little run to the ladies’ room. It won’t happen again.”
“See that it doesn’t. Airport security is no laughing matter.” Was she laughing? “Have a nice flight.”
Lydia sat down by her bag. “You should probably move over here by me since you’re my girlfriend. We don’t want to make him suspicious.”
“Oh. Of course. I should have thought of that.” Did the movie star want Lydia to sit by him? Lydia rolled her eyes at her silliness. He was just trying to keep from being hassled any further. He went back to working on his laptop as she moved her things across the aisle. “Sorry about that,” Lydia whispered.
“No problem.” He looked up from his computer and smiled. Oh. My. Wow! Up close his dimple was even cuter. The bigger the smile, the deeper the dimple. “Are you taking a trip to Denver?” he asked.
Bio
Karey is a USA Today best-selling author. She grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist.
She loves to travel, read, cook, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four wonderful children.
Blurb:
Lydia was supposed to have an adventurous and exciting summer. Instead she's done nothing more than read and eat takeout. Now it's time to go home, and what does she have to show for it? A big fat nothing. Unless, of course, her trip to the airport somehow turns into something more than just a flight home.

Blake feels like he's been sent on a wild goose chase. While work is piling up back in Denver, he's on the other side of the country, hunting for some mysterious box that his grandfather left him. Well, no more. Nothing inside that box could possibly be more important than the opportunity to make it as the youngest partner at his firm. So he's going home, and that's that. But that's before he discovers his flight has been cancelled.

When these two strangers meet at the airport, they make a split-second decision to search for the box together. Maybe with both of them on the hunt, Lydia can have her adventure and Blake can find the box. And maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll even find some romance.


Among Friends Blog Tour and Giveaway

Among Friends Tour
Among Friends: Stories from the JourneyAmong Friends Cover “This book is my Midrash.” With these words, Father Jim draws us into his life story full of laughter, tears, and service. Among Friends is a compilation of short stories and insightful lessons experienced on his many travels as a clergyman and motivational speaker. Whether recounting his sobering flying experiences, meeting the Pope, his encounter with the “Weed Man” or telling us about his “lead foot,” Father Jim teaches us lessons through powerful storytelling. As he takes us along on his journey from getting kicked out of seminary to hosting celebrities, such as Dolly Parton, Harry Connick Jr., Martin Short, Bill Cosby, and former First Lady Laura Bush, at his small Kentucky parish, Father Jim shines a light into the corners of the human heart to expose our need for God and the love He alone can give us. You will laugh, cry, and be taken back by his honesty. In all, Father Jim shows us what it means to love God, love others, and live life Among Friends.
jimFather Jim W. Sichko Father Jim W. Sichko is a priest of the Diocese of Lexington, KY. He was ordained to the Ministerial Priesthood of Jesus Christ on May 23, 1998. He travels throughout the U.S. giving missions, retreats, and days of recollection. Known for his storytelling, Father Jim weaves everyday life experiences with the rooted messages which lie within the Gospel. He is booked for speaking engagements through 2015. Each engagement lasts a minimum of three days and averages 3,000 people per night. Father Jim completed his undergraduate work at New England Conservatory of Music in Vocal Performance and received a Master of Divinity degree from Sacred Heart School of Theology.
Blog Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 5/15/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Foreword
It has been several years ago now that I received a rather peculiar
donation to our foundation along with a note left at the hostess stand
at my restaurant, August, familiarly written by a Father Jim, whom I
didn’t recall ever having met. The note, more or less a modern-day
epistle, explained how he had been on a mission trip to my home
town and had subsequently profited from his preaching and wanted
to donate it to a great cause in the New Orleans area, where he had
attended our Notre Dame Seminary. The epistle reminded me that we
are all called to be stewards of our gifts. What struck me as impressive
was that Father Jim, a priest who constantly gives of his time, energy,
and talents, did, in fact, feel obliged to share his meager wages among
the community that he was evangelizing.
Admittedly poor with names, I began exploring my mental Rolodex
of priestly friends, and, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember ever
meeting a Father Jim. Without a business card or much of any contact
information other than what was on the Richmond, Kentucky, bank
check, I had no clue as to who this generous fellow was. Before I had
the chance to draft a proper thank-you, I spoke with my mother, Imelda,
as I do every morning. She began recalling uplifting and entertaining
stories of this Father Jim, a former thespian and opera singer, whom
she had heard at a Lenten workshop given by my very own St. Luke
the Evangelist Parish. She went on to tell me that, as this week-long
retreat progressed, Father Jim would entertain the congregation with
recounting each and every course of food he had dined on at several
of our restaurants — along with the interactions between him and my
staff — while in town. Using these seemingly everyday occurrences, he
conveyed the teachings and lessons of Christ that are alive and everpresent
in all of our lives. Though Imelda and I visit every day, and
spirituality is often a favored topic, I’ve never heard Mother so enthused
— or, for that matter, entertained — by a guest speaker at church.
As it turns out, Father Jim and I would eventually meet and
become great friends, not through the obvious church connection but,
rather, through food. By breaking bread at both my family table and
his, I have been blessed to share a sacred bond with him, his family,
and his adoptive family in Kentucky. This dynamic and entertaining
teacher, even while at a table among friends, has a way not only of
challenging us to be the Christians that we are called to be but also
of comforting us with the love of God — knowing that, although none
of us are perfect, we are loved by the ever-so-merciful Father. I am
fortunate to know this man who, through the everyday comedy of his
life, brings us closer to the spiritual realities of every story in our lives
and the way we are called to address them.

