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FIRST: The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children by Stormie Omartian

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:

The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children

Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2009)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stormie Omartian is the bestselling author of The Power of a Praying® series (more than 11 million copies sold worldwide), which includes The Power of a Praying® Wife and The Power of a Praying® Husband. Her many other books include Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On, The Prayer That Changes Everything®, and The Power of a Praying® Woman. Stormie and her husband, Michael, have been married more than 35 years and have three grown children.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736920862
ISBN-13: 978-0736920865

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Pray That Your Adult Children Will
See God Pour Out His Spirit upon Them

Once you have released your adult children into God’s hands and dedicated—or rededicated—their lives to Him (as I described near the end of the introduction), then the first and most important way to start praying is to ask God to pour out His Spirit upon them. It doesn’t matter what else you need to pray about specifically; you will be heading upstream against a strong current if you and they are not moving with the flow of God’s Spirit.

Every day we want the Spirit of God to come upon us and carry us where we need to go. We want Him to open our eyes to the truth and open our ears to hear His voice. We want Him to fill us afresh with His Spirit so that our lives can be lived for Him and we can move into all He has for us. And that is exactly what we want for our adult children as well.

Ideally, our adult children will ask for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit themselves. But realistically, many young people don’t even think about doing that, or understand what it means or why they should. It would be wonderful if our adult children would pray for all the things suggested in this book over their own lives, but whether they do or don’t, they still need our prayer support.

Pray That They Will Welcome an Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

A glorious promise God proclaimed to His people was first heard in the Old Testament through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28) and then quoted later in the New Testament by Peter. It says:

“It shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17, emphasis added).

We are living in the last days God is talking about. If you are not sure about that, read your Bible and then turn on the TV and watch it for a week. You will see unmistakable signs of it everywhere. The promise for our adult children in the words “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” is that, when the Holy Spirit is poured out on them, they will be able to hear from God. They will have a word from God in their hearts, and it will become the motivating factor in their lives. And God will be glorified in the process.

When our adult children can hear from God, then they will know where He is leading them, and they will understand how He wants them to serve Him. They may not know specifics, but they will have direction. Too often young adults can’t figure out the direction for their lives because they haven’t heard a word in their hearts from God about it. This can carry on for years until you have adult children who are aimless and don’t feel any sense of purpose or calling. But when the Holy Spirit is poured out upon them, they can sense direction from God, and He is able to lead them on the right paths and secure their steps in ways they couldn’t begin to do on their own.

I have known too many good, godly, believing parents who had an adult child who did nothing for years after he (she) graduated from high school. In each case he (she) refused to go to a college or a trade school and couldn’t or wouldn’t find a job. The parents prayed and prayed and threatened and prodded and begged to no effect. Then one day, after they had prayed that God would pour out His Spirit upon him (her), their adult child got up off the couch, turned off the TV, and went out and made a life for himself (herself).

You might be thinking, Why didn’t those parents just throw their lazy adult children out? But it is not as easy as it sounds. When you throw them out they can get into a lot of trouble. They can become more vulnerable to evil influences because they are afraid or desperate. You must have the mind of God about this. You have to be certain that throwing your adult child out of your house is what God wants you to do. In some cases it may well be, but it can’t be a decision born of human emotions, such as anger. I know some parents who shipped their adult child out because they thought it would do him good, and it turned out to be a terrible decision because he fell under some horrible influences.

We have to keep in mind that God can do far more for our adult children than we can ever do, and so we must ask Him to speak to their hearts by the power of His Holy Spirit. They need to be able to hear from God regarding every aspect of their lives, from decisions they make about where they go and what they do to the people they spend time with and perhaps try to emulate.

Some adult children are going to be more open to hearing from God and receptive to the move of His Spirit in their lives than others. Some will not be open or receptive at all. At least not at first. Whether they are open or not shouldn’t affect your prayers. You pray what needs to be prayed regardless of what your adult child’s attitude is toward the things of God. Your job is to pray, and it is God’s job to answer. Remember, you have released your adult child into God’s hands. That doesn’t mean you have given up on him or her. You’re not saying, “You take him, God. I can’t deal with him anymore.” Or, “That’s it, Lord. I’ve had it. She’s all Yours now.” It means you have surrendered the burden you have been carrying for your adult child to the Lord so He can take it off of your shoulders. Then the burden you carry is in prayer.

Pray That They Will Understand the Power of the Holy Spirit

I wrote The Power of a Praying Parent more than 15 years ago, and it has served me and others well in all those years. I have seen countless answers to prayer in my own children’s lives, and I have heard from thousands of readers about the wonderful answers to prayer they have experienced as well. Those of us who started praying for our small children back then have seen them grow into adults. And we have also watched the world change for the worse in some way every day. We must now have a new strategy in prayer for our adult children. Our prayers for the flow of the Holy Spirit in their lives will become a powerful protective shield from the flood of this toxic culture. They cannot navigate it successfully without God’s power.

Today’s cultural environment will chew our adult children up and spit them out if they are not strong enough to recognize the destructive, dark, and powerful forces that are in it and be able to resist them. No matter how horrible our own background might have been, we weren’t confronted with the outpouring of evil they are facing today. It is becoming so dangerous that even our adult children cannot successfully withstand it on their own. They need the power of the Holy Spirit, and they need our prayers to help them understand how He moves in power on their behalf.

We must not only politely ask God for an outpouring of His Spirit on our adult children, we must get on our knees and cry out for it from the depths of our being. We must recognize that already a spirit is being poured out on them right now—the spirit of darkness, death, perversion, lies, destruction, and evil—and only an outpouring of the Holy Spirit can negate that in their lives before it harms or destroys them. Only an outpouring of the Holy Spirit can connect them to the power of God.

Pray That They Will Be Influenced by the Holy Spirit of Truth

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). We all must have Him functioning in that capacity fully in our lives. And this is especially true for our adult children. The Spirit of truth will bring the truth to light and expose the lies.

I am deliberately not telling many stories about my own adult children in this book, and that is not because there aren’t any stories to tell. But Christopher and Amanda are adults, and these are their stories to tell. And I hope that someday they will, for the outcome in each case has been great to the glory of God. However, I will say that each one of my adult children at one point presented us with a challenge that made it necessary to confront them about some choices they had made with regard to the path they were on. They each had gotten off the path God had for them because of bad influences in their lives. I am not blaming the bad influences, because obviously something in each adult child allowed them to be drawn toward what they clearly knew was not right.

