Forgotten Children Worldwide features The Slave Across the Street

images1The Slave Across the Street, the bestseller I co-wrote with Theresa Flores, was featured in our local newspaper. Theresa and I will be at the Forgotten Children Worldwide dinner and auction in Bluffton on
February 8.

Slave’ co-author to speak at Forgotten Children event

Theresa Flores, the subject co-author of “The Slave Across the Street,” will speak Feb. 8 in Bluffton during the Forgotten Children Worldwide dinner and auction.

Flores co-authored the book with PeggySue Wells, of Roanoke. The book recounts Flores’ experiences as a teen in an affluent Michigan neighborhood forced into sexual trafficking.

Forgotten Children Worldwide, based in Bluffton, has as its mission assisting orphans and vulnerable children throughout the world. The dinner and silent auction will be held in the Wells County 4-H Building with doors opening at 4:30 p.m.. Ticket information is available by calling 353-1580.

“The Slave Across the Street” was on two best-seller lists in May, at number five in the nonfiction e-books category of the Wall Street Journal list and at number 85 on the USA Today best-seller list.

Wells, who has written a dozen other books, is currently hosting a writers’ workshop at the Roanoke Public Library, with sessions on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. The workshop, sponsored by the Roanoke Library and the Roanoke Lions Club, is open to the community.

Get your copy of The Slave Across the Street at:


Special Price on The Slave Across the Street

Sharing with you this announcement from my publisher, Jason Chataw at Ampelon Publishing. ref=sr_1_1

We’re running a special on the eBook version of The Slave Across the Street around National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11th. The special will go from the 10th to the 15th for 99 cents and will be available on most platforms like amazon, B&N, Apple and Kobo.
Spread the word!

The Slave Across the Street is the true story of an upscale Detroit teen caught in sex trafficking. This is a riveting look at human trafficking from the inside. The book includes tips to recognize trafficking in your community, and how you can protect your loved ones.

Number 5 on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list, and number 85 on USA Today’s bestseller list, The Slave Across the Street is the book I co-wrote with Theresa Flores. This biography of Theresa’s is an audio finalist and is optioned for a made-for-TV movie. Grab your copy at this special rate.


Talking Pigs

A tip of the hat to friend, author, and illustrator Mary Coons on the release of her long-awaited Pig-Tale. Think E.B. White and you have a flavor for The Piglys and the Hundred-Year Mystery.

Mary is a talented artist with a vocabulary that surprises. Put the two together and marinate for several years in her creative muse and the result is this great story. Surely destined to be a classic.

Watch this clever trailer about the Piglys.

The Conductor Was Sore Afraid

Merry Christmas! Here is a classic Christmas tale from my family to yours.

Participating in the annual church Christmas pageant gave me the erroneous impression that the humble barn where Jesus was born was a quiet setting. The crowning moment of each December’s extravaganza was the Nativity scene. Dressed in bed sheets and their fathers’ oversized bathrobes, all the children solemnly sang Silent Night.

Then I moved to the country, got my own barn, and had my own birth in the stable.

Drought forced a farmer to sell livestock, including a soft-eyed, pregnant mare.

“She’s just like Mary,” my children implored. “She needs a place to have her baby.”

So this innkeeper found room in our stable for the mother-to-be. A baby monitor allowed us to hear what happened in the barn during the night. Birds in the rafters supplied a cacophony of twittering, mice scampered through hay, and horses slurped their feed before rustling through straw to bed down. Once asleep, the horses groaned while they napped and passed gas so loud we thought the mare was giving birth, and dashed to the barn at 3:30 a.m.

Following weeks of false alarms, the baby was born in her own time on a night I was too sleep-deprived to tiptoe to the barn. What an exquisite wonder that morning to discover a newborn in the stable.

That’s why this year’s Christmas pageant was my favorite. “Let’s have live animals,” the music director crowed.

Opening night the staging was elaborate. The well-rehearsed choir took its place. The orchestra began on the downbeat. “Joy to the world,” the audience joined the choir as the words appeared on the overhead. “Let men their sons employ.”

Choreographed to mask the noisy rearrangement of animals on stage, the pianist’s solo was a wasted effort. The keyboard was unplugged. From behind the curtains, the audience heard the trainer smooching at the donkey who was reluctant to come on stage and was more reluctant to walk off.

The violinist’s microphone was not on, as the wise men bowed before the wailing Christ child. Mary and Joseph tried to look holy while sheep nibbled their robes, between burping and chewing their malodorous cud.

At that moment a runaway sheep left his post and dashed about the little town of Bethlehem. Engrossed by the drama, the drummer forgot to drum. The conductor looked up from conducting and paled as the speeding sheep fairly leapt into his arms.

By the second performance the “g” was added to sons, the keyboard and violin found their plugs, and fencing was added for the sheep. The rest of the performances went without hitch, but my favorite was opening night. It seemed a better reenactment of what probably happened in that starlit stable many years ago.

PeggySue and her children currently have two horses because horses are like potato chips – you can’t have just one. 


Nutcracker Suite’s Russian Dance performed by the Anderson Youth Ballet at the Paramount Atmospheric Theater in Anderson Indiana.

