Friday, October 4, 2013

Elusive Hope Pre-Release Party Week 1

Welcome to the ELUSIVE HOPE Pre-release party!!

I'm giving away a Signed copy of the book or an E-copy (your choice) every week. In addition, I'm giving away to one lucky winner on the last day:

  • Chocolate covered Brazil nuts
  • The Body Shop Brazil Nut Body Butter
  • Package of Ground Brazilian Coffee

Sorry, but winners of the paperback book and the final prize must be in US or Canada, but winners of the Ebook can be anywhere.
I'm pulling the winner of the grand prize from every comment, so if you comment each week, your chances are better to win!

The actual release date is November 1st, but we'll be partying every Friday this month in preparation for the big event! This is how it works.  October 4th, 11th, 25th and November 1st (all Friday's), I'll be posting something unique about the book, an in-depth look at the characters, the theme, storyline, etc. I'll also have a "Quess what the character will say next" contest toward the end of the month, plus the unveiling of the video trailer!

You can purchase the book at  AmazonBarnesAndNoble, ChristianBook.com, DeeperShopping

On Oct 18th, we'll be taking a slight party break because I'm taking part in a HUGE Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt !  If you've ever participated in those, they are a Blast! And there's lots of prizes to win. Anyway, more on that later.

Now, let's meet Magnolia Scott !


Magnolia Scott

Brief Description: Magnolia was born and raised a privileged Southern Belle on a cotton plantation in Roswell, Georgia. And she looks the part! With long hair the color of sunshine, eyes as blue as sapphires, and a figure to put Helen of Troy to shame, Magnolia was never devoid of suitors vying for her hand. That is, until a confidence man swindled both her heart and her father’s fortune on a bogus railroad investment. Forced to sell their plantation to pay the debt, the Scotts move to town when the Civil War breaks out, robbing them of their remaining money.  Now, nearly destitute and branded with a questionable reputation, Magnolia finds that no man of substance and pedigree will ever want her. To make matters worse, her father blames her for all their misfortune and insists it is Magnolia’s duty to use her beauty to find a husband with both a good name and a grand fortune through which they can restore their family honor.  He constantly criticizes Magnolia for every infraction in her appearance and repeatedly tells her that her only value is in her beauty. Consequently, Magnolia suffers from a severe lack of confidence and an obsession with her appearance. Even so, she manages to attract the attention of a prominent lawyer from Atlanta who is more than willing to marry her. However the man doesn’t have enough money for her father’s tastes, so instead of agreeing to a wedding, he sells what little they have and moves the family to the jungles of Brazil where they join with other Southerners to create a new Southern Utopia. Magnolia is devastated and does everything she can to escape Brazil and find her way back home to her fiancĂ©.

Strengths: Passionate, Feminine, Charming, Kind-hearted, Smart
Weaknesses: Insecure, Spoiled, Selfish, Manipulative, Seductive, Vain
Quirks:  Magnolia is constantly fiddling with her hair, tucking loose strands into her bun and making sure everything looks proper and good.  She is terrified of not looking pretty enough, which comes from a father who constantly criticizes her for her appearance, while at the same espousing her beauty as her only good quality.  Magnolia also has a tendency to babble on about things due to her insecurity.

Inspiration: I drew my inspiration for Magnolia from so many women I see today who are more obsessed with their outward appearance while neglecting the important qualities on their inside such as character, goodness, kindness, self-control, gentleness, forgiveness..etc.  Our culture is so outward focused that everywhere you look there are books, magazines, TV shows, etc. . . that tell us how we can look our best. Cosmetics alone are a Billion dollar industry, and don’t get me started on plastic surgery. While it’s fine to want to look your best, God doesn’t care so much about our appearance. Our youth doesn’t last long. Our appearance is fleeting and unimportant.  What lasts are the eternal qualities we foster in our souls. This is what God cares about.


Question: Can you relate at all to Magnolia?  What do you think is the cure for our culture's obsession with appearance and how can we avoid getting caught in the trap? 

Please leave a comment with your email to be entered in the contest!!

Have a great Weekend!!


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130 comments:

  1. I really enjoy your books! I can't wait to read the next one. I would love to win a paperback copy of it.
    Thanks and God Bless,
    Kim in NC
    kimosborne(at)earthlink.net

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  2. As the saying goes, "looks can be deceiving". It is true that man looks on the outside but God looks on the inside. It is what's inside that really counts. I'm not really sure if there is a cure for all of this obsession to look good but I myself have never fallen into that trap. With me, what you "see" is what you get.
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    Janet E.
    von1janet(at)gmail(dot)com

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  3. I cannot relate very well to your character but the story sounds interesting. I hope to enjoy reading how Magnolia grows into a more rounded person. Thank you for having this giveaway. I look forward to getting to know more of your characters during this month.
    cthrn.lmnsk@gmail.com

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  4. I cannot relate to Magnolia at all. I've never been one to obsess about my looks.

    I think trusting in God and knowing that He loves us matters more than what we look like.

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  5. Thank you for the opportunity to win your book!

    rdotson113002@gmail.com

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  6. I can not relate to Magnolia. My parents where wonderful and excepted me as I was. They encouraged me in everything I did, and I'm grateful for that.

    To day young girls are told that looks are everything and are pushed to have great looks and body. This is a sad thing for these girls because they think the only way to get anywhere in this world is by their looks. They need faith and believe in God that he will lead them where they should be and parents that encourage then in what they do.

    I loved the review on the your book and would love to read it.

    dian429@yahoo.com

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  7. Your book sounds like a good read. I'm more like her that I would like when I was in my 20's I tried some face cream it caused a horrible breakout on my face and I looked like I had the measles. I was very self conscience about it
    Now that I'm older I don't care about the wrinkles I figure I have earned everyone of them.

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  8. I see people checking their appearance and making what little changes they feel is necessary even when they should be paying attention to something else. I try to stay presentable, but not obsess over it.

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  9. I can't relate to Magnolia at all, I never worried about my looks when I was younger and now as I am older, any lines and wrinkles I have, I have earned them. Your book sounds really good.
    Jean
    skpetal at hotmail dot com

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  10. I can relate to Magnolia ,when i was a teen i always worried about what people thought about how i looked and acted,i don't really care now that i'm an adult. I think the tv and magazines showing people mostly only when they are made up beautiful and wearing the most expensive nice looking cloths. Im not really sure how to avoid the trap its pretty much everywhere and cant be avoided.