This happened in separate years and ages for each of them, and they were dealing with entirely different issues. However, in both cases I had previously sensed in my spirit that something was not quite right in their spirits. A parent can look into their adult child’s eyes and see if the Holy Spirit is reflected back in all His purity, or if something has come into their mind and soul that is competing with His presence. And this is especially true when you ask the Holy Spirit of truth to reveal what you need to know in order to pray effectively for their lives.

My husband and I felt something was not right, but we didn’t have any hard evidence. So we just prayed that God would reveal everything that needed to be revealed, and that He would not let them get away with anything. We asked God to pour out His Spirit upon them and convict them of whatever was in their lives that was not glorifying to Him. We asked the Spirit of truth to reveal the truth to them and to us.

In each case, not long after we prayed, someone called us to say they were concerned about our adult child and why. We went to each one and told them what the Holy Spirit had put on our hearts. We also told them what we had heard, although not whom we heard it from. (I never reveal my sources.) They each immediately admitted to what we suspected and were deeply and completely repentant.

This was a turning point for each adult child, because they were different from then on. They were more serious about their lives, their futures, and the Lord. They became far more careful and wise about their associations and actions. The Holy Spirit spoke powerfully to them, and their hearts were opened to a new level of His work in their lives. All this could not have happened without the Spirit of truth penetrating their lives and revealing what they needed to see.

Even though I am not using many stories from my own adult children’s lives—except in a few minor instances such as this, where their privacy is not compromised—there are countless parents of adult children with whom I have talked at great length about the problems they have faced with their adult children. These conversations have given me more than enough examples to illustrate what I need to in each chapter. However, so as to protect everyone’s privacy, I will not mention any real names or specifics that would allow someone to be identified. Plus, nearly every example I am citing is based on more than one case. So it could be any one of a number of adult children whom I am talking about in this book.

All that to say, I have seen countless answers to prayers for adult children. Were I to tell you all of them, you would be greatly encouraged in praying for your own. I hope the ones I mention will give you the encouragement you need.

If you have an adult child who has grieved or worried you, or caused problems for himself (herself) or for you or others, ask God to pour out His Spirit on him (her) right now. Don’t waste time blaming yourself, the other parent, or your child. I am not saying your adult children don’t bear any responsibility for what happens in their lives. They certainly do. But the overriding factor is that only an outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God on your adult children is powerful enough to withstand the onslaught of the spirit of evil coming against them. Asking God to pour out His Spirit upon your adult children is a simple prayer with powerful ramifications, both for you and for them.

I have asked God to pour out His Holy Spirit on you and speak to your heart as you pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on your adult children. I can’t wait to hear about the results.

Prayer Power

Lord, You have said that in the last days You will pour out Your Spirit upon all flesh. I cry out to You from the depth of my heart and ask that You would pour out Your Holy Spirit upon my adult children. Pour out Your Spirit upon me and my other family members as well. Pour out Your Spirit on all of their in-laws, both present and future. Pour out Your Spirit upon whatever difficult circumstances each of my adult children are facing. Be Lord over every part of their lives and every aspect of their being.

Speak to my adult child’s heart and help him (her) to hear from You. Enable him (her) to understand Your leading and direction for his (her) life. Open his (her) ears to hear Your truth so he (she) will reject all lies. Help him (her) to move by the power of Your Spirit. Enable him (her) to rise above the onslaught of evil in our culture.

Where he (she) has walked away from You in any way, stretch out Your hand and draw him (her) back. Don’t let him (her) get away with anything that is not pleasing in Your sight. Convict his (her) heart and bring him (her) back to where he (she) should be. May the Holy Spirit poured out on him (her) completely neutralize the power of the enemy attempting to pour out evil in his (her) life.

I know You can do far more in my adult child’s life than I can ever do, and I invite You to do so. But if there is anything I should do—or should not do—make it clear to me so that I will do the right thing. Holy Spirit of truth, reveal the truth that needs to be seen both to them and to me. Guide me in my response to them always.

I pray my adult child will never grieve Your Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) but will receive Him as a gift from You (Luke 11:13). Fill him (her) with Your Spirit and pour into him (her) Your peace, hope, faith, truth, and power. Let a spirit of praise arise in his (her) heart and teach him (her) to worship You in Spirit and in truth.

In Jesus’ name I pray.

Word Power

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

Luke 11:13

You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.

Acts 1:8

Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

Matthew 12:32

Prophecy never came by the will of man,
but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:21

Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38

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Book Review: The I Believe Bunny by Tish Rabe

_200_350_Book.63.coverThe I Believe Bunny by Tish Rabe
Illustrated by Frank Endersby
www.ibelievebunny.com
Thomas Nelson Publisher,
Juvenile Fiction, $9.99

This book is based on Philippians 4:13 : ‘I can do everything through him who gives me strength’ a favorite verse of my own. I couldn’t wait to read this book to my daughter and was not disappointed in the least bit. I like that this story encourages children to look to their Father God in times of trouble. I really enjoyed the lightheartedness feeling of this book but also the strong message in teaching children to seek God in times of trouble and the power of prayer.

This book is written in a style that all children both young and old will enjoy. My daughter at only 13 months enjoys looking at the clear and bright colored illustrations on each page as well as listening to me read through the fun rhyming style that the book was written in. I am encouraged knowing in the years to come when she is older, she’ll have questions pertaining deeper into this well-written story.

I’ll defiantly be looking for other titles in the I Believe Bunny series by Tish Rabe. I’m encouraged that her books are written with keeping in mind to
teach children to put their faith into action.

I review for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers

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FIRST: Valley of the Shadow by Tom Pawlik

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:

Valley of the Shadow

Tyndale House Publishers (May 13, 2009)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tom Pawlik, winner of the 2006 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest has drawn praise from critics with his first novel, Vanish. Novel Journey has declared, “Tom Pawlik writes a scary, fascinating, suspenseful story; one you won’t want to miss” and Faithful Reader said Vanish “…delivers a Christian message and certainly succeeds in stirring the imagination and the spirit.”

