Duck Dynasty’s Missy & Mia Robertson

Duck Dynasty’s Missy & Mia Robertson

Princess[es] in Camo:

“Advice I’ve been given lately, having a middle school daughter for the first time, is this too shall pass,” Missy Robertson says with a laugh of raising daughter Mia, now 14. “God is ultimately in charge but he’s given us the responsibility of leading our children, and as long as we take that seriously, we have fun with them, we’re open, [we’re going to be okay]. Basically, I think the No. 1 thing in raising kids is being honest. Letting them know when you fail. Letting them know when you mess up and apologizing for it, and then they can understand that they can do that too.”

Duck Dynasty may have aired its final episode on A&E Network last spring, but 14-year-old Mia Robertson and her mother, Missy, have found a way for the playful antics among young cousins to live on in a new book series. A fictional take on what it was like filming reality television with family, Princess in Camo (Zonderkidz, $8.99) launched earlier this year with its first two titles, Allie’s Bayou Rescue and Running from Reality. Intended for girls age 8-12, they offer the same blend of relationship building, silliness, family values, leaning on Scripture, and the great outdoors found in Duck Dynasty—but with messages fit for pre-teens and parents as well.

In the series, protagonist Allie Carroway is 12 years old and dealing with the challenges of severe allergies and the embarrassment of fame. In the first book, rumors among producers and family suggest if she has another serious asthma attack, her parents may sell their home and move from the Louisiana Bayou to Arizona, far from the homes and property where they film their reality television show, Carried Away with the Carroways. This was an ailment specifically chosen by Mia to reflect the physical and emotional struggles that she has shared with audiences nationwide. Mia was born in 2003 with a bilateral cleft lip and palate and had her first corrective surgery at three months old. Since, she has also had palate correction surgery (7 months old) and a second lip correction surgery with additional correction to nasal passages (5 years old). In 2014, Mia underwent a major bone graft surgery, in which her physician took bone from her left hip and placed it in the cleft of her upper jaw. Missy explains that the Christian faith the Robertsons vocally cling to on screen has carried the family through it all.

Missy and Mia Robertson will release books three and four of the Princess in Camo series in early September. Dog Show Disaster features famous lap dog Hazel Mae, seen here on a bike ride with Missy.

As Allie’s health challenges follow her through the book series—which will expand to four titles in early September—so do glimpses into the Robertsons’ lives among camera crews. Missy says that while the characters and basic plot of each book were dreamed up by cousins Mia, Bella, Lily, Merrit and Rowdy, there are plenty of nonfiction glimpses sprinkled throughout that give a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to film Duck Dynasty. While filming Carried Away with the Calloways, for example, Allie and her cousins hint at required wardrobe changes and mandatory gun safety training. The Diva Duck Blind, a glittered-duck decorated fort in Allie’s Bayou Rescue, is based on a real hideout Mia and her cousins decided to remodel to help Rowdy Robertson feel welcome after his adoption in 2016. And in Chapter 7, the cousins communicate covertly behind producers’ backs by drawing in the dirt. Missy says that detail was added as an accurate portrayal of the family bond that made Duck Dynasty so appealing to begin with. “Oh, they can read each other’s minds. They understand each other’s looks,” she says. “That’s what happens in real relationships. You can almost finish each other’s sentences. Even though that gave more of a visual—writing in the dirt and things like that—they are very close in real life, and I hope it came across that way in the book. I think it did.”

Ultimately, Missy says the books reflect lessons that are vital to the pre-teen years, including perseverance, family bonds, and sacrificing for those you love. As Birmingham Christian Family parents and youth head into summer and plan for a new school year in the fall, Missy shares four of the lessons found in the book series:

