Mary's Website

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Best Suitcase

I didn’t have far to go that sunny summer day. My yard would do. I was seven-years-old, had a giant suitcase in hand, and a world of adventures to explore.
I set the best suitcase in the world down on a blanket and opened its rusty latch. My fingers plunged into a pile of my mother’s old dresses, soft, delicate fabrics, until I came to what I was looking for—spiky high heels! The kind I’ve never worn since. My feet slid into those over-sized beauties and my ankles wobbled like I was on a tightrope. I thrust my arms into a baggy dress, not caring a bit that it looked more like a sack on me. A hat for my head and a doll in a stroller and I was the best-dressed gal on her way to tea with the Queen of England or dinner with a famous actor or shopping with a million bucks in my purse.

Pretend was my pastime. My world. I indulged in it.

I can’t remember my kids having a special suitcase for dress-up clothes. More like a box or a bucket. But they were big fans of playing dress up. They’d outfit themselves as Davy Crockett or whichever hero we’d last read about. They even put a costume on the dog! Thrift-store shopping added resources to their collection. A football helmet. An outlaw’s bandana. Cowboy boots. A wooden gun. Costumes and accessories added layers to their world of pretend.

As a storyteller, the imagination I cultivated as a child has helped me freely explore what-ifs. And as a director of Youth Theater, I’ve found kids with a healthy imagination make great actors who easily step into that other world onstage and truly make us believe.

If I still had children in my house, this is what I'd do for summer fun. I’d grab a suitcase from the closet and fill it full of dress-up clothes, hats, wigs, purses, jewelry, and props. Five or ten bucks at a garage sale or 10 items for $1 day at the thrift store and they’d discover worlds where only their imaginations can take them.

A world of fun and delightful experiences.
Imagination at its best. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book Blast: At The End Of Our Journey by JACK R EAST JR $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

End of Our Journey
At The End Of Our Journey

About the Book

At the End of Our Journey is a personal testimony of the life and Christian faith of the author. The inspiration for the book came from two incredible and powerful dreams about Jack's Christian faith. The dreams were experienced in November of 2010 on two consecutive mornings. Jack awoke from both dreams with precise and detailed memories of the events and emotions felt during the dreams. He can recall all of the events of both dreams two years later. To be able to remember all of the details of both dreams is very unusual for him and for most other dreamers. The two dreams did not reveal anything new about his Christian faith. The first dream expressed all of the doubts, fears, and questions that all followers of the Christian faith have asked themselves many times. The second dream was a direct confirmation from God that all of the promises of the Christian faith are true and will happen for all who believe in Christ's redemption and follow his teachings. Words cannot adequately describe the events and emotions of the second dream. The author has difficulty finding words to describe the emotions experienced in his dreams, but he can share the following conclusions about his dreams and the Christian faith with you.
He experienced the finality of knowing that he had died. He knew the joy of knowing that his Christian faith allowed him to conquer death. He felt hope and joy to know that his spirit had conquered death and was rising into Heaven.

He was overcome with joy, peace, contentment, fulfillment, and the sure knowledge that the only place he could possibly be was in Heaven. No other place could feel so good and right. He cannot adequately describe how it felt to know that God was there to welcome him to Heaven where he heard his powerful and loving voice say to him,

"Jack, I am glad you are here, I have been waiting for you."
How could he describe hearing God's welcome end with the following words...

"but, I am not ready for you yet."
At the End of Our Journey is Jack's attempt to share with you the wonderful experience of his life, dreams, and Christian faith. His wish is that you may also know the joy of the personal presence of God in your life and feel the full depth and beauty of His powerful love. And that you may receive a taste of what awaits for us at the end of our journey of Christian faith.