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  11. Yes I can relate to Magnolia! I am always checking the mirror and messing with my hair. It drives my husband crazy. I'd love to read this book. Thanks for the chance. : )
    makeighleekyleigh at yahoo dot com

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  12. I guess I do not want to judge Magnolia and most grow into being more comfortable with themselves as they age.
    One interest I have in the book is Southerners moving to Brazil; I found many Italians moved to South America as I did my genealogy research. Appreciate the giveaway.

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  13. The settlement in Brazil of US Southerners during the Civil War period is fascinating. I can't imagine being a beauty and having that beauty used against you as you have described in this story. Throughout history, though, women have been little more than currency to fathers determined to use them as bargaining chips to gain a better station in life for the father or family. I can understand, though, the need to put one's best foot forward by looking one's best as expected of one's family.

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  14. I agree that our society is focused on outer appearance. Thank you for the giveaways, books sounds interesting.

    arieljo12(at) hotmail(dot) com
    -Janella

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  15. focus more on God and less on ourselves allow Jesus to shine through truly making us beautiful. Thank you for the chance to win!
    ljbayer44@gmail.com
    LJ

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  16. I think if we are OK with who we are, our outward appearance is not as important. So, if we work on the inside, everything else will be fine.
    bettysunflower@hotmail.com

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  17. I'm excited (again!) about your next book!! And yes, I can relate to Magnolia. Not exactly in her circumstance, but in how girls/women are affected by the relationship with their parents...particularly their father. I've experienced this in in my own life, and in the lives of so many women I've ministered to in the past 15 years through our apartment ministry. While sinful responses are usually what is seen, frequently its the emotional scars underneath that are binding women give in to the sin. As with the proverbial onion metaphor, I have found that once I meet them right where they are and the power of Christ's love begins to peel back the layers of sin, shame, and self-preservation...voila....women begin to see their true beauty as a chosen Princess in the Kingdom of the one true God. Thanks again MaryLu, I'm looking forward to your book...as always :-) tiaray at sbcglobal (dot) net

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  18. We live in a society where we are more obsessed if we are as skinny as this star or as pretty as that star. It took a long time for me to finally be "comfortable" with myself and I know that it was God who strengthened me.

    Judy
    avonbyjudy2216@yahoo.com

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  19. I 100% agree with you, and I still struggle daily with vanity. Having two daughters is a help in the way of accountability... Just this week, one of them argued with a compliment my husband gave her about her beauty, and I was telling her how to accept a compliment graciously, and she (and my husband!), turned it on me and said then I need to do the same thing when he tells me I'm beautiful. :) tamara_wilkins@ymail.com

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  20. Can you relate at all to Magnolia?
    I think that I can somewhat relate to Magnolia. I'm not obsessed with my outer appearance (unless I'm going to a formal event or a very special church service) but sometimes I do forget it is not what counts on the outside, but on the inside. I'm not saying that we shouldn't look nice...but don't become obsessed like Magnolia was.

    What do you think is the cure for our culture's obsession with appearance and how can we avoid getting caught in the trap?
    I think the cure for our culture's obsession with appearance is to realize who you truly are in the inside.We can avoid being caught in the trap by telling ourselves constantly that I'm fearfully and wonderfully made by God. This is how God made me and everything He makes is good! God never makes mistakes and so I am not either.

    Angelica M.
    hisprincessdaugther (at) gmail (dot) com

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  21. Regardless of what we tell our girls (and ourselves), we are faced with critical magazine covers and air-brushed beauty every way we turn. I am taking hope in the recent trend toward 'real girls' in commercials (ok, it's a REALLY new concept but I'm hoping it's a trend). I'm praying that society will start to appreciate gifts other than beauty as we age. Susan.stitch@sbcglobal (dot) net

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  22. I can relate to Magnolia because I have had friends like her over the years. I haven't really been able to find a way to help them with their obsession.
    I loved the first book in this series and am really looking forward to reading this one. Please enter me in the drawing to win a copy. Thanks!
    cindialtman(at)gmail(dot)com

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  23. Friday, October 4th ....
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Well -- I can certainly relate to Magnolia in the "insecurity", and low self'esteem. Struggled with that my entire life.
    It's a truly sad fact that society places such importance on the 'outward appearance' .... when God is totally concerned with what is going on 'inside' ! Since I can remember, I've always felt that I have not been loved/accepted for "who I am". Through some dear and close friends, and most definitely through God's eyes .... I know He sees me as "the apple of His eye". I have to hang on to that. Knowing how God feels about me, is of much greater importance and value ... we need to keep quoting verses that talks about His love, mercy, goodness, forgiveness, grace, etc -- "How high, how wide, how deep" is His love !!! He loves unconditionally, no matter what.
    Thanks for sharing about Magnolia. SO excited about "Elusive Hope", and the pre-release party ! Can hardly wait !!!
    Take care, and, God Bless, In Him, Brenda brennie7@hotmail.com

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  24. Sounds like a good story, so far. Magnolia looks like Reese Witherspoon. I agree that the world is overly focused on physical beauty, and places little to no real value on the moral, inward character. Can we expect to change its mind? I don't. It's a job for the Holy Spirit to bring conviction and true change. If we don't turn our personal attention toward the things of God, what matters to His heart, then what's left, really, to contend for, other than the things of this world?