  • Speak Up. In Allie’s Bayou Rescue, Allie’s father tells her not to worry so much, but Allie is quick to inform him that 12 years olds do, in fact, worry quite a bit. It’s a moment that represents a child learning to lean on her parent and a parent realizing his daughter can listen to her own instincts and build her own faith. For Missy, it’s this slow growth toward independence that should make a parent proud. “They are going to have to start making decisions on their own as individuals and not just lean on their parents to make every decision for them. They are going to have to step out on their own and have their own faith,” she says. “That sometimes is hard for parents, especially if it’s your firstborn.”
  • Trust in God’s Love. It’s a matter of bravery to pray for God to remove a specific challenge from your life and know it may not happen. “God has his reasons for doing and not doing what he does and doesn’t do, but you have to trust that God loves us more than anything else on earth and wants that relationship with us,” Missy says. “Sometimes he allows us to go through things to draw us closer to him, to lean more on him, to understand that we need him. The will of God is for his kingdom to grow…. so even though we may not have all the answers figured out, we need to learn that God loves us more than anything. More than the sparrows. More than the trees. He loves us individually.”
  • Resist Poor Influences. Each Princess in Camo book touches on being yourself in the face of peer pressure. In Finding Cabin Six, the cousins are praying and sleuthing to save their favorite Christian summer camp from getting sold to a resort developer. A character named Madison seems to bring out the worst in Allie, who has to decide whether or not to give in and “join that negative club” or show mercy and “extend that olive branch,” Missy says. “A lot of that has to do with the people around you, especially with girls in that age group influencing each other in what to say and how to say it. Each one of those books hit on that a little bit.”
  • Stay Put. As Allie and her cousins dream of a life away from the cameras in Running from Reality, sometimes we’re all tempted to completely rewrite our lives. However, it’s possible God has given us opportunities we shouldn’t miss right where we are. When what used to excite us about life becomes mundane, count your blessings.

In 2015, Duck Dynasty’s Missy Robertson authored the book Blessed, Blessed…Blessed chronicling her family’s journey of raising a child born with a cleft lip and palate. Now she and daughter Mia are co-authoring a series of fiction chapter books for young girls with seasoned Faithgirlz author Jill Osborne. Pictured here are Mia, Cole, Missy, Jase, Reed, and Brighton Robertson.

Finally, Missy hopes parents and girls invested in the Princess in Camo series will look to Romans 5:30 for encouragement—as Mia has done with her cleft lip and palate, and as fictional Allie does in the face of her own health challenges. Faith nurtured in youth builds character, and Missy is proud that her daughter can speak (and write) so freely in a way that credits God for her blessings and perseverance. “She is the epitome of that verse because she is able to rejoice in her sufferings. The world just laughs at that,” Missy says. “Yet Paul was writing a lot of his books in the Bible sitting in a prison cell, saying you should rejoice. That is such an oxymoron to the world. Yet it’s so true…. That suffering produces perseverance that makes you either choose ‘I’m gonna give up’ or ‘I’m gonna trod on through.’ Perseverance of course produces character, and that character gives us all hope.”

 

  • Camille Smith Platt

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Best Books

Best Books

Always Fall Forward

Birmingham author Todd Gerelds’ latest book is a great gift idea for a new graduate or for dad on Father’s Day. Find it at Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts.

I love to watch a great game, especially if a team I favor is winning against a superior opponent. Tell me who the under-dog is, and I’ll cheer them on like the most ardent alumni. Even so, I’ve never really understood why anyone would want to play high school or collegiate football. If I’m going to work that hard and give up that much time for something, I want to get paid for it. I also want to come home with my bones intact.

Todd Gerelds knows why so many young men play football. It’s love. Some guys were simply born to play the game. The same applies to great coaches. In his new book, Always Fall Forward (Tyndale, $17.99), Gerelds offers fifty-two life lessons he learned from his father, Coach Tandy Gerelds. Todd Gerelds first wrote about his dad in his book, Woodlawn, which became a major motion picture recounting the events he witnessed as the son of the longtime Woodlawn High School coach.

Always Fall Forward combines scriptural principles with lessons he learned from his dad. These “coachisms” include concepts such as- pay attention to what’s around you, always speak the truth, give your best effort in whatever task you’re presented with, and always show honor and respect to others.

Author: Todd Gerelds

Football has the potential to build fortitude, responsibility, and discipline. These are virtues which can serve our faith as we endeavor to run the race set before us. One day we will come to the end of our last quarter and we will give an account for our life. When it comes to our faith, let’s leave it all on the field.

-Darrel Holcombe, Owner 
Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts
Colonial Promenade, Alabaster

205-663-2370

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Encounter the Living God & Hope Again

Encounter the Living God & Hope Again

Best Books

Marlo Schalesky is an award-winning author of eleven books and has had more than 1000 articles published in Christian magazines including Focus on the Family.