Jack East

Jack was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in September of 1940. In 1945 his family moved to Southern California where he lived for 30 years. He started his journey of Christian faith in 1956 at the age of sixteen. Jack married his wife Barbara in 1961 and their marriage has lasted for over fifty years. Jack started his career as a CPA, and he and Barbara started their family while living in Southern California. Jack and Barbara moved to the far north coast of California in 1975. Jack continued to work at his accounting and tax practice as he and Barbara raised a family of three great sons. Their boys and their spouses have provided them with four precious grand children. Both family and the Christian faith have always been important parts of the life of Jack and Barbara. At age 72, Jack is still working at his accounting and income tax practice with Barbara's help. Retirement is under consideration, but it is not their greatest priority at this time. In November of 2010 Jack experienced two incredible dreams about his Christian faith. The dreams were the inspiration for writing a book and for this website. The dreams have started a new chapter in the life and Christian faith of Jack R. East, Jr. at age 72.



Enter to Win a $50Amazon Gift Card!

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book Blast: Winter's Past by Mary E Hanks $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Winter's Past (2nd Chance Series)

By Mary E Hanks

About the Book:

Ty wants to make things right. Winter can’t forget their past.

Winter Cowan is scheduled to speak in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. A city she’s avoided for ten years because of Ty Williams, her ex-husband.

But what are the chances of Ty showing up in church? And didn’t she already forgive him? Even though he broke her heart and ruined their short, six-month marriage? She had to forgive him to go on with her life. To preach the gospel. To share God’s love across the nation. Then, like a tidal wave, the word "Forgive" crashes over the worn sands of her past. Winter realizes her heart does still rip a little each time she remembers what Ty did to their marriage. To her.

And just as she feared, Ty shows up at the meetings in Coeur d'Alene. Only this man is someone she wouldn’t recognize if she saw him on the street. He’s older, sure, but he’s…different. Radically changed from the guy she once knew, he stands before her in a prayer line, crying—crying!—and humbly asks her forgiveness. This man who broke her heart, betrayed her, is now gut-wrenchingly sincere in his apology, prays for her like a long-lost friend, tenderly reaches into the forgotten places of her heart, and he has a request.

One unbelievable request that could change everything...

Mary E Hanks

WWMary E Hanks is an author of 2nd chance stories and a playwright/director for youth theater. When she's not writing novels, she's usually working on a play. She loves encouraging young people to share their talents, and an added bonus is getting to "see" her words brought to life onstage. At present, she's directing her 24th production.

Mary served as a pastor’s wife in Alaska and also worked in Christian education for many years. She and Jason have been married for 37 years and have raised four children. They now live in the country near Blanchard, Idaho, a place where deer and wild turkeys play in their front yard.

A romantic at heart, Mary believes we all need a 2nd chance sometime.

Follow Mary E Hanks Website | Facebook | Twitter

Enter to Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card! 

Enter below to enter a $50 amazon gift card, sponsored by author Mary E Hanks! a Rafflecopter giveaway This book blast is hosted by Crossreads. We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

Blessed are the hungry...

You mean, hunger is a good thing?

Have you ever been really hungry? You've had a crazy-busy day. Dinnertime rolls around, and you realize you didn’t eat breakfast or lunch. You smell pizza cooking, and every olfactory receptor stands at attention. Oh, yes. You are ready to devour anything edible in sight.
Hunger brings longing. An aching need for fulfillment. In the same way, if that longing is for God, to know Him, to experience Him, to delight in Him, then hunger is a good thing. A life-changing thing.
In the presence of God, we find joy, peace, an amazing realization of love, and a confirmation of all the promises He’s given—and so many other things. And the best way I know to transform into God’s realm is through worship. Spending time alone with my Savior. Praising Him.
Worship resolves anxiety. Soothes my troubled spirit. Brings rest. Peace.
When I get lost in worshiping the Lord, it humbles me as I forget my surroundings, the pressures of the day, my to-do list, and worries. Focusing on the Lord brings me close to Him. The magnificent One. The author of peace. The one who died for me. Suffered for me. Rose again so I could too!
Why do I forget sometimes?
Life gets hectic. I spend more time asking for things in prayer than simply bowing at His feet in worship—or dancing before him in the hills. Oh, to delight in Him. To love Him beyond measure.
When we get hungry, really hungry, we are blessed. Satisfied. And yet, like tasting a scrumptious brownie fresh from the oven, we only want more.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. Mt 5:5
My soul finds rest in God alone;  Psalm 62:1  

Only You are righteous and holy,
You are faithful and true,
Only You by Your grace and Your mercy,
Change my life so all can see…Only You.