Tom Pawlik has a BA in communication and works in the marketing field. He has been active in Christian teaching, youth work, and music for over twenty years. In addition to writing fiction, Tom is an accomplished songwriter and musician who writes and records at his home studio. He and his wife, Colette, live in Ohio with their four children and a dog.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (May 13, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414326793
ISBN-13: 978-1414326795

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Freezing. Devon Marshall was freezing.

Darkness enveloped him. Thick and heavy, wrapping around him like a blanket. He could feel its weight pressing in on him. Squeezing him. Smothering him. And far off in the darkness, he heard sounds. A deep rumble mixed with a jumbled, muddied squawking. The noises were muffled and distant but growing steadily louder. Like a train approaching: the thunder of the engines and the clacking of its wheels on the tracks.

A pinprick of light blazed in the darkness. Tiny at first, but getting closer. Every second it grew larger and more intense. The sound roared now as the light rushed toward him and then . . .

Everything exploded into chaos.

Light and sound washed around him like a giant whirlpool. He could feel himself spinning inside it. Being buffeted and pulled along by a current.

And he was still freezing.

Lights flashed in his face. A dizzying array of reds and blues. Light and darkness. Shadows loomed over him and moved about. He tried to focus on the shadowy images as they swirled around him. Then he recognized them.

People?

He was surrounded by people. Actual human beings! They were speaking to one another. Devon could hear distinct voices but still couldn’t make out the words. And the voices sounded worried. Anxious.

Devon’s vision was becoming clearer. Several people with uniforms and badges hovered over him. An ambulance was parked nearby, and two police cars, their lights flashing.

Paramedics? And cops? Was there an accident somewhere?

His mind was a jumble of thoughts and he tried to recall what had just happened. Images flashed through his mind. Terrifying ones. Disjointed and vague memories of huge, empty buildings. Skyscrapers. An entire city, void of life. A dull, overcast sky. Gray, faceless creatures reaching out hands with long, bony fingers like enormous spider legs.

And a farm out in the middle of nowhere . . .

Terrell. Where was Terrell? They had been together just a few days ago. Or had it been only a few minutes?

Devon tried to turn his head but couldn’t. Something was holding him in place. He struggled to move but was too weak.

He had to get out of here. He had to find Terrell.

He could hear the voices better now. One of them called for help. Something about a stretcher. Legs and feet shuffled out of view, then back in again. More lights.

Not far off, a row of strangers huddled together, watching. Devon scanned their faces, and one of them caught his eye. One face seemed out of place in the group. One man was standing off a little ways by himself. Standing in the shadows, staring right at Devon. His face seemed to draw Devon’s gaze toward him, as if pulling him down into a pit.

It was long and narrow. Pale skin almost glowed against the shadows behind him. His cheeks were gaunt and sunken. And his eyes . . .

His eyes shone a pale yellow. But they seemed hollow. Then he smiled. His thin, puckered mouth expanded into a wide grin. Rows of brown, rotted teeth dripped with black saliva.

Devon couldn’t take his eyes off the man. Then someone passed between them and he was gone.

Suddenly Devon felt himself moving. Floating. He could see several people standing around him. Cops and paramedics. They slid him into an enclosed space where white light surrounded him. Two people climbed up beside him.

What was going on?

Devon heard doors slam shut with a thud and a click. A moment later, he could feel himself moving again.

His eyes widened and his breathing grew more rapid. The crowd. The paramedics. The cops . . .

They were there for him!

They had put him into the ambulance!

One of the paramedics leaned close. He had reddish brown hair, green eyes, and a broad, freckled face. “. . . what I’m saying? You’ve been shot. . . . going to be all right . . . Cook County Memorial . . . understand?”

He was pressing something against Devon’s chest. Devon glanced down. Now in the light he could see his shirt was cut open and drenched in blood. A large, white piece of gauze was taped to his chest.

Devon looked back up at the medic and his breath caught in his throat.

The man’s face had changed. His eyes glowed yellow. His lips parted in a twisted grin, showing dozens of teeth. Dark and rotted, all jammed together in his mouth. Black liquid, like tar, dripped onto his chin.

“The door is still open,” he croaked. His voice was gargled and deep.

“Leave me alone!” Devon squeezed his eyes shut. “Leave me alone! Leave me alone!”

He felt a hand on his forehead and opened his eyes again. The medic’s face had returned to normal. The guy was working on Devon as if nothing had happened.

Devon tried to slow his breathing. His chest burned and a sharp pain knifed through his ribs with every breath. He struggled for air as darkness began to close in around him. Sounds grew muffled. The medic’s voice sounded urgent but began to fade. Devon could feel them moving around, trying to save him.

And he could feel himself slipping away.

Excerpted from Valley of the Shadow by Tom Pawlik. Copyright© 2009 by Tom Pawlik. Printed with permission from Tyndale House Publishers. All Rights Reserved.

My thoughts:
I’m not finished reading this book yet but wanted to say that though this book in the second in it’s series, it stand alone well. In saying that, there’s no missing back story that will leave you clueless. I’ll be posting my full review once I finished reading through this book but I want to let you know I’m enjoying it! It’s a real page turner!

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Psalms, Proverbs (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary) by Mark D. Futato and George M. Schwab

978-0-8423-3433-4 Psalms, Proverbs

Author Mark D. Futato – view author info
Author George M. Schwab – view author info
List Price: 36.99

I’m thrilled to let you know about the Psalms, Proverbs Commentary by Mark D. Futato and George M. Schwab that I’ve been using with my daily studies of Psalms.  This well written commentary is volume 7 in set of 18 others.  It includes the entire NLT text of Psalms and Proverbs as with the other volumes available.

There is a very informative introduction to each book in this commentary. I found it very useful that it mentions the known authors, date and occasion, and audience, among many other important things to take note of. You’ll learn quite a bit as this volume presents the message of each passage, as well as an overview of other issues relevant to the text.

I enjoyed delving deeper into the books that I love so dearly. I highly recommend this book to those of you wanting to dig deeper into God’s word. This would be a great resource and gift to anyone from Pastors, to people just like you and me.