This week a man told me a tragic story, one of unimaginable pain and loss. The horror which had befallen a good and godly man was so dark and crushing that my attempts to offer words of wisdom and comfort seemed feeble and cliché. I know the Scriptures. I know that God will make all things new and restore all that was lost. But I walked away from the conversation unsure how my own sanity and faith would survive such an experience. Can God be found when life turns into a nightmare, when we’ve exhausted all hope and evil seems to have won the day? The story of Jesus affirms that God’s power and grace can be with us in the deepest crisis, turning darkness into light and death into life.

In Reaching for Wonder – Encountering Christ When Life Hurts, author Marlo Schalesky explores fourteen New Testament encounters with Jesus which turned people’s lives around, bringing healing and hope to those in desperate situations. You’ll meet a Samaritan woman shackled with shame, a leper filled with loneliness, and an outcast wandering among the dead, haunted by the voices in his head. Listen as Jesus calls a child back to life, tells a healed woman to go in peace and be freed from suffering, and whispers away the sin of a wayward woman. Time and again Jesus rescues, delivers, heals, and restores. In each case, when all seemed lost, Jesus showed up and changed everything.

Marlo Schelesky is a superb writer who, in her own words, invites the reader to “walk through the stories of the New Testament. See the depth and purposes of a God whose plans and passion go far beyond our healing. They restore sight. They restore our soul, even in those moments when life hurts the most. Come, dare to encounter the living God, and hope again.”

-Darrel Holcombe, Owner
Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts
Colonial Promenade, Alabaster

205-663-2370

 

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Best Books: Billy Graham

Best Books: Billy Graham

Just As I Am: Billy Graham

When the Apostle Peter stood before the religious powers of his day, he was initially dismissed as a bumpkin from Galilee. Uneducated, unsophisticated, and without social standing, Peter was simply a fisherman suffering from delusions of grandeur, religious riff raff, a wannabe who needed to be put in his place. What they did not know was that Peter possessed something that would overcome all his inadequacies and natural limitations. Peter had God and the gospel of Jesus.

Almost a hundred years ago, Billy Graham was born on a small southern dairy farm. As a young man, he felt a call to preach. Like Peter, Billy was uneducated, unsophisticated, and without social standing. His initial ministry looked less than promising. His first church sermon lasted only eight minutes before he sat down, trembling and sweaty. Billy Graham, however, possessed something that would take him from ministerial obscurity to the ends of the earth. Billy Graham had the gospel.

Just As I Am (Harper One/Zondervan, Commemorative Edition) is an autobiographical account of one of the most remarkable ministers to have ever lived. Billy Graham preached the gospel to more people than any other preacher in history. He preached in small towns and capitals, jails and prestigious universities, country churches and sports arenas. He prayed with Winston Churchill and the Queen, shared his testimony with North Korean Kim Il Sung, and offered spiritual solace to President Eisenhower while he was dying. Graham shared the gospel whenever and to whomever he could, for he believed that the message of Jesus could open the heart of anybody.

In many ways, Billy Graham never changed. He remained a simple man with a simple message. Just As I Am is the story of a man persuaded that no person is beyond God’s reach and that Jesus is the Savior of the world.

Darrel Holcombe, Owner
Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts
Colonial Promenade, Alabaster

205-663-2370

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Love Casts Out All Fear: The Message in Missing Isaac

Love Casts Out All Fear: The Message in Missing Isaac

Best Books

Missing Isaac author Valerie Fraser Luesse grew up in Harpersville, Ala. and lives in Birmingham. She is an award-winning writer and a senior travel editor for Southern Living.

My first memory of racial tension happened when I was a small child, sometime in the mid-1960s. I was very young, so I only remember aspects of the incident. It was summertime, and I was sitting in a parked car with some relatives. The windows were rolled down so we could survive the smothering heat. I remember feeling somewhat bored until the adult who was sitting with us suddenly screamed for us to roll up the windows. A child knows when adults are scared, and I was, consequently, terrified. I remember rolling up the window as fast as I could, accompanied by horrifying descriptions of the potential violence about to befall us. What was the perceived threat that sent so much terror into that curbside car? In broad daylight, on a city sidewalk in Childersburg, Ala., a black man was about to walk by us.