(“Only You” written for Winter’s Past by Lance Simmons & Mary Hanks. You can listen to this song at

Friday, June 7, 2013

New book offers program activities for summer camp or summer school.

When school lets out for summer there will be a variety of programs for youth to keep them busy during the summer months. The directors of these programs will be interested in a new book, Day Camp in Hawaii.  This book offers a summer camp program for elementary age students that can be used by any youth group, camp or summer school program.

“When I was in charge of Cub Scout Day Camp, I thought the best part of the job was coming up with all the activities, games, crafts and songs needed for the program,” the author, Paula Hrbacek said. “Later, I worked for Campfire and the YMCA doing after school and summer programs. They used a theme for each week of camp, too.  Even though they were different programs, they still used games, songs and skits.”

It was difficult for Hrbacek to find enough activities for a week of camp using a tropical theme.  Instead, she wrote her own activities such as the deaf sign language hula dance.  She rewrote the song “Tiny Bubbles (in the wine)” and turned it into “Mighty Cub Scouts in a line.”  It meets the Cub Scout requirement for using sign language, but if the name of the organization is changed, it could also be used to meet Girl Scout requirements for dancing and singing as well.

Writing her own activities was the easy way to come up with an original and fun program.  Hrbacek  majored in journalism and art at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She’s the author of three arts and crafts books and one novel. Currently, she writes about children’s arts and crafts for the Panama City edition of The Examiner, a free online newspaper. In addition to her publishing credits in Highlights, Pack-o-Fun and other magazines, she has a degree in elementary education from Pensacola Junior College and experience teaching art in a Catholic school.

A stay-at-home mother of four, Hrbacek has fifteen years experience leading Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts. She received the District Award of Merit from Boy Scouts for her work on the Cub Scout Summer Day Camp Program. She was also given the Girl Scout Outstanding Volunteer Award for her work with Juniors, Cadettes and Senior Scouts.

"I did a similar event for Girl Scouts at Cluster Camp," Hrbacek says.  "Many of the activities in this book can be used for that program, too.  Other leaders came up to me and asked where I found all the ideas we were using, so I tried to make the book meet as many program requirements as I could, and make it adaptable to as many situations as I could.  It isn't just for day camp; it can be used at family camp, a church outing, Webelos overnighter, Cluster events, a Mom and Me sleepover, or even just a troop or pack's campout for a weekend."

“The attendance record is a brilliant idea,” said Roy Smith, the air rifle instructor at the camp. “She saved herself a lot of paperwork with that one.”

Shannon Drake-Bleakney, a Cub Scout Day Camp Director in Indiana said “I was very impressed by your Day Camp In Hawaii ebook.”

Day Camp in Hawaii has everything a summer program needs; games, sports, crafts, art projects, Hawaiian lore and trivia facts, geology, skits, songs, guest speaker suggestions, first aid, CPR, tourism, music and dance.  It also includes money saving tips, time savers, and organization and management tips. Every activity has an introduction that is educational, and a closing thought that reinforces a basic value, such as honesty, hard work, and friendship. 

The activities are grouped into two age levels. Lower level activities are for grades K to 3.  Upper level activities are for grades 4 to 6. 
“This is a great book,” commented Laurie Flynn, an artist in Pensacola FL.  “There are a lot of great ideas in here.  It gives a leader a lot of choices.”

Campers who participated in these activities when Hrbacek ran it as a camp program said it was “awesome” and “the best camp ever.”  Leaders commented the program was “well organized” and “easy to do”.

Day Camp in Hawaii is available from Amazon and Barnes & Nobel as a paperback, Nook or Kindle.  Bookstores can order in quantity from Create Space. 

Day Camp in Hawaii
Published by Create Space
Book store discounts and bulk orders:
Individual copies available at Amazon and Barnes & Nobel
Paperback, Nook and Kindle editions
132 pages, 8 ½ x 11