What Advice Would You Give?

I want to hear from you!   9780825439308-copy-16

If you could share helpful advice, a practical tip, or a word of enCOURAGement for a single mom, what would you say?

Send your contribution for my upcoming project and be entered into a drawing for the book Unstuck; Your Life. God’s Design. Real Change. by Arnie Cole and Michael Ross.

Let me hear your suggestions today!


Relative of the Heart

Today we say good-bye, see you later in heaven, to one of the grandest men I have known.

Dale Alles has been my neighbor for 18 years, and a family member since we moved to 1000 North in Roanoke. At 17 he asked his dad to sign for him to enter the World War II theater where he served aboard the USS Monterey. Returning home he married Naomi, set to farming, and the couple raised the finest ten kids. Dale can tell you the unique strengths and winsome traits of each of his children, and their children, and his children’s children.

The original family entertainment, the Alles family played for events, specializing in fiddle music. You oughta hear them play Orange Blossom Special. Twice yearly three generations get together in the Alles barn to play, sing, and dance. Dale is a dynamite caller. Don’t know how to square dance? No experience required; someone will teach you. The barn dance draws people from across the nation and for good reason. There is nothing more Americana than three generations together playing Johnny Be Good followed by the Star Spangled Banner in the middle of a cornfield.

Somewhere along the way, Dale found room in his heart to adopt a few more kids. The Wells family quickly referred to him as Grandpa Dale. He taught my son how to tie a tie, encouraged my kids in their music, stood proud at my son’s Civil Air Patrol ceremonies, showed up at a soccer game or two, and looked dapper at my daughters’ weddings.

Dale lived a life of integrity. He faithfully loved his wife, was devoted to his children, loved God, built a community, and watched over it in his senior years. He had a ready laugh, smiled often, and saw the best in each person. Generous, he lived life to the full. He did it right.

Not surprising, his big heart that had room for so many finally got full, and at 87 years old, Dale transferred his address to heaven. One of God’s greatest gifts to me and my family has been Grandpa Dale. He is our relative of the heart and those are the richest kind.   Picture 145


For Extrodinary Gifts, Shop BeadForLife

Unique gift idea: Give a gift or three and at the same time provide an opportunity for women to support themselves and their families. This is a win-win! photo-1

Here is Christmas shopping that makes a difference in the lives of Ugandan women and children. Purchase recycled paper bead earrings, bracelets, and necklaces handcrafted by women in Uganda. BeadforLife shea butter lip balm and lavender soap are also available for purchase so you can Look Good, Do Good, and Feel Good this holiday season. With prices ranging from $4 – $28, BeadforLife items make unique stocking stuffers and meaningful gifts.

Order jewelry online at

BeadforLife creates sustainable opportunities for impoverished women to lift themselves out of poverty by creating a circle of connection between women in Uganda and women around the world. Women in Uganda work hard to roll beautiful bead jewelry out of recycled paper and harvest shea nuts to make shea butter. Women worldwide sell these items and educate themselves and others about extreme poverty. All profits support efforts to end extreme poverty around the world. 9780825439308-copy-16

Inverted Jenny is Airborne Again

Here is a unique gift idea with a touch of treasure and a place in history. This is perfect for eccentrics, collectors, children, grandchildren, and those who read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  upside down Jenny stamp

Eager to celebrate the first airmail flight, the Post Office issued in May of 1918, the Inverted Jenny postage stamp with the image of an upside-down Curtiss JN-4 biplane, making it the most famous error in American philately (the study and collection of stamps). Only one panel of the 100 Jenny Inverts was ever found. In 2005, a block of four sold at a Robert A. Siegel auction for $2.7 million.

I am not suggesting you purchase a million dollar stamp as a gift. But here is something just as fun. The Inverted Jenny has been reprinted as a $2 stamp. Except for the 100 that have been purposely printed right-side up. The contemporary Jennys are sold in blocks o’ six Willy Wonka style, packaged so you cannot see the stamps because 100 of the new sheets actually show the airplane flying upright. A note is included with the right-side-up rarities, alerting buyers to their true nature.

The $2 Jennys are a gift that gives twice. The replicas are collector items. If the package holds a block of the rare 100, the collection will be better than a trip to the chocolate factory.


Have a Party!

Have a party!
What is there to celebrate for the single parent? Wherever you find yourself this season, God is there with you!!! As surely as God was there for the three in the fire, for the woman at the well, for the woman caught in adultery and brought before Jesus, for the Ethiopian on the road, for the thief on the cross, God is in it with you and me wherever we are. Now. Today.
It’s not about the date, but the spirit. If your children are away this year with the other parent on the actual holiday, send them off without guilt. Celebrate your own Holly-Day when you are together. Here are fresh and fun suggestions you can afford.

1) Scavenger Hunt: Whether birthdays or graduations or Christmas, how about a scavenger hunt at the mall? Make a list of items to hunt (pair of striped pajamas, green shoes, piggy bank, funny t-shirt, you in a store window display) and take photos with your phone camera. Come back together at a designated time to compare and share over snacks – laughs guaranteed. Frozen yogurt or cake brought to the mall food court, or meet up for $5 Elmo’s large pepperoni pizzas.