    I would enjoy reading about her transformation, and that of her father's, too. pudy68 @ gmail dot com

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  25. I think I (and most women) can relate to Magnolia in some way. One trend I've noticed is how women are expected to "bounce back" to their pre-pregnancy body right after they have a baby. Female celebrities are lauded for how their body looks like 1 or 2 weeks after they give birth! It's so unreal because the average woman doesn't have a personal trainer, nanny, food delivery system, or the time to do what celebrities do. I know they have to look good for their careers but it sets up an unrealistic expectation. I think one thing we can do is to turn off the TV, not look at the magazines/websites that focus on outward appearances. But I admit, it's hard to do.
    Anyway, loved the first book and looking forward to this one!
    garfsgirl@hotmail.com

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  26. I can relate totally to Magnolia. I was raised by parents you could not please. Everything that you tried as a child and teen was met with criticism and ridicule. I did not become obsessed with my appearance though. I went the opposite way in rebellion. It took loving friends as I got older to make me realize how beautiful I truly was in the eyes of our Lord.
    I enjoyed the first book in the series very much and am anxious for the next one!. I have already pre-ordered my copy. Thanks! ldwrncpn@comcast.net

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  27. MaryLu, your writing is amazing! I can relate to Magnolia probably due to being a first-born, first-girl. I have been my whole life trying to learn and be content knowing that God loves my heart so much more. Will add Elusive Hope to my reading list and would love to win a copy. God Bless You! lov2bmom@verizon.net

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  28. I think it is rather sad that our culture has focused on appearance rather than character. We honor celebrities because of their appearance not because of any accomplishments. I have not had the problem, but it must be a burden to think that your only value is based on the way you appear to others. I think this book sounds like a good one. And I hope Magnolia is able to overcome her burden of low self esteem.
    annettena@yahoo.com

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  29. Hi, I haven't been around here for a while as you know, but I got your email this morning and thought I'd check it out.

    Magnolia... I'm not sure if many of us can really relate to her personally, as the truth is that there just aren't that many gorgeously beautiful people out there. Most of us are ordinary wannabes, and that's partly why we obsess about looks and celebrities. While we might not identify with Magnolia, I think we'd like to walk in her shoes for a little while. I admit it, I prefer even my book heroines to be pretty rather than ugly. How silly and unrealistic is that?

    The cure? I think it lies in being honest and starting to practice what we SAY we believe about the importance of the inside over the outside. Personal example, I tell overweight people (very kindly) that God made everyone different and unique, etc. etc. but in my head I may very well be thinking that anyone could lose weight IF they really wanted to. Judging them, basically. We need some sort of balance between health and obsession. And to stop being hypocrites about it.

    This trap is so ingrained in our culture that it's hard to avoid. Concentrating on my own walk with God and focusing on Him is a start. C.S. Lewis said something to the effect that if we could see people as they really are (not just the shells they live in), we'd think they were some kind of god or angel. In other words, a whole different perspective.

    Nice talking to you, Mary Lu. Thanks for your personal note the other day.

    Diane Steward

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  30. I can relate to Magnolia in her obsession with her appearence in a rather unique way. I don't fit the so called norm in society, I'm a true pettite (4' 11") and overly curvy. Trying to buy clothes that fit is a pain. Magnolia has had it drilled into her from birth that appearence is EVERYTHING. I think the cure for our culture's obsession with appearance is to stop using young teenagers as high fashion, adult level models. The Miss America/Universe contestants must be at least 5'5", can't have red hair and shouldn't be curvy. I think the only way to avoid getting caught in the trap is to strongly encourage companies to realize that ALL people are beautiful and to use larger size, older, shorter people as models. Our Fashion Designers NEED to design for all body types / ages, our schools need to have advertising debunking classes and most of all parents need to help their children realize how beauutiful they are inside and out.

    Mindy :)
    Red Headed, Curvy, Short & PROUD of it!

    Birdsooong@comcast.net

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  31. MaryLu, I am so looking forward to this next book in your series Escape to Paradise. What wonderful characters, romance and adventure you always manage to create and all encased in spiritual principles the reader will never forget!
    Hugs and Blessings, Elva Cobb Martin, Anderson, SC

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  32. It is sad that our culture is so obsessed with outward appearances. We need to be consistently telling our girls that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and the Lord isn't concerned with outside looks, but what's inside - your hearts! ♥
    Kelly Weigandt
    kellyw622@gmail.com

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  33. I cannot wait for this book. I haven't been reading much because of school but I have a stack of books to read and re-read and yours takes up the most space!! I cannot wait!!!!

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  34. Having had a weight problem most of my life, I have felt very insecure about my size. Even when I was not overweight but bigger and heavier than most kids, I was made to feel bad about myself. I guess today it is called bullying, and it is horrible to endure. I am now a grandmother in my "golden years" and still have a weight problem, but now it doesn't seem nearly as important to me except for health reasons. I have medical problems and much of my being bigger than many is caused by things out of my control and inactivity that I have no control over. I think that a lot of the problems today is from the fashion industry, the media, entertainers, and all of those that are visible to the public; to them thin is the only way that people should be and look and that is not realistic. If the fashion and entertainment industry would encourage those shorter, taller, larger people to be stars, then the imagine of the "not so perfect" person would change. Being made to feel inferior due to your outside imagine can cause serious emotional harm to people that have weight or height problems. There should be more news people that are bigger or smaller and more entertainers that we see on t.v. and in movies that are not what is considered "perfect" to the industry and maybe that would help the image of many people fighting with their insecurities about their height or weight. Most people with no perfect features, size, etc. by the public standard are wonderful and kind and caring and sweet people; their outside imagine should not matter to others but it does. And that is a shame. My mother used to tell us that "beauty is as beauty does" and she had three well behaved daughters that were wonderful kids (even if I saw so myself) no matter how chubby or thin we were. Looks shouldn't be top priority in this world. That needs to change and for others to see beauty other than in the external images that are portrayed in every public way. Just my opinion.....

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  35. I can't really relate to much to Magnolia. I come from a family of rather average looks I would say and didn't have a beautiful sister or mother I was always comparing myself with. That being said I try to make the best of what I have!
    As for a cure for societies obsession with appearance, I'm not sure about that.