John Besh
Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur

The Beginning…
´
Ancient Jewish Rabbis put together books called “Midrash.” These
books consisted of stories, reflections, and speculations on the Hebrew
Bible (or Old Testament for Christians). The teachers wanted people
to read these stories and reflect on them to find deeper meaning in
God’s word.
This book is my Midrash. In addition to being a priest for fifteen
years, I’ve traveled all over the world. I’ve preached to many different
cultures and people. I’ve learned to say prayers in different languages.
Although I can’t claim the wisdom of the ancient Jewish sages, I’ve
learned a lot through my own mistakes and crazy experiences.
Along the way, I’ve met a lot of people (especially Highway
State Troopers), and listened to their stories. I’ve included their
tales, my experiences, and God’s word in my talks. People seem to
love them and I love seeing their reactions. I love moving people
to tears, laughter, and watching them embrace a deep sense of
joy found in God. Somehow, He uses my life to transform people
and help them find His Good News in the person of Jesus Christ.
Really, what more could I want?
For many years, people kept telling me I needed to write a book
and put all my stories in one place. Finally, I broke down, opened my
computer, and hammered it out. I discovered a newfound admiration
for those who can turn a phrase on the printed page. As I sat at my
desk, sweating, drinking vast amounts of water and looking at a
dictionary, I realized God didn’t call me to be a writer. I’m a preacher,
and I admire people who can string words together and make sense.
Still, as you hold this book in your hand – via old-fashioned print
or a new-world e-reader or tablet – you know I made it through alive.
As I learned in every part of life and ministry, no goal is ever
accomplished alone. This book, Among Friends, is a product of hard
work with my own personal scribes, Chas Allen and Jonathan Ryan,
both authors and fantastic writers in their own right.
Believe it or not, I taught Chas in ninth grade at a Catholic high
school. Years later, our paths crossed again when Chas got involved
in an art heist. One of the largest art thefts in history, Chas found
himself on international news outlets, and I recognized him as a
former student.
Although I prayed for him on a daily basis, I couldn’t visit him
during his six-year sentence in federal prison. He told me later about
the isolation, embarrassment, and humiliation. Still, he drew closer to
Christ through the experience and repented of his sins.
After Chas paid his debt to society, our paths crossed once again,
and we began communicating. His knowledge, rooted in the journey
of his faith, and gift for the written word impressed me on all levels.
A published author himself, we started talking about my book. He
offered to help me in writing up my little Midrash for people to take
home after one of my talks.
I met Jonathan through a parishioner’s daughter who is now my
literary agent. He just completed a horror mystery novel that will be
in bookstores October 2013. His natural ability to spin a yarn on the
page made him a natural choice to help me hone my stories. Just know,
unlike his book, mine won’t keep you peeping around the corners and
sleeping with the lights on.
And, so, the journey began.
Allow me to give you a word of advice for when you read this book
at bedtime or in the morning at the coffee house. Don’t read it straight
through like a novel. You’ll notice that I jump around, tell stories and
give personal reflections. I did that on purpose. I want you to enjoy the
book by reflecting on it, talking about it, and letting it transform you.
You might even disagree with much of it, and that’s great. Just tell
everyone why.
Like the Midrash of the ancient Jewish scholars, I hope it prompts you
to talk about God’s word, His love and the mystery of His presence. Many
of the stories are just as they happened. Many are imaginative retellings
of real events. Some are just plain made up to make a larger point.
And what is that point?
As a priest in Christ’s church, I hope it draws you closer to the
One who rules our lives, made the world and died for our sins.
So, let’s reason, laugh, cry, and walk together through this Midrash.
Amen? Amen.

Stories
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I love stories. I’m thinking I’m not alone in that, either. Billions of
dollars are spent on novels, movies, and even video games. Why? God
made us to function through story. Not only did He reveal Himself in
the greatest-selling Book of all time, but He made story a vital part of
how we communicate with each other.
Think about it. We are a storytelling people. From the moment
we are born, growing up through school and beyond, we love hearing
stories being read and told to us. We love sharing experiences that
we have lived, seen, or heard. For me, as a storyteller, preacher, and
speaker, stories provide the opportunity to communicate in a powerful
way with people in everyday language with down-to-earth tales.
I think back to my own days at St. Mary Catholic School in
kindergarten and how we loved to sit in a circle and listen to Mrs.
Richard read to us. We learned from the plot, the characters, and their
actions. She read with a passion and belief that captivated our little
minds. Most importantly, the stories struck at our hearts.
Why do you think Jesus told stories to make His point? Indeed,
He is a master storyteller in all of His parables found in the four
Gospels. He would use everyday situations that people understood. He
used characters that people would recognize in themselves and others.
Even more interesting, Jesus didn’t always provide the answers. He
let people figure out His meaning by telling them, “He who has ears,
let them hear.”
God gave me a very interesting life story, as you’re going to see
throughout this book. I like to think He gave me this life so I could tell
stories from my journey. As you might guess, when I travel to speak
at different places, I am often asked two questions. First, “Are your
stories true?” and, second, “How do these experiences always happen
to you?”
My answer is simple: Yes, the stories are true, and yes, they do
happen to me, and they happen to you! The real question that needs
to be asked is, “Do you and I have the eyes, the ears, and the hearts —
not to mention the minds — to recognize the wonderful opportunities
and teachable moments from the experiences of our day?”
Through sorrow, pain, joys, and exultations, our experiences
teach us; they stretch us. For me, stories empower and illumine the
life of Our God who is ever present with us on this journey through our
experiences that we call “Life.”
Allow me to tell you a few…