2) Costume Hide and Seek. This is hugely fun for teens and parents. Dress up with your own clothes, trade clothes with others, or challenge party-goers to purchase outfits at Goodwill for $5.00 or under. Put on the disguise and blend in at the mall. Hide in plain sight. How long will it take the finders to recognize and locate each person?

3) Caroling Party. Too cold in Indiana? – sing to stores in the mall, go to retirement homes, ask to sing at the hospital, visit businesses. Return home for bowls of hot chili-tos – Chili poured over fritos.

4) “Cuz we need a little Christmas, right this very minute….” Decorate your home for Christmas before your children go off to their other family. Give them the assurance that the holiday is alive and awaiting their return. Drink eggnog.

5) Ornament Party. Decorate your tree with memories – make awards and favorite toys into ornaments. Invite friends to bring their own memories along with glue, ribbon, fabric scraps, etc. Drink tea and eat popcorn as you create ornaments unique to your family. So much better than storing these keepsakes in a box in attic! Glue and weave sports medals, 4-H fair ribbons, toys, and photos to wreaths.

6) Nativity Party: Invite friends to decorate with you for the holidays. While hot cider simmers, together pull down the decor from the attic and everyone decorates. Save the nativity scene for last. Read the nativity story in Matthew and Luke aloud while children place nativity pieces as they appear in the story.

7) Little House on the Prairie Party. With a prairie theme, read a Little House Christmas book from the library. Let little ones mix up a box of corn bread, or if you are brave, yeast rolls. Place cream in a jar and children roll it back and forth to each other on the floor until it becomes butter. String popcorn to hang on the tree. Make pulled taffy for dessert. Each child can bring a sock from home to hang by the fireplace. As party favors, fill each sock as they did back then with an orange, a 10 cent candy stick, and a toy from the dollar store.

8) Bring your favorite book party. Popcorn and apple juice in pajamas with favorite blankets and pillows on the living room floor while kids read or have read aloud their favorite kid stories – Seuss, Give a Mouse A Cookie, I Love You This Much, All the Places to Love, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, The Giving Tree, …

9) Make A Gift Party: Kids of single parents often have a difficult time shopping for gifts for their parent. Have a gift-making party making gifts for others from parents to teachers to Sunday school instructors, to siblings. Consider baked goods, video messages, easy photo albums and calendars through VistaPrint, beaded bracelets, handprints on pillowcases, thumb-print stationary, fill jars with beans and attach a recipe for Nine-Bean Soup or homemade chili. Shop Pinterest for ideas. Use your imagination. Recipe for Nine-Bean Soup: 2 quarts water, chopped or dry onion, 12 ounces mixed beans, one pound any kind of meat, one can any type of tomatoes added after beans are soup-soft. Simmer all day in the crock pot, or cook faster on the stove.

10) Queen Esther Party. Everyone decorates crowns from construction paper. Make noisemakers by dropping pennies in empty soda cans and taping the top closed. With crayon, write the name of Haman on the bottom of your shoes. Read aloud the story of Esther from the Bible. Each time the name of Haman is mentioned, everyone stomps their feet, shakes their noisemakers, and boos. This is Jewish Purim tradition. Afterward, make and eat hamanstashan cookies.

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup butter

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup orange juice

  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • Combine ingredients. Form into cookie-sized triangles. Fold edges up. Spoon preserves into center. Bake 12-15 minutes in 350 degree oven.

Guarding Your Castle

Week 12: Guard at the Castle Gate 9780825439308-copy-16
Keeping watch over our children’s safety

Can single parent homes be healthy families? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”

And it takes effort and diligence.

God is aware of our challenges to keep our children safe and he cares for us as we protect our little ones. Isaiah 40:11, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

What are the characteristics of healthy families?

  • Open communication. There are no family secrets.
  • Good listening skills. Family members are valued and listened to without interruption.
  • Unconditional love and commitment. They trust each other.
  • Appreciation and affection for one another.
  • Respect for one another and the passing on of solid values. They share responsibility for the family and are supportive of each other.
  • A spiritual focus.
  • Special family times and traditions.
  • Skills for dealing effectively with stress and crisis.

Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Though our natural heritage may be shaky, our Spiritual family is populated with such Hall of Faith nobles as Boaz, Ruth, Queen Esther, Daniel, Deborah, and the two Josephs.

Traditions are touch points in family relationships that serve as relationship glue. Investing a steady stream of thoughtfulness and respect throughout the year is insurance against crisis. What family traditions do you share with your loved ones?

  • Family devotions
  • Attending church together
  • Prayer together
  • Favorite recipes
  • Favorite songs, movies, and books
  • Memorable places

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Parents protect children physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Jesus gave the care of his mother to John. Have you established a family trust? Designate a safe person that could care for your young ones if you are unable to do this yourself.

Look Back: What are your send-off and re-entry traditions when the children visit the other side of the family?

Moving Forward: Like a Willow tree, practice bending so the strong, volatile emotions of a situation blow by. Lean on the Lord. Ask for wisdom, provision, and protection.