    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  36. I can't relate to Magnolia too much because I have an awesome Dad, but I do live in Ga! Thanks for holding this contest; it makes Fridays even more fun :)
    Callie

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    1. Oops! Here's the email: genuinegagirl(at)gmail(dot)com

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  37. I think the struggle with putting too much importance on physical looks is widespread partly due to media and our culture. Teaching our daughters to respect and appreciate their spiritual gifts and personality strengths, looking at Scripture (beauty is fleeting), and teaching our sons to value a woman's heart over her body are key in our home. I pray for our children to be confident in who God made them.
    One other thing I've learned to do on a consistent basis is to stop complimenting people on their "beautiful children" and find important attributes to comment positively on. My hope is that the children nearby (as well as the child commented on) who are old enough to hear and understand my encouragement will hear godly character traits held as precious instead of unreachable (and unimportant) beauty standards.
    Thank you for the opportunity to win your new book--I thoroughly enjoy your writing!
    Karen
    karen@fallotfam.com

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  38. I am interested in reading this next part of the story, loved book before. Appearance plays much to much a part of the lives of people, I feel as I have gotten older it is not as important to me. I strive to be comfortable now. accept others better too.
    thanks for sharing today
    Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

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  39. Ordering FORSAKEN DREAMS, Part 1 of this Escape to Paradise series for the public library and it would be great to win part 2 to donate for our Christian fiction patrons. Love the Civil War connection with Brazil, which you don't often see written about from history. Janet Robinson, librarian in South Carolina

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  40. Magnolia, is like many girIs have been friends with over the years. She makes me so sad. To have freedom in Christ is so huge, and I am so thankful for his grace.
    fourlockes@gmail.com

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  41. Sadly, I can relate too, but, lately, I don't care..I would love to read Magnolia's story.I have enjoyed your other books. Thank you for sharing! ~ Juli emeraldelena@hotmail.com

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  42. Can't really related to her. Be more accepting of other people and not just their appearances

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  43. I can relate to Magnolia. Unfortunately the world is all caught up with appearances. Parents, teachers, Pastors, Sunday School teachers, Youth leaders etc. need to remind that God looks on the inside and not on the outside. Our children and teens need to be taught to develop godly inner qualities

    Marylu, I just finished reading The Falcoln and Sparrow and absolutely loved it.

    Thank you for this blog and the opportunity to win the book. I'll be back each week.

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    1. I just realized I forgot to give my e-mail wwchildren@gmail.com

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  44. I can't relate to Magnolia, except for the fact that I'm GA-born and I live here now. :) Love your books, love you and so glad to have you as an author I can count on writing CHRISTIAN fiction. Blessings my friend!

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  45. I am so excited to hear of a new book out from my favorite Inspirational Fiction author (sshhh....don't tell the others!) I always enjoy your books and would love to win a copy especially with your autograph!! Like Magnolia, I have always felt my appearance lacking and have dieted, etc. through the years, but have come to realize with age (and today I am one year older!), that the most important thing about a person is not what is seen. The real person lies within and I am thankful to the Lord for saving me and giving me a hope of a new and wonderful body someday! Thank you for sharing your God-Given Gift of the magic of words and stories....wdecamp@roadrunner.com

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  46. Parents aiming to use children for their benefit is foreign to me; can't really relate much to this woman, or her circumstances.

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  47. Looking forward to this one. I can't relate to the beauty part, but sure can to a lack of confidence. Love the adventure in your stories.

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  48. Joyfulhutch[at]msn.com

    I can relate, though I dare say I WISH I looked like Reese (Magnolia) but then again, if it worked against me, not so much. You know I've written books about women who thought snagging a guy through sex appeal would help them find love and satisfaction and it's all a big lie. So how to avoid getting caught in the trap is to avoid watching seductive things and filling your mind with thoughts that tell you being beautiful is the way to find true love. It isn't.

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  49. My experience during teen years was that appearance was everything. Girls judged other girls by outward appearances all the time. I think this has only gotten worse with time and that is why anorexia has become so prevalent. I have also witnessed families that put a great deal of emphasis on looks and size--a person is good or bad based on those things. It is a hard place to be in when looks are the only thing that matters.

    Please enter me!

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  50. So excited about your new book!

    When I was younger I was so caught up in the insecurity of looks. Those awkward teen years, braces and glasses took their toll on me, as did hyper-conservative parents. LOL

    But as I've gotten older, I've become more self-confident in my skin and less concerned about it, although it still rears its head more than I would like. I have been intentional about avoiding magazines that hammer the whole beauty message into women incessantly. It doesn't take much to feel like one doesn't measure up.

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  51. I can relate, I wish I was even a pinch as pretty as Magnolia. The world is overly fascinated with looks and the concept of pretty. I think you should be yourself, now don't get me wrong you still need to be modest and lady-like. A man shouldn't love you because you are wearing a pound of make-up and wearing skin-tight clothing. He should love you for you, how you act and for your personality. He should still think your pretty, but it should be because you look like a super-model. Like my grandmother and mom once said 'Pretty is as pretty does.' It doesn't matter what's on the outside it's what's on the inside that counts.

    Ashley Patterson
    ashleypsalm23@aol.com

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  52. So excited to read this book! Yay! Thanks for sharing a bit about it and Magnolia. I love that name! I think it is well chosen for this character. :)
    I cannot relate to Magnolia in regards to her beauty or vanity .... but I can relate to her insecurity and the feeling of not measuring up. It's interesting that even the ones who I may perceive to be gorgeous can be insecure. Then, I do not perceive myself to be beautiful and wish I could be, and think I can find some self confidence/security in that. Grrrrrrr.
    Of course I know that it shouldn't matter. It doesn't matter to God. But it's a hard thing to get past. So hard for girls and women in our culture. So many females hurting because of all this. :(
    Anyway ... again, I'm really looking forward to this book and getting to know Magnolia a bit better! Thanks!

    mcallister@bmts.com

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  53. I cannot relate to Magnolia. ELUSIVE HOPE sounds wonderful. Please enter me in contest. Thank you for the opportunity to win. augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com..

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  54. I loved Magnolia's character in "Forsaken Dreams" and can't wait to read more about her! And part of that is because I can definitely relate to Magnolia... my grandmother was a model, and consequently my family focused very heavily on appearance (especially as it relates to weight), which wound up with me spiraling into an eating disorder when I was a high school student. It wasn't just looks either; I craved my parents' approval and sought it through a 4.0 GPA as well as my looks, and found it all empty. I'm still on a path learning that God loves me no matter what I weigh or look like, no matter how ditsy or intelligent I appear, and I don't have to work for His approval. Some days are easier than others, but that truth--that I don't have to earn God's love--always floors me when I really stop and meditate on it. Not to sound trite, but when it says in the Bible that "the truth shall set you free"--well, that truth really has set me free. :)

    kateedanahy@gmail.com

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  55. Hey Mary Lu,
    Just wanted to take the time to say thank you for doing this fun giveaway of your new book!
    I have never had the experience of being bullied or made fun of my looks, like magnolia Scott did. I am so thankful that my parents raised me and my sisters in a christian home and also homeschooled us and protected us from that. In today's world if you look pretty you fit in with the group, and if you don't look pretty, then u get judged by your looks and made fun of or worse.
    God is in control and should be the center of our lives. We also need to put our fears and burdens at the feet of Jesus.

    oh.hello.hiya@gmail.com

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  56. Sounds wonderful! I can't really relate to her beauty but I sure can relate to her insecurities. Can't wait to read! crochetsisters(at)earthlink(dot)net

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  57. I live in Georgia, so I can relate to her by our Georgia roots. I'm not beautiful, but am very insecure about my looks and the pressure our culture puts on looks these days are overwhelming! I think more advertisers need to use real, un-retouched photos of people and use people of all shapes and sizes and different ages. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing an article about clothing for people who are more shapely and larger and how/what to wear to make you look smaller...most times they use models that are not the least bit large!!!