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FIRST: Be Hopeful (1 Peter): How to Make the Best of Times Out of Your Worst of Times (The BE Series Commentary) by Warren Wiersbe

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:

Be Hopeful (1 Peter): How to Make the Best of Times Out of Your Worst of Times (The BE Series Commentary)

David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he was associated with the Back to the Bible radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 150 books, including the popular “BE” series of Bible commentaries, which has sold more than four million copies. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434767434
ISBN-13: 978-1434767431

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Copyright 2009 David C Cook. Be Hopeful by Warren Wiersbe. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

WHERE THERE’S CHRIST, THERE’S HOPE

(1 Peter 1:1; 5:12–14)

While there’s life, there’s hope!” That ancient Roman saying is still quoted today and, like most adages, it has an element of truth but no guarantee of certainty. It is not the fact of life that determines hope, but the faith of life. A Christian believer has a “living hope” (1 Peter 1:3 NASB) because his faith and hope are in God (1 Peter 1:21). This “living hope” is the major theme of Peter’s first letter. He is saying to all believers, “Be hopeful!”

Before we study the details of this fascinating letter, let’s get acquainted with the man who wrote it, the people to whom he sent it, and the particular situation that prompted him to write.

THE WRITER (1:1)

He identified himself as “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:1). Some liberals have questioned whether a common fisherman could have penned this letter, especially since Peter and John were both called “unlearned and ignorant men” (Acts 4:13). However, this phrase only means “laymen without formal schooling”; that is, they were not professional religious leaders. We must never underestimate the training Peter had for three years with the Lord Jesus, nor should we minimize the work of the Holy Spirit in his life. Peter is a perfect illustration of the truth expressed in 1 Corinthians 1:26–31.

His given name was Simon, but Jesus changed it to Peter, which means “a stone” (John 1:35–42). The Aramaic equivalent of “Peter” is “Cephas,” so Peter was a man with three names. Nearly fifty times in the New Testament, he is called “Simon,” and often he is called “Simon Peter.” Perhaps the two names suggest a Christian’s two natures: an old nature (Simon) that is prone to fail, and a new nature (Peter) that can give victory. As Simon, he was only another human piece of clay, but Jesus Christ made a rock out of him!

Peter and Paul were the two leading apostles in the early church. Paul was assigned especially to minister to the Gentiles, and Peter to the Jews (Gal. 2:1–10). The Lord had commanded Peter to strengthen his brethren (Luke 22:32) and to tend the flock (John 21:15–17; also see 1 Peter 5:1–4), and the writing of this letter was a part of that ministry. Peter told his readers that this was a letter of encouragement and personal witness (1 Peter 5:12). Some writings are manufactured out of books, the way freshmen students write term papers, but this letter grew out of a life lived to the glory of God. A number of events in Peter’s life are woven into the fabric of this epistle.

This letter is also associated with Silas (Silvanus, 1 Peter 5:12). He was one of the “chief men” in the early church (Acts 15:22) and a prophet (Acts 15:32). This means that he communicated God’s messages to the congregations as he was directed by the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor. 14). The apostles and prophets worked together to lay the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20), and, once that foundation was laid, they passed off the scene. There are no apostles and prophets in the New Testament sense in the church today.

It is interesting that Silas was associated with Peter’s ministry, because originally he went with Paul as a replacement for Barnabas (Acts 15:36–41). Peter also mentioned John Mark (1 Peter 5:13) whose failure on the mission field helped to cause the rupture between Paul and Barnabas. Peter had led Mark to faith in Christ (“Mark, my son”) and certainly would maintain a concern for him. No doubt one of the early assemblies met in John Mark’s home in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12). In the end, Paul forgave and accepted Mark as a valued helper in the work (2 Tim. 4:11).

Peter indicated that he wrote this letter “at Babylon” (1 Peter 5:13) where there was an assembly of believers. There is no evidence either from church history or tradition that Peter ministered in ancient Babylon which, at that time, did have a large community of Jews. There was another town called “Babylon” in Egypt, but we have no proof that Peter ever visited it. “Babylon” is probably another name for the city of Rome, and we do have reason to believe that Peter ministered in Rome and was probably martyred there. Rome is called “Babylon” in Revelation 17:5 and 18:10. It was not unusual for persecuted believers during those days to write or speak in “code.”

In saying this, however, we must not assign more to Peter than is due him. He did not found the church in Rome nor serve as its first bishop. It was Paul’s policy not to minister where any other apostle had gone (Rom. 15:20); so Paul would not have ministered in Rome had Peter arrived there first. Peter probably arrived in Rome after Paul was released from his first imprisonment, about the year AD 62. First Peter was written about the year 63. Paul was martyred about 64, and perhaps that same year, or shortly after, Peter laid down his life for Christ.

THE RECIPIENTS (1:1)

Peter called them “strangers” (1 Peter 1:1), which means “resident aliens, sojourners.” They are called “strangers and pilgrims” in 1 Peter 2:11. These people were citizens of heaven through faith in Christ (Phil. 3:20), and therefore were not permanent residents on earth. Like Abraham, they had their eyes of faith centered on the future city of God (Heb. 11:8–16). They were in the world, but not of the world (John 17:16).

Because Christians are “strangers” in the world, they are considered to be “strange” in the eyes of the world (1 Peter 4:4). Christians have standards and values different from those of the world, and this gives opportunity both for witness and for warfare. We will discover in this epistle that some of the readers were experiencing suffering because of their different lifestyle.

These believers were a “scattered” people as well as a “strange” people. The word translated “scattered” (diaspora) was a technical term for the Jews who lived outside of Palestine. It is used this way in John 7:35 and James 1:1. However, Peter’s use of this word does not imply that he was writing only to Jewish Christians, because some statements in his letter suggest that some of his readers were converted out of Gentile paganism (1 Peter 1:14, 18; 2:9–10; 4:1–4). There was undoubtedly a mixture of both Jews and Gentiles in the churches that received this letter. We will notice a number of Old Testament references and allusions in these chapters.

These Christians were scattered in five different parts of the Roman Empire, all of them in northern Asia Minor (modern Turkey). The Holy Spirit did not permit Paul to minister in Bithynia (Acts 16:7), so he did not begin this work. There were Jews at Pentecost from Pontus and Cappadocia (Acts 2:9), and perhaps they carried the gospel to their neighboring province. Possibly Jewish believers who had been under Peter’s ministry in other places had migrated to towns in these provinces. People were “on the move” in those days, and dedicated believers shared the Word wherever they went (Acts 8:4).