I often thought about that day as I read the wonderful new fiction book by Valerie Fraser Luesse, Missing Isaac (Revell, $14.99). The setting is in the same time period and exact location as my childhood introduction to the complexity and fear embedded within racial distinctions. Missing Isaac is about a young boy whose friendship with a black man changed the trajectory of his life forever, in ways he could never have foreseen. It’s also about class distinctions, which can be as divisive and cruel as racism, even among those who share the same skin color. Missing Isaac is a beautiful story that reminds us that, even in a world filled with evil and injustice, righteousness and love cannot be constrained. It will break free among those who are truly God’s people.

Meet Author Valerie Fraser Luesse March 17 at Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts, Alabaster, Noon-2pm.

I love the writing in Missing Isaac. I love the characters, the dialogue, the storyline, and well, pretty much everything about it. But what I love most is that it redeemed that day in Childersburg, Ala. Despite our insane outbreak of curbside terror, love was still happening all around us. We were simply too afraid to see it. One day we will all catch up to the reality that ethnic, racial, and class divisions simply do not exist within the kingdom of Jesus. In the meantime, we need stories like Missing Isaac to remind us that perfect love, both now and forevermore, casts out all fear.

Darrel Holcombe, Owner
Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts
Colonial Promenade, Alabaster

205-663-2370

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Audrey Bunny by Angie Smith

Audrey Bunny by Angie Smith

Best Books

A great Easter gift, Audrey Bunny is available at Sanctuary Christian Gooks and Gifts in Alabaster.

God must have an aversion to human uniformity. We come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and features. We speak different languages, have accents, eat different foods, and possess distinct artistic tastes. Even the way we practice and understand our faith is diverse, an aspect of religion which some find uncomfortable, but which I suspect God takes great pleasure in. The created order rings with God’s applause of diversity, uniqueness, and individuality.

In her book, Audrey Bunny (B&H Publishing, $14.99), blogger, author and speaker Angie Smith shares a lovely story which teaches children that everyone is special and loved by God. Audrey Bunny, a stuffed toy, is afraid her flaws will make her unworthy of a little girl’s love. She discovers that her imperfections are irrelevant to her owner’s love, and that her uniqueness is something to be celebrated, not hidden.

God does not love humanity collectively. He loves individuals specifically. Our value in his eyes is unassailable. Not even our imperfections and mediocrity can diminish his love for us. We bemoan our weaknesses, but God does not. We are embarrassed by our deficiencies, but God’s love isn’t contingent on our talents or abilities. Audrey Bunny reminds us that God loves all of us, and there is nothing – absolutely nothing, that can change that.

Darrel Holcombe, Owner
Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts
Colonial Promenade, Alabaster

205-663-2370

Author Angie Smith will be in Birmingham February 15 as the featured speaker at the Samford Legacy League’s Scholarship Luncheon. Proceeds provide life-changing scholarships to deserving students with significant financial need. Learn more at samford.edu/legacyleague.

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Life’s Great Paradox: The Power of Humility

Life’s Great Paradox: The Power of Humility

Best Books

In describing his latest book, founder of the Birmingham based Center for Executive Leadership, Richard Simmons shares, “My other books are more to enlighten you and maybe impact your perspective. This book has something you can truly apply to your life and if you do, it will change you.”

If you are looking for just the right way to get your year off to great start, consider setting aside a couple of hours to read Richard E. Simmons, III’s latest book The Power of a Humble Life: Quiet Strength in an Age of Arrogance. Beware, it may cause you to shift or change some of your priorities or goals for 2018 or simply reaffirm what you’ve felt God calling you to do- but it’s worth the time to delve into the subject of “the power in a humble life.” It is Simmons solution to dealing with what C.S. Lewis called the “chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began,” pride.

As I read the book, I could personally relate to walking down the path of pride. It took circumstances that “I could not fix” to make me realize I never was in control in the first place. Up until then, if I just tried a little harder, things went well for me in life- but not this time. It was God’s way of allowing me to experience the power of humility. It was a hard, yet beautiful way to learn it.

Simmons, who has 25 years of experience as a business leader and is the founder of The Center for Executive Leadership, shares real life examples of strength in the humble life including Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, Martin Luther King Jr. and Moses.  “I think it’s one thing to talk theory and it’s another thing to show how it works out in real life,” explains Simmons who admits to the reader his own struggles with pride and how he seeks to cultivate a heart of humility to deal with it. “When we humble ourselves, it helps us counter the pride of self-righteousness.”