    Anyway, I love your books and love this series and would love to win the actual book and I'd read it and do a review on my blog!
    Debbie

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  58. WOW! I cannot wait to read this! I really love who you picked to portray Magnolia for this book. Reese Witherspoon is an extremely talented woman. I actually picked her to portray someone else from another book that I have read on my blog, (Katydid from Julie Lessman's A Hope Undaunted). Even though Magnolia was not one of my favorite characters in Forsaken Dreams, I cannot wait to see her transformation! I am so excited to read I can't even put it into words! Thanks for all the giveaways as well!
    purplefreak13(at)live(dot)com

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  59. Our society is so hard on body issues. I have been overweight most of my life plus very shy and growing up as a preacher's kid wearing all hand me downs I was the target of a lot of teasing. Today's society frowns down on those who are different and causes some to go to great lengths to be thought of as normal. We need to learn to love everyone and stick up for those who are picked on or bullied. Bonnie Traher momtr3@yahoo.com 26 North Mill Street,West Nanticoke,Pa 18634

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  60. I want to start off by saying that I was excited to hear that there is another scavenger hunt coming up this month. I first found your books through the hunt last spring/early summer.

    I can't really relate to Magnolia's obsession with how see looks as I've don't remember a time that I've been that way. I do definitely see it in a lot of people, both men and women, though. I enjoyed seeing the changes is her from the beginning of Forsaken Dreams to the end of the book. I looking forward to seeing where you take her in this new book as well. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

    debbiewilder@comcast.net

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  61. Oh, I can certainly relate. My struggle with body image is a constant one. I'm trying to learn to be content with what I have, while at the same time striving to lose a little weight, but the images the world throws around as "ideal" is something I can never be. And that discourages me from even trying!

    ashley.vanburen[at]gmail[dot]com

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  62. I think our obsessions with ourselves stems from movie stars of today, we strive to look like them so that maybe we can attain the same attention and money they receive. But I love that we are beginning to realize this with posts and such about the difference in size/weight of stars today versus stars from decades ago, such as Marilyn Monroe who was a normal size 12 and not the "ideal" size today of 6. If there were more media about healthy weights for heights we might be able to reconcile our body images to what is good rather than what society thinks we should have.

    Kelsey P.
    tunababe_3@hotmail.com

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  63. One thing I notice is the newscasters all have long hair this year ~ previous years they all seemed to have short hair. Copying the trend, the public seems to go along with the style. New clothes, new color accents in hair and makeup, changing to keep current. Looking to the stars of music, sports, and movies, parts of lifestyles are duplicated and how-to magazines are sold. With her light skin, Magnolia is going to have a tan going soon. I hope she finds when her insides are right, her outside will reflect it. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. I Samuel 16:7
    Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

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  64. I don't think that I'm as obsessed about my appearance as Magnolia, but to a certain degree we all struggle with appearances. I think having the right attitude about my appearance is key. We should take care of our bodies and look our best, not for our glory, but for God's. When life is about me, then I'm just focused on myself. But our lives are to be lived to make His Name great.

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    1. forgot to add my email address: mandaandtom(at)gmail(dot)com

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  65. i am not obsessed, maybe when I was younger but not now star95011atyahoodotcom

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  66. Wow, congrats MaryLu on another awesome book you have coming out! I don't relate to Magnolia, but I have struggled with believing I'm not pretty enough after seeing the beautiful women in movies, advertisements, and the internet. The only thing that has helped me with this struggle is being able to see myself through Christ's eyes and basking in His love. Once I'm able to see/understand His perspective, all the struggles fade away :D Thanks for the giveaway, looking forward to reading this one!
    Blessings, Kara
    wman4jcATaolDOTcom

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  67. I can understand Magnolia's plight, but it's hard for me to relate to such a demanding and unsympathetic father figure. The story sounds absolutely fantastic, though, and I'm looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the giveaway and giving us a peek into the new novel. danandlyndaedwards[at]msn[dot]com.

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  68. I can't wait to read Elusive Hope, you have captured the loss and pain felt after the end of the Civil War.

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  69. I can certainly relate to Magnolia's obsession with appearance. As a teen, I felt "less than" with all the prettier girls in school and when I began my career, I spent most of my money on clothes and cosmetics. I continued this throughout my life, even after my meeting Jesus. I guess I bought into the worldly advertisements. Now, as I enter my 70s, I struggle harder than ever to continue the journey. I do feel, however, that I am not as obsessed about it as I was in the past. I will really enjoy this book!

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  70. Oops..forgot my email addy; jkropid@hotmail.com

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  71. I can relate to on Magnolia's obsession with her outward appearance, I have a tendency to spend to much time looking and prepping myself in the mirror rather than spend time with my Father!

    spanisheyes8761@aol.com

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  72. I used to have a low self esteem about myself because of the abuse I suffered at home. Not only that, I suffered a lot taunts from kids at school because I was disabled and/or because I wore second hand clothing. I overcame this through Theophosic counseling and through support of my friends and church. Jesus was also my number one supporter in getting me through. Today I can look up and not worry about what others think. What matters is my relationship with Jesus, my husband, family.