The important thing for us to know about these “scattered strangers” is that they were going through a time of suffering and persecution. At least fifteen times in this letter Peter referred to suffering, and he used eight different Greek words to do so. Some of these Christians were suffering because they were living godly lives and doing what was good and right (1 Peter 2:19–23; 3:14–18; 4:1–4, 15–19). Others were suffering reproach for the name of Christ (1 Peter 4:14) and being railed at by unsaved people (1 Peter 3:9–10). Peter wrote to encourage them to be good witnesses to their persecutors, and to remember that their suffering would lead to glory

(1 Peter 1:6–7; 4:13–14; 5:10).

But Peter had another purpose in mind. He knew that a “fiery trial” was about to begin—official persecution from the Roman Empire (1 Peter 4:12). When the church began in Jerusalem, it was looked on as a “sect” of the traditional Jewish faith. The first Christians were Jews, and they met in the temple precincts. The Roman government took no official action against the Christians since the Jewish religion was accepted and approved. But when it became clear that Christianity was not a “sect” of Judaism, Rome had to take official steps.

Several events occurred that helped to precipitate this “fiery trial.” To begin with, Paul had defended the Christian faith before the official court in Rome (Phil. 1:12–24). He had been released but then was arrested again. This second defense failed, and he was martyred (2 Tim. 4:16–18). Second, the deranged emperor, Nero, blamed the fire of Rome (July AD 64) on the Christians, using them as a scapegoat. Peter was probably in Rome about that time and was slain by Nero, who had also killed Paul. Nero’s persecution of Christians was local at first, but it probably spread. At any rate, Peter wanted to prepare the churches.

We must not get the idea that all Christians in every part of the empire were going through the same trials to the same degree at the same time. It varied from place to place, though suffering and opposition were pretty general (1 Peter 5:9). Nero introduced official persecution of the church, and other emperors followed his example in later years. Peter’s letter must have been a tremendous help to Christians who suffered during the reigns of Trajan (98–117), Hadrian (117–138), and Diocletian (284–305). Christians in the world today may yet learn the value of Peter’s letter when their own “fiery trials” of persecution begin. While I personally believe that the church will not go through the tribulation, I do believe that these latter days will bring much suffering and persecution to the people of God.

It is possible that Silas was the bearer of this letter to the believers in the provinces, and also the secretary who wrote the epistle.

THE MESSAGE (5:12)

First Peter is a letter of encouragement (1 Peter 5:12). We have noted that the theme of suffering runs throughout the letter, but so also does the theme of glory (see 1 Peter 1:7–8, 11, 21; 2:12; 4:11–16; 5:1, 4, 10–11). One of the encouragements that Peter gives suffering saints is the assurance that their suffering will one day be transformed into glory (1 Peter 1:6–7; 4:13–14; 5:10). This is possible only because the Savior suffered for us and then entered into His glory (1 Peter 1:11; 5:1). The sufferings of Christ are mentioned often in this letter (1 Peter 1:11; 3:18; 4:1, 13; 5:1).

Peter is preeminently the apostle of hope, as Paul is the apostle of faith and John of love. As believers, we have a “living hope” because we trust a living Christ (1 Peter 1:3). This hope enables us to keep our minds under control and “hope to the end” (1 Peter 1:13 NIV) when Jesus shall return. We must not be ashamed of our hope but be ready to explain and defend

it (1 Peter 3:15). Like Sarah, Christian wives can hope in God (1 Peter 3:5, where “trusted” should be translated “hoped”). Since suffering brings glory, and because Jesus is coming again, we can indeed be hopeful!

But suffering does not automatically bring glory to God and blessing to God’s people. Some believers have fainted and fallen in times of trial and have brought shame to the name of Christ. It is only when we depend on the grace of God that we can glorify God in times of suffering. Peter also emphasized God’s grace in this letter. “I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it” (1 Peter 5:12 NIV).

The word grace is used in every chapter of 1 Peter: 1:2, 10, 13; 2:19 (“thankworthy”), 20 (“acceptable”); 3:7; 4:10; 5:5, 10, 12. Grace is God’s generous favor to undeserving sinners and needy saints. When we depend on God’s grace, we can endure suffering and turn trials into triumphs. It is grace alone that saves us (Eph. 2:8–10). God’s grace can give us strength in times of trial (2 Cor. 12:1–10). Grace enables us to serve God in spite of difficulties (1 Cor. 15:9–10). Whatever begins with God’s grace will always lead to glory (Ps. 84:11; 1 Peter 5:10).

As we study 1 Peter, we will see how the three themes of suffering, grace, and glory unite to form an encouraging message for believers experiencing times of trial and persecution. These themes are summarized in 1 Peter 5:10, a verse we would do well to memorize.

The cynical editor and writer H. L. Mencken once defined hope as “a pathological belief in the occurrence of the impossible.” But that definition does not agree with the New Testament meaning of the word. True Christian hope is more than “hope so.” It is confident assurance of future glory and blessing.

An Old Testament believer called God “the hope of Israel” (Jer. 14:8). A New Testament believer affirms that Jesus Christ is his hope (1 Tim. 1:1; see Col. 1:27). The unsaved sinner is “without hope” (Eph. 2:12 NIV), and if he dies without Christ, he will be hopeless forever. The Italian poet Dante, in his Divine Comedy, put this inscription over the world of the dead: “Abandon all hope, you who enter here!”

This confident hope gives us the encouragement and enablement we need for daily living. It does not put us in a rocking chair where we complacently await the return of Jesus Christ. Instead, it puts us in the marketplace, on the battlefield, where we keep on going when the burdens are heavy and the battles are hard. Hope is not a sedative; it is a shot of adrenaline, a blood transfusion. Like an anchor, our hope in Christ stabilizes us in the storms of life (Heb. 6:18–19), but unlike an anchor, our hope moves us forward, it does not hold us back.

It is not difficult to follow Peter’s train of thought. Everything begins with salvation, our personal relationship to God through Jesus Christ. If we know Christ as Savior, then we have hope! If we have hope, then we can walk in holiness and in harmony. There should be no problem submitting to those around us in society, the home, and the church family. Salvation and submission are preparation for suffering; but if we focus on Christ, we can overcome, and God will transform suffering into glory.