Simmons book, The True Measure of a Man, is being used as part of a small group Bible study with inmates in Alabama and Georgia prisons. Each participant receives a prison edition copy of the book and the studies are led by the Center for Executive Leadership with help from volunteers, www.thecenterbham.org.

Simmons offers four significant, personal applications on how to live a humble life including intentional gratitude. “For me personally, the one that is above all, is to intentionally spend time each day giving thanks to God. Going through the issues of life, where you realize all that I am and have is a gift from God. Starting with my life, my health, my wife, our children, our home, our resources, talents and abilities, the job and work I have, the relationships He has blessed me with, extended family and friends and finally, the spiritual blessings,” says Simmons adding, “How often do we thank God for the spiritual blessings of life which are more significant than anything else we have and yet it’s amazing how we take things for granted. That is at the heart of arrogance, we just take things for granted.”

Simmons goal for his latest book is that those who read it will be transformed by it. “One of the most important truths I have learned over the course of my life is that we are responsible for seeking a humble life and cultivating a humble heart. We must therefore realize that humility is a choice that we must first make, and then pursue.” For a free preview of the book, including the first chapter, visit www.thecenterbham.org/product/the-power-of-a-humble-life. The book can also be purchased at www.thecenterbham.org, www.Amazon.com, and at local retailers including The Advent Bookstore, Briarwood Bookstore, The Carpenter Shop, Lamb’s Ears/Crestline and Seibel’s/Homewood.

-Laurie Stroud

Author: Richard E. Simmons III

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Best Books: Eric Motley

Best Books: Eric Motley

Madison Park

Author Eric Motley earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Philosophy from Samford University. As Special Assistant to President George W. Bush, he managed the appointment process in the White House for over 1,200 presidentially-appointed advisory board and commission positions. He currently serves as Exec. V.P. and Corporate Secretary of the Aspen Institute, an international nonprofit think tank. Author Photo: Tony Powell

Around 1880, a group of freed slaves purchased some land not far from Montgomery, Ala. Named after one of its founders, Madison Park became a refuge surrounded by the harsh realities of the deep South. Generations later, a young black man raised in this small town began a journey of faith. Mentored by his family, teachers, and the church, Eric Motley went to Samford University, where he thrived and matured in both grace and knowledge. He went to Scotland to continue his education and thereafter accepted a position in the White House, serving as the youngest special assistant to President George W. Bush.

Madison Park (Zondervan, $24.99) is Eric’s story, but it is also a tribute to the adoptive grandparents who raised him, to the teachers who nurtured him, and to the ministers who boldly proclaimed the word of God to the people of God. It is a tribute to professors and fellow students, politicians and businessmen, and to the many poets, musicians, and authors who, even after death, deeply influenced Eric’s life.

Madison Park is an expression of gratitude to God and His people. As a people of faith, we not only live in hope for what God will do, but also live in remembrance of what God has done. The Jewish observance of Passover and the Christian rite of Communion are calls to remembrance. We are not called to do this alone, but as a community, a holy people who collectively acknowledge our salvation history. We gather to tell our children and our children’s children that God has acted and we have been saved. By love, we become the beloved community. By faith, we become a great cloud of witnesses. By grace, we become Madison Park.

Darrel Holcombe, Owner
Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts
Colonial Promenade, Alabaster

205-663-2370

 

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Lucky to Live in Alabama

Lucky to Live in Alabama

Best Books

Looking for a great gift idea for the young one in your life? Check out author Kate B. Jerome’s new interactive children’s books series Lucky to Live in… which is recommended as a “give your personal best” selection in Parents Magazine’s 2017 Holiday Gift Guide. Designed for children ages 4 to 7, Lucky to Live in Alabama is a cross between a story book and a memory book. Read aloud rhymes and fill in the blank prompts are designed to capture a child’s story- customized to where they live. The book’s well illustrated spreads encourage conversation about local cuisine like fried green tomatoes and interesting places to visit like the McWane Center and the U.S. Space and Rock Center. Additional spreads cover everything from music appreciation and nature to favorite celebrations and goals. Find Lucky to Live in Alabama ($16.99) at Sanctuary Books & Gifts in Alabaster, and for a full list of books in the state series visit www.arcadiapublishing.com. †

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