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  73. I don't think I can relate to Magnolia, but I have thought from time to time that appearance of good looking like in high school was a must, but after seeing what some girls go through to get to be the way they are, is not the thing for me. I see girls dressed up so immodestly where guys are going to think all the wrong things. I can't bare to think of that, but just go with what feels comfortable and is not revealing. Also with those who have all the great stuff or top of the line stuff, I have to tell myself, you don't have the money and be thankful for what you already have, if God wanted you to have it, you'd already have it.

    tlcfinch4(at)gmail(dot)com
    http://poetics-of-life.blogspot.com

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  74. I cannot relate to Magnolia and hope more women these days realize it's what's inside that makes you beautiful.
    mybeach52(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  75. I am looking forward to this release and I am so glad to be turned on to your blog - simply beautiful and fun.
    Magnolia - whether beautiful outside or not - is a common story of a woman giving her value away to another, or having it stolen or squashed by a wolf in sheep's clothing. I am a survivor of abuse that went from childhood to adulthood and it wasn't until I treasured myself and didn't give pieces of me away - rather learned to grow with the right people - that I found the strength and happiness within.
    I think now society tries to dictate, but don't listen, pave your own path, let our daughters, nieces, sisters, and friends fall in love with themselves and their potential. No one holds the power to hurt you unless you give it to them. And we are all unique and beautiful as we are meant to be.

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  76. oh, my e mail - msroset at gmail dot com

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  77. I can relate to Magnolia, to a certain extent. We may not face the same issues, but for me it is a constant struggle, to find out who I am and why I am here. Discovering who you are in Christ, and believing Truth, is essential to combating the lies that our culture tells us.
    nlsquillace@gmail.com

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  78. I can relate to Magnolia, because during my lifetime, I've known a lot of women who fit into her mold. The one way that I feel this cycle can be changed, is in the home. If the Mothers stressed to the Daughters, as soon as they were old enough to understand, about the importance of inner beauty, and how much more importance that has on your life as opposed to outer beauty, I feel it would have a big impact on things. Babies are cute, though, and Mothers want their Daughters to be liked, so they go through the motions, and Daughters fall into lockstep, so to speak, so the cycle continues, like their children are clones, and the Beauty industry jumps with glee. It's sad to think about, but hard to erase from someone who has lived that life. Probe211@aol.com

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  79. Yes, I can relate to Magnolia. When I was growing up it seemed that all the pretty, good-looking girls got the best advantages...for example, they were chosen first to be on school teams, they were picked to help the teacher, and on and on. So I wanted what they had so I wanted to make myself look better. I saw lots of situations growing up where the less-pretty children were overlooked or pushed to the side. Society does that to people...it shouldn't , but it does.JFWisherd(at)aol(dot)com

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  80. I could probably add my voice and say that I can relate to Magnolia. Growing up I've had a father who didn't (and still doesn't) seem to understand the influence he has on his daughter's life; so compliments on how pretty my inner or outer beauty is never really showed up. As I got older more emphasis was put on a healthy lifestyle, including exercise and healthy eating, emphasis on my weight. As a result I have a hard time believing I'm pretty or worthwhile without my exercise, eating, and grades. Thanks to my Heavenly Father, I'm healing, but the influence a father has on his daughter's life is much underestimated for the most part. I think I'll enjoy meeting Magnolia very much :)

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    1. Oops. My email is christimaly@yahoo.com (Nicole Pyo) :)

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  81. Ready to sail, Cap'n!!!!! This is goin' to be quite the party! I will be prayin' fer ye and this new release. May the Good Lord put wind in yer sails and keep yer path straight and true!!!!

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  82. I struggled with feelings of insecurity and low self esteem when I was a kid. And I always wondered what people thought of my appearance. I had to remind myself that God loves me for who I am, not what I look like. If you have confidence in that thought, He will help you with the rest.

    bookwarp(at)gmail(dot)com

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  83. I think the most important thing to do in today's world, is keep rooted in the Lords word. It is so easy to be swept into the harsh ,superficial, acts of humans. But it is SO hard because a lot of times if your not keeping up, then your an outcast. Such a fine line there, but I strongly feel God is the answer to it all.....
    Sherri.l.patton@gmail.com

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  84. I think the most important thing to do in today's world, is keep rooted in the Lords word. It is so easy to be swept into the harsh ,superficial, acts of humans. But it is SO hard because a lot of times if your not keeping up, then your an outcast. Such a fine line there, but I strongly feel God is the answer to it all.....
    Sherri.l.patton@gmail.com

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  85. I can relate to the fact that she is insecure. I have always had my own insecurities. The way the world is obsessed with looks is a real shame to me. People that have truly beautiful spirits can be completely overlooked because they Don't look a certain way. I have found this to be the case in my own life but I just trust In God to bring the right people into my life and I trust in his Word that says I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am His masterpiece and His is the only opinion that truly matters in the end.

    Thank you for the great post and giveaway. I can't wait to read this book!

    Wanda Barefoot
    flghtlss1(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  86. Capt, looking forward to reading this latest adventure:) Praying for your newest release and this adventure:)

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  87. Hi everyone!! Wow, I just got through reading all your comments. I wish I could answer each of you individually. You all have so many different experiences. Some good, some not so good. My heart would soar one minute and then sink the next. I, too, grew up unloved by my father and very insecure about my looks. I felt if I was only pretty enough then men would love me. So I focused on my outside, ignoring my inside and I got myself into a huge mess until God came along and rescued me. That's why I think Magnolia's story will resonate with so many women. Even if you had great parents and were secure with your looks your entire life, (Praise God for that!) you'll enjoy Magnolia's journey. Besides, the man who finally ends up loving her isn't at all impressed with her appearance. :-) I want to thank each and every one of you for your stories. All of you had the right solution. God's love and His value of us, His precious princesses. It's the only answer to our beauty-focused culture. I can personally attest to that! Don't forget to come back next week to learn about the man who loves Magnolia for who she is. :-) Have a great weekend!

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    1. thanks for your response, MaryLu, there's no doubt that EACH of us will be blessed by Magnolia's story and the beauty of your writing!! Thanks so much for holding these giveaways prior to the book release, what a blessing you are to your readers :D SOOOOOOOO happy God rescued you as He did, it's a great testimony and one we all need to hear! You definitely have us intrigued about Magnolia's journey.....that's one of many ways God speaks to me, through great fiction writing like yours :D You also have a great weekend, hugs MaryLu!!