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FIRST: Critical Care (Mercy Hospital Series #1) by Candace Calvert

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:

Critical Care (Mercy Hospital Series #1)

Tyndale House Publishers (May 6, 2009)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


CANDACE CALVERT is a writer and ER nurse who believes that love, laughter, and faith are the very best medicines of all. After an equestrian accident broke her neck, she shared the inspirational account of her accident and recovery in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul, and her writing career was launched. Born in Northern California and the mother of two, Candace lives in the hill country of Texas.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (May 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414325436
ISBN-13: 978-1414325439

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Don’t die, little girl.

Dr. Logan Caldwell pressed the heel of his hand against Amy Hester’s chest, taking over heart compressions in a last attempt to save the child’s life. Her small sternum hollowed and recoiled under his palm at a rate of one hundred times per minute, the best he could do to mimic her natural heartbeat. A respiratory therapist forced air into her lungs.

Don’t die. Logan glanced up at the ER resuscitation clock, ticking on without mercy. Twenty-seven minutes since they’d begun the code. No heartbeat. Not once. Time to quit but . . .

He turned to his charge nurse, Erin Quinn, very aware of the insistent wail of sirens in the distance. “Last dose of epi?”

“Three minutes ago.”

“Give another.” Logan halted compressions, his motionless hand easily spanning the width of the two-year-old’s chest. He watched until satisfied with the proficiency of the therapist’s ventilations, then turned back to the cardiac monitor and frowned. Asystole—flatline. Flogging this young heart with atropine and repeated doses of epinephrine wasn’t going to do it. A pacemaker, pointless. She’d been deprived of oxygen far too long before rescue.

Logan pushed his palm into Amy’s sternum again and gritted his teeth against images of a terrified little girl hiding in a toy cupboard as her day care burned in a suffocating cloud of smoke, amid the chaos of two dozen other burned and panicking children.

“Epi’s on board,” Erin reported, sweeping an errant strand of coppery hair away from her face. She pressed two fingers against the child’s arm to locate the brachial pulse and raised her gaze to the doctor’s. “You’re generating a good pulse with compressions, but . . .”

But she’s dead. With reluctance, Logan lifted his hand from the child’s chest. He studied the monitor display and then nodded at the blonde nurse standing beside the crash cart. “Run me rhythm strips in three leads, Sarah.” After he drew in a slow breath of air still acrid with the residue of smoke, he glanced down at Amy Hester, her cheeks unnaturally rosy from the effects of carbon monoxide, glossy brown curls splayed against the starched hospital linen. Dainty purple flower earrings. Blue eyes, glazed and half-lidded. Tiny chin. And lips—pink as a Valentine cupid—pursed around the rigid breathing tube, as if it were a straw in a snack-time juice box. Picture-perfect . . . and gone.

He signaled for the ventilations to stop and checked the code clock again. “Time of death—9:47.”

There was a long stretch of silence, and Logan used it to make his exit, turning his back to avoid another glance at the child on the gurney . . . and the expressions on the faces of his team. No good came from dwelling on tragedy. He knew that too well. Best to move on with what he had to do. He’d almost reached the doorway when Erin caught his arm.

“We’ve put Amy’s parents and grandmother in the quiet room the way you asked,” she confirmed, her green eyes conveying empathy for him as well. “I can send Sarah with you, if—”

“No. I’ll handle it myself,” Logan said, cutting her off. His tone was brusquer than he’d intended, but he just wanted this over with. “We need Sarah here.” He tensed at a child’s shrill cry in the trauma room beyond, followed by the squawk of the base station radio announcing an ambulance. “There are at least five more kids coming in from the propane explosion. We’ll need extra staff to do more than pass out boxes of Kleenex. I want nurses who know what they’re doing. Get them for me.”

***

Why am I here?

Claire Avery winced as a child’s painful cry echoed up the Sierra Mercy emergency department corridor and blended with the wail of sirens. Almost an hour after the Little Nugget Day Care explosion, ambulances still raced in. Fire. Burns. Like my brother. No, please, I can’t be part of this again.

She leaned against the cool corridor wall, her mouth dry and thoughts stuttering. Being called to the ER was a mistake. Had to be. The message to meet the director of nursing didn’t make sense. Claire hadn’t done critical care nursing since Kevin’s death. Couldn’t. She wiped a clammy palm on her freshly pressed lab coat and stepped away from the wall to peer down the corridor into the ER. Then jumped, heart pounding, at the thud of heavy footfalls directly behind her.

She whirled to catch a glimpse of a man barreling toward her with his gaze on the ambulance entrance some dozen yards away. He looked a few years older than she was, maybe thirty-five, tall and wide shouldered, with curly dark hair and faded blue scrubs. He leveled a forbidding scowl at Claire like a weapon and slowed to a jog before stopping a few paces from her.

“What are you doing?” he asked, grabbing his stethoscope before it could slide from his neck.

“I’m . . . waiting,” Claire explained, awkwardly defensive. “I was paged to the ER.”

“Good. Then don’t just stand there holding up the wall. Let’s go. The charge nurse will show you where to start.”

“But I—,” she choked, her confusion complete.

“But what?” He glanced toward sounds at the ambulance bay and then back at her.

Claire cleared her throat. “I don’t know why I’m here.”

He shook his head, his low groan sounding far too much like a smothered curse. “If that question’s existential, I don’t have time for it. But if you’re here to work, follow me. Erin Quinn will tell you everything you need to know.” He pointed toward a crew of paramedics racing through the ambulance doors with a stretcher. A toddler, his tiny, terrified face raw and blistered behind an oxygen mask, sat bolt upright partially covered by a layer of sterile sheets. “See that boy? That’s why I’m here. So either help me or get out of the way.” He turned and began jogging.

Speechless, Claire stared at the man’s retreating back and the nightmarish scene beyond: burned child, hustling medics, a flurry of scrubs, and a hysterically screaming parent. Help or get out of the way? What was she supposed to do with that ultimatum? And what gave this rude man the right to issue it?

Then, with a rush of relief, Claire spotted the Jamaican nursing director striding toward her. This awful mistake was about to be cleared up.

“I’m sorry for the delay,” Merlene Hibbert said, her molasses-rich voice breathless. “As you can imagine, there have been many things to attend to.” She slid her tortoiseshell glasses low on her nose, squinting down the corridor. “I see you already met our Dr. Caldwell.”

Claire’s eyes widened. Logan Caldwell? Sierra Mercy Hospital’s ER director?

Merlene sighed. “I’d planned to introduce you myself. I hope he wasn’t . . . difficult.”

“No, not exactly,” she hedged, refusing to imagine a reason she’d need an introduction. “But I think there’s been a mistake. He thought I’d been sent down here to work in the ER.” Tell me he’s mistaken.

“Of course. A natural mistake. He’s expecting two more agency nurses.”

Claire’s knees nearly buckled with relief. “Thank goodness. They need help. I can see that from here.” She glanced at the ER, where patients on gurneys overflowed into the hallway. A nurse’s aide held a sobbing woman in her arms, her face etched with fatigue. Styrofoam coffee cups, discarded cardboard splints, and scraps of cut-away clothing littered the floor. All the while, the distant cries of that poor child continued relentlessly.

“Yes, they do,” Merlene agreed. “And that’s exactly why I called you.”

“But I’ve been at Sierra Mercy only a few months, and my hours are promised to the education department—to train the students, write policies, and demonstrate new equipment.” Claire floundered ahead as if grasping for a life preserver. “I’ve interviewed to replace Renee Baxter as clinical educator. And I haven’t done any critical care nursing in two years, so working in the ER would be out of the—”

“That’s not why you’re here,” Merlene said. Her dark eyes pinned Claire like a butterfly specimen on corkboard. “I need you to assess my staff to see how they’re coping emotionally. I don’t have to tell you this has been one miserable morning.” She studied Claire’s face and then raised her brows. “You listed that in your résumé. That you’ve been recently trained in Critical Incident Stress Management?”

CISM? Oh no. She’d forgotten. Why on earth had she included that? “Yes, I’m certified, but . . .” How could she explain? Merlene had no clue that Claire’s entire future—maybe even her sanity—depended on never setting foot in an ER again. It was the only answer to the single prayer she’d clung to since her firefighter brother’s death in a Sacramento trauma room two years ago. Being helpless to save him left her with crippling doubts, sleep-stealing nightmares, and . . . She’d mapped her future out meticulously. The move to Placerville, a new hospital, a new career path, no going back. Everything depended on her plan.

Claire brushed away a long strand of her dark hair and forced herself to stand tall, squaring her shoulders. “I understand what you’re asking. But you should know that I haven’t done any disaster counseling beyond classroom practice. I’m familiar with the principles, but . . .” What could she possibly offer these people? “Wouldn’t the chaplain be a better choice?”

“He’s going to be delayed for several hours. Erin Quinn’s my strongest charge nurse, so if she tells me her ER team is at risk, I believe it. They received six children from that explosion at the day care. Four are in serious condition, and a two-year-old died.” Merlene touched the amber and silver cross resting at the neckline of her uniform. She continued, frowning. “Dr. Caldwell’s working them ragged. An agency nurse threatened to walk out. Security’s got their hands full with the media. . . . You’re all I can offer them right now.”

Claire’s heart pounded in her throat. With every fiber of her being, she wanted to sprint into the northern California sunshine; fill her lungs with mountain air; cleanse away the suffocating scents of fear, pain, and death; keep on running and not look back. It would be so easy. Except that these were fellow nurses in that ER; she’d walked in their shoes. More than most people, Claire understood the awful toll this work could take. The staff needed help. How could she refuse? She took a breath and let it out slowly. “Okay. I’ll do it.”

“Good.” Relief flooded into Merlene’s eyes. She handed Claire a dog-eared sheaf of papers. “Here’s our hospital policy for staff support interventions. Probably nothing new there.” She gestured toward her office a few yards away. “Why don’t you sit down and review it for a few minutes before you go in? You can report to me later after I make my rounds.”

Before Claire could respond, the ambulance bay doors slammed open at the far end of the corridor. There was an answering thunder of footsteps, rubber-soled shoes squeaking across the faded vinyl flooring.

Logan Caldwell reappeared, shoving past a clutch of reporters to direct incoming paramedics. He raked his fingers through his hair and bellowed orders. “Faster! Get that stretcher moving. Give me something to work with, guys. And you—yeah, you, buddy—get the camera out of my face! Who let you in here?” The ER director whirled, stethoscope swinging across his broad chest, to shout at a tall nurse who’d appeared at the entrance to the ER. “Where are those extra nurses, Erin? Call the evening crew in early; a double shift won’t kill anyone. We’re working a disaster case here. Get me some decent staff!”

Claire gritted her teeth. Though she still hadn’t officially met him, there was no doubt in her mind that Logan Caldwell deserved his notorious reputation. Dr. McSnarly. The nickname fit like a surgical glove. Thank heaven she didn’t have to actually work with him—the man looked like he ate chaos for breakfast.

Claire turned to Merlene. “I’ll do the best I can,” she said, then drew a self-protective line. “But only for today. Just until the chaplain comes.”

“Of course. Very short-term.” Merlene began walking away, then stopped to glance over her shoulder. “Oh, a word of caution: Dr. Caldwell hates the idea of counseling. I’d watch my back if I were you.”

Claire hesitated outside the doors to the emergency department. She’d reviewed the summary of steps for an initial critical stress intervention and was as ready as she’d ever be. Considering she’d never done any peer counseling before. I’m a fraud. Why am I here?

She shut her eyes for a moment, hearing the din of the department beyond. It had been stupid to put the CISM training on her résumé. She’d taken the course last fall and participated reluctantly in the mock crisis situations, mostly because it would look impressive on her application for the clinical educator position. But afterward Claire knew that she could never volunteer as a peer counselor. Never. It felt too personal, too painful.

Healing the healers, they called it, the basis for the work of volunteer teams that waded into horror zones after events like 9/11, the killer tsunami in Indonesia, and the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And a Sacramento, California, trauma room after a warehouse fire that killed seven firefighters.