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  88. I definitely can relate to insecurities! My parents were always supportive and never demeaning, however, I have a grandfather who has always been obsessed with what the women in his family weigh and always makes rude remarks. I have to admit that the last time he did this I did not handle it well. It was only a few months ago and made me feel horrible for about a week, making me insecure. I try to work hard to stress being healthy not skinny to my kids, but then remarks like that can undermine what I tell them and what I think. Your book sounds absolutely wonderful!
    Brittany McEuen
    kbmceuen at yahoo dot com

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  89. MaryLu, this book looks so good! I would love to win a copy! I agree that we should concentrate on our "inner beauty" by serving others and obeying God's commandments. The Lord looketh on the heart, afterall.

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  90. I can't relate to Magnolia......never been picky! I am so excited about your new book, MaryLu! Thanks for the giveaway!
    jacsmi75 [at] gmail [dot] com

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  91. I can't really relate to Magnolia, because looks were never that important when I was growing up. I do think many people are obsessed with looks and status and a lot of it is brought on by the media (both TV and magazines). I really hope I am raising my daughter to be a strong woman that knows brains are more important than looks.....and that her faith is the most important of all.

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  92. I've never been obsessed by how I look - or don't look. I'm hoping to relate to Magnolia on some level though.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  93. I have never worryed about my looks just be yourself and not try to be like any one else. There is only one you.

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  94. I can relate to Magnolia sometimes I think...I read this book a while ago because I was lucky enough to get an early copy. I am so excited for when it is finally published so my friends can all read it. Thanks for doing this giveaway! I always llove your pre-release parties.
    nicolemanning (at) att (dot) net

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  95. When I was younger, I think I could relate to Magnolia somewhat. It had nothing to do with my father, who never belittled me or made me feel like my looks were the only thing worthy in me. My issues came more from society. But now that I am older, forgiven by Christ, and have studied Scripture, I no longer really care about how beautiful I am. My worth is found in far more than that.

    emmamalissa(at)gmail(dot)com

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  96. Hey Marylu, thanks for this chance to win a book! I learned from a very early age that I was made in God's image and likeness, that all I had to do was work on my God like qualities to let God's Love shine through me. Thanks for all the Love you give all of us with your posting and emails. Keep the Good word coming through! Paula Preston
    pepreston664@gmail.com

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  97. MaryLu I enjoyed your review . I am so looking forward to reading Elusive Hope . I know it will be awesome . No I cannot relate to magnolia . Someone who is so beautiful and has it all . I would love to win a copy of this to give to my daughter . Thanks and blessings .
    lizd225(at)gmail(dot)com

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  98. MaryLu. Thanks for sharing info on your new book. Can't wait to read it as the setting is so different from most I read. I think we can best counter our cultural obsession with appearances by teaching our children and grandchildren to focus on things above and not on things below, helping them to realize what is important in life. Judy Richards - jrich60@att.net

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  99. I think a lot of our obsession with it comes from Hollywood. They are slowing moving away from it but not quickly enough!

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  100. I guess when I was a lot younger I was worried about the way I looked, but now that I am older I see that shouldn't be the thing that really matters. I have two teenage daughters and sometimes it's hard trying to make them understand that. I know someday they will understand that what's inside is what counts like being kind and having a good heart. They both have those qualities and that makes me happy.

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  101. I can relate to Magnolia's situation. I don't think a beauty but decent. My mother has always criticized everything I do. If I scored an 98 on my exam, she would asked me why can't I scored a perfect 100. If I fixed the window screen, she would find another thing to criticized.

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  102. I have worked with teen girls over the years and have seen too many like Magnolia. They are at an impressionable age and open to the influence of our society's influence. The message if having to be skinny, pretty, sexy, perfect for a male are overwhelming for many.
    The best thing we can do is empower our girls to develop their strengths, accept themselves as they are, and help them learn what is really important in life.

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  103. Sounds like this is going to be a very interesting book, MaryLu. I would love to read it. Love the cover too. As tp the way girls are judged I don't how to solve this problem rather than trying to teach our daughters and granddaughters what is the right way to judge themselves on their looks instead of what Hollywood teaches. But they then get judged in school also. It is a sad situation. Even when they know how GOD feels about how they look, it is hard for them to ignore their peers think and say. And, the clothing companies are very much to blame also. They make things just because there are those who will buy them whether or not they are appropriate for their ages. Then, there are the Mothers who want their daughter to be the most popular girl, instead of just the best of the right and proper ways that GOD expects. Please put me in the drawing. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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    1. MaryLu,

      After reading most of the comments above, you are right on target in writing about issues of the heart that so many people struggle with (regardless of time period). Thank you for your insight, wisdom, and leading us by your characters' examples. I don't think there is a "cure" for society, but for individuals there is always perfect healing in Jesus. I can't wait to read this second book--and especially give it away to someone who is obsessed with their image or feel they don't measure up. :-)

      Hugs & prayers,
      Lora
      (LoraDoncea[at]yahoo[dot]com)

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  104. I grew up with too much emphasis on the "outer" person and I still struggle at times with feeling like I don't quite measure up. We raised our children to know they are blessings from God and developing the "inner" person. My girls look nice but are comfortable with who they are . I think this is an important topic and so many women deal with this conflict in one way or the other. Elusive Hope sounds awesome.
    worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

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  105. I can relate very well to Magnolia's issues with looks and being proper. I have battled with that my entire life and still do. It's a constant back and forth I have with God about my image and my opinion of my self worth. We need to seek out God's view of us and take that into every fiber of our being and never question it. It is He who created us, and it is He who tells us what we are worth to Him.

    This sounds like a wonderful story!! Thank you for the giveaway.
    amccalli(at)gmail(dot)(com)

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  106. I don't relate to Magnolia. Of 5 kids I was the ugly duckling. Never did turn into a swan. My sister was the beautiful one. Only it caused her more problems than it did good. There are far too many women using surgery and beauty products today. I don't know what the solution would be. I look forward to reading Elusive Hope. fishingjan at aol dot com

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  107. Outlaw all mirrors - make it illegal to own one - then we can't see ourselves! Only build people up, not down...to build confidence. Take away the negatives.