Claire fought the memories. Yes, the counseling teams made sure that caregivers took care of themselves too, assessing them for burnout and signs of post-traumatic stress. Like difficulty making decisions, sleeplessness, nightmares, and relationship failures. Claire knew the symptoms only too well. She’d struggled with most of them herself these past two years, exactly the reason she’d run away from that Sacramento hospital—after refusing its offer of stress counseling—and never looked back.

But here she was at another ER door, peeking inside through a narrow panel of bulletproof glass. And now she was responsible for helping these people deal with everything she was trying so hard to forget and expected to offer the kind of counseling she’d never accepted herself. Beyond ironic—impossible and completely at odds with her plan.

Claire raised her palm and pushed the door inward.

Heal my heart and move me forward. She’d prayed it every single day.

So why was her life slamming into reverse?

The essence of Sierra Mercy ER hit Claire’s senses like an assault. Sounds: anxious chatter, a burst from the overhead PA speakers, beeping of electronic monitors, inconsolable crying, and painful screams. Smells: nervous perspiration, stale coffee, surgical soap, bandaging adhesive, the scorched scent of sterile surgical packs . . . and of burned hair and flesh.

No, no. Claire’s stomach lurched as she clutched her briefcase like a shield and scanned the crowded room for the charge nurse. Find Erin Quinn. Concentrate on that.

She took a slow breath and walked farther into the room, searching among the eddy of staff in multicolored scrubs—technicians, nurses, and registration clerks. She forced herself to note the glassed-in code room, a small central nurses’ station and its large dry-erase assignment board, the semicircular arrangement of curtained exam cubicles with wall-mounted equipment at the head of each gurney, and the huge surgical exam lights overhead.

Claire tried to avoid the anxious faces of the family members huddled close to the tiny victims. Because she knew intimately how much they were suffering. No, much worse than that. I feel it. I still feel it.

When she’d agreed to do this for Merlene, she’d hoped this smaller ER—miles from the Sacramento trauma center and two years later—would be somehow different, but nothing had changed. Especially how it made Claire feel, the same way it had in those weeks after Kevin’s death. Unsure of herself for the first time in her nursing career, she’d been antsy, queasy, and clammy with doubt. Dreading the wail of approaching sirens and jumping at each squawk of the emergency radio. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t shake the irrational certainty that the very next ambulance stretcher would be carrying someone she loved, someone she’d be unable to save, and . . .

A cry in the distance made Claire turn. Her breath caught as the young charge nurse opened a curtain shielding a gurney.

A child, maybe three years old, rested upright in a nest of blue sterile sheets, tufts of his wispy blond hair blackened at the tips—some missing in spots—reddened scalp glistening with blisters. One eye had swollen closed, and his nose was skewed a little to one side by the clear plastic tape securing a bandage to his cheek. The other blue eye blinked slowly as if mesmerized by the drip chamber of the IV setup taped to his arm. An oxygen cannula stretched across his puffy, tear-streaked face.

Beside him, a stainless steel basin, bottles of sterile saline, and stacks of gauze squares sat assembled on a draped table. Burn care: control pain, cool the burn to stop it from going deeper, monitor for dehydration, and prevent tetanus and infection. All the bases covered. Unless the burns are horrific and complicated, like Kevin’s. Unless there is profound shock, heart failure, and . . . No, don’t think of it.

Claire exhaled, watching as Erin Quinn pressed the button on a blood pressure monitor and efficiently readjusted the finger probe measuring the child’s lung status. She made a note on a chart and moved back to the bedside as the child stirred and cried out.

“Mommy?”

“Mom’s getting a bandage on her leg, Jamie, remember?” she explained gently, then caught sight of Claire and acknowledged her with a wave. She called to another nurse across the room. “Sarah, can you finish the ointment on Jamie’s scalp? watch him for few minutes?” After giving a brief report to the petite blonde nurse, she crossed to where Claire stood.

“Good, you found me,” Erin said, noting Claire’s name badge and offering a firm handshake. Strands of coppery hair had escaped from her ponytail, and her blue scrubs were splotched with snowy white burn ointment. She nodded as Claire glanced once more at the injured boy. “Second-degree burns. No explosion trauma, otherwise he’d be on a chopper ride to Sacramento. But Jamie’s got asthma, and the smoke stirred things up. So . . .”

“He needs close observation,” Claire finished. “I understand.”

Erin smiled. “Hey, I really appreciate your coming here. We’ve had a horrible shift, and my staff are workhorses, but the Hester child was a real heartbreaker. We worked a long time to save her, but it didn’t happen. And only last weekend we had the first drowning of the season. Junior high boy fishing on the river. Overall my crew seems to be coping fairly well, but today might be that last straw, you know? So I have a couple of issues I’d like to discuss with you. I can spare about ten minutes to fill you in. Will that be enough to get you started?”

“Yes . . . okay.” Claire tried to recall the details of her review. How much could she offer here? One person couldn’t do more than a brief assessment and let the staff know more assistance was available. At least she’d found the self-help pamphlets. “But first I should tell you that I left a message for the hospital social worker because if an actual debriefing is needed, then a mental health professional is required. That’s policy.” She swallowed, hoping she sounded more confident than she felt. “The debriefing should be done tomorrow or the next day.”

“What?” Erin shot her a look that clearly implied Claire was the one who needed mental help. “Tomorrow? I called you here because we need help now. Didn’t Merlene tell you that?” She pressed her fist to her lips. “Look, I’ve had a lab tech faint, the media’s harassing family members in the waiting room, and an agency nurse threatened to walk out. Walk out, when I’m short-staffed already! I’m sorry if I seem testy, but I’m responsible for the quality of nursing care here. My team needs help, and I’ll do everything it takes to make that happen. Merlene told me you were a trained peer counselor. Aren’t you?”

She hated herself. Erin Quinn was right. Claire needed to do whatever she could for these people. Somehow. She reached into her briefcase and grabbed a sheaf of glossy pamphlets. “Yes, I’ve been trained. And I can start an initial assessment, get things going in the process. I promise I’ll do as much as I can to help, and . . .” Her voice faltered as heavy footsteps came to a stop behind her. She fought an unnerving sense of déjà vu and impending doom.

“Help?” A man’s voice, thick with sarcasm, prodded her back like the devil’s pitchfork.

Claire turned, several pamphlets slipping from her fingers.

It was time to officially meet the newest threat to her plan, Dr. Logan Caldwell.

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