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  108. I cannot relate at all to Magnolia. I've never been pretty, still suffer from acne at age 56, and did not come from a wealthy family. I don't know what could help, but even some Christians are so focused on outward appearance, not just physical appearance but apparel. vsox01@yahoo.com

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  109. I don't relate to Magnolia either but I can see why she behaves the way she does with the way her father, in particular, treats her. No matter how good of a home life you have (I had a great one) or how protected you might be, our culture is so invasive that it's still a challenge to maintain the proper outlook on one's appearance/beauty. It really is all about transforming and renewing your heart and mind and believing what God says about us! I look forward to seeing how she matures in this next book. I thoroughly enjoyed Forsaken Dreams!!! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  110. I am so excited about the release of your newest book. I love your writing style and am a big fan of your books.

    I did up a quick post and submitted it on gather. The site is experiencing major problems so to see the post, you may have to refresh the page a few times.

    Don't be discouraged about the number of comments. I will promote it more early next week. The comments will come in at that time. Here is the link: http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474981958671

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  111. I think the reason we are all so obsessed with our outward appearance is because we are all so insecure and vulnerable. We that if the person we have a crush on, or someone who's never thought you worthy (etc...), tell you that you're beautiful, you will be complete, but that's where we all go wrong. The compliments and confirmations of humans with never fill the aching hole in our hearts. Only Daddy Jesus can complete that task. But every time you look in the mirror and say/think: " I wish my nose was smaller," or " I wish my eyes were blue," or " why can't my hair be blonde?" we are actually criticizing the art work of our Creator. For example, say you go to an art exhibition and you find a painting that you really don't like, then you voice your opinion in front of the artist who painted it, imagine how they would feel after that. Well, that's exactly what you're doing when you are unhappy about your appearance. Even if you don't make your complaints aloud, God still hears them. In Psalm 139:2 it say this: " You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar." Imagine that! Before a thought even comes withing range of our mind, The Lord of all knows it. Knows exactly what we have done, are doing and will do long before we do it. And in Psalm 139:14 it says this: " I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." So, you are on of of God's works, right? Which means you are wonderful, right? There is no other conclusion that we can come beside the one that is very clearly stated in this verse; we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Imagine that! YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made! FEARFULLY AND AND WONDERFULLY MADE! So, don't let anybody tell you differently because in the end it's only The Lord's opinion that counts. Yes, the only cure for this malady that the whole world seems to be affected by is to find security in our Papa in heaven and place our trust in Him. Before this epidemic becomes unstoppable, we need to change the view and mindsets people have about themselves and about others. And the only way we can do that is with the help of the One who Created us.
    But overall, don't you dare forget that you are a child of The Great I Am and the King of kings and the Lord of lords, or that you are a marvelous creation!
    This comment is by Hannah

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  112. I think obsession with beauty, etc. is caused by insecurity, & the cure for insecurity comes from a closer relationship with God, study of His word, & prayer. When we walk closely with the Lord, beauty & what people think, become less important, & serving the Lord &, helping others becomes more important - to us.

    bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  113. How wonderful to win a book! I think television was the big push to ths unrealistic focus on apperances. Maybe, probably, less television would help.

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  114. I have known people like Magnolia and others who feel a persons outward appearance is more important that what's inside. It's terrible that our society believes to be rich, prosperous you must have perfect hair, makeup, clothing, teeth, etc. When most beautiful people don't have all of that.
    I would love to read this book so I am hoping I win.

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  115. To answer the first question ( I already answered the other two with the really long one before but forgot to answer the first one. By the way, I apologize for the writing mistakes, i made while I was writing my answer to the last two questions, I was in a rush ): In truth, I think that if we all be honest with ourselves we can all relate to Magnolia. At times were all feel insecure about ourselves and we abide in other humans thinking we will find security, but in the end it will only leave us more insecure and vulnerable and the next time someone wants to abide in us we will feel as though we can't trust anyone by this time, so we will want to abide in them but we won't be able to because we won't be able to put our trust in anyone. The only one in which can fully place all of our trust is the one who created us and breathed life into our dry bones, the one who made us who we are today. This person is God. So put your trust in him and you'll find security in His warm, loving embrace, which will always be around you and open to you.
    This comment was by Hannah

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  116. I'm so excited for this book, MaryLu! I'd love a chance to win a copy!

    You're so right, our culture is so outward appearance focused. I confess to falling into this trap, as I have a slight (huge!) obsession with makeup and the like. After discovering makeup tutorials on YouTube it's nigh on impossible to pull myself away, and before I know it hours have gone by where I have been focused on nothing but my flesh... I think I view makeup as a security blanket of sorts, my confidence I guess, when my worth should come from Jesus and my desire should be how well I shine His light, not how well I did my Kim K highlight...

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting to know Magnolia better. You knew from the first she had a story and it ran a lot deeper than what met the eye...

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    Amanda Stanley
    mrose608{at}gmail{dot}com

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  117. An awful lot of marriages have been unsuccessful because someone chose their partner due to their looks instead of their good qualities. As the saying goes...Good Looks don't last, Goodness does.

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  118. Don't watch TV or read magazines. I have spent my life trying to teach young girls to love themselves for who they are. Some of my daughters' friends thank me.
    jrs362 at Hotmail dot com

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  119. Congratulations on your new book, Elusive Hope! It sounds like a very interesting story. I think many women can relate to Magnolia and her lack of self-confidence and obsession with beauty. It is important to encourage young girls to search for their inner beauty and special talents. Thanks for the great giveaway.

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  120. This book sounds very interesting! Thank you! booknerd88@gmail.com

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  121. My mom gave me wonderful advice that we will always be different and it's a good different in God's eyes. So would love to win wonderful story - great book! truckredford(at)Gmail(Dot)Com

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  122. MaryLu, One reason this goes on is some parents who talk of such as so important, or comparing one child with another. Now-days by bullying, especially by the girls in school. And in this day and age and for some years now, you hear all of this talk of what it takes to be beautiful, and show this sort of thing in lots of fashion magazines, and always on TV too. We need to instill in our kids that they are beautiful enough and always to GOD who made them. And, HE sees how beautiful inside where our heart, soul, our actions show our beauty. That's the important thing. Be careful how you say hurtful things to your children about being dumb, ugly, etc. Teach them about GOD's love for them. Maxie
    mac262(at)me(dot)com

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  123. Is this a story without pirates? It doesn't matter - I love all your writings!

    missionwife AT hotmail DOT com

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