The Prayer Box

( 121 )

Overview

ECPA 2014 Christian Book Award Finalist!
When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the ...

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The Prayer Box

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Overview

ECPA 2014 Christian Book Award Finalist!
When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper—the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi. Tyndale House Publishers

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Journeys begin with one single step, as Tandi Reese discovers in Wingate’s masterful exploration of the road to redemption. Tandi is a single mother of two children with a checkered history. Flight from her adult past leads her to North Carolina’s Hatteras Island, a place where she’d found comfort during her tumultuous childhood, to a cottage owned by Iola Anne Poole, an older resident and sometime town pariah. When Iola dies, Tandi is charged with clearing the older woman’s large house—and in doing so comes across spiritual treasures beyond compare. At times both sweet and sad, soul-warming and heartbreaking, the accessible writing style and attention to detail serve to enrobe readers in the love poured into weaving together the lives of Iola and Tandi in a meaningful, rich way. Relatable characters and vivid portrayals of events both current and historical create an enchanting, memorable pilgrimage into the fullness of faith and love. Agent: Claudia Cross, Folio Literary Management. (Sept.)
ForeWord Reviews
Wingate writes with a sensitivity and lyricism so effortless, weaving a community atmosphere with a comforting story of personal healing
Booklist
With a careful eye to detail and a beautiful, lyrical style reminiscent of those of Mary Alice Monroe and Patti Callahan Henry, Wingate vividly sets Tandi’s struggles in a once beautiful Victorian mansion now falling to ruin and guarded by a cranky cat in a small town recovering from the ravages of a hurricane. [Starred review]
Romantic Times Book Reviews
Readers will delight in this gorgeously written, true gem of a novel. Wingate has a way with phrasing that makes one stop and savor certain passages because they are incredibly meaningful—not only to the telling of the tale, but to the reader’s own life. Realistic characters and a saga of life, love, and rebuilding make a gorgeous treat. [Top Pick]
Library Journal
Running away from her past, single mother Tandi Jo Reese rents a cottage on Hatteras Island, but when her elderly landlady dies in her sleep, the task of cleaning out Iola Anne Poole's big house falls to Tandi Jo. Tandi comes across 81 decorated prayer boxes containing notes: pieces of a life well lived. In them, Tandi finds not only redemption but peace with her past. VERDICT Two-time Carol Award winner Wingate (Blue Moon Bay) has written a moving and inspiring story with interesting female characters and a colorful Southern backdrop. A good option for fans of Nicholas Sparks and Mary Alice Monroe.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781414386881
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2013
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 40,162
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, inspirational speaker, and the author of more than twenty mainstream fiction novels, including the national bestseller Tending Roses, now in its nineteenth printing. She is a seven-time ACFW Carol Award nominee, a Christy Award nominee,
an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, and a two-time Carol Award winner. Her novel Blue Moon Bay was a Booklist Top Ten of
2012 pick. Recently the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa, Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.

Xe Sands has more than a decade of experience bringing stories to life through narration, performance, and visual art, including recordings of the Nightwalkers series from Jaquelyn Frank. From poignant young-adult fiction to powerful first-person narrative, Sands’ characterizations are rich and expressive and her narrations evocative and intimate. She has received several honors, including an AudioFile Earphones Award for her narration of The Sweet Relief of Missing Children by Sarah Braunstein, and was named Favorite Debut Romance Narrator of 2011 in the Romance Audiobooks poll.

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Read an Excerpt

the prayer box

A NOVEL


By LISA WINGATE, Sarah Mason

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 Lisa Wingate
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4143-8825-0


CHAPTER 1

When trouble blows in, my mind always reaches for a single, perfect day in Rodanthe. The memory falls over me like a blanket, a worn quilt of sand and sky, the fibers washed soft with time. I wrap it around myself, picture the house along the shore, its bones bare to the wind and the sun, the wooden shingles clinging loosely, sliding to the ground now and then, like scales from some mythical sea creature washed ashore. Overhead, a hurricane shutter dangles by one nail, rocking back and forth in the breeze, protecting an intact window on the third story. Gulls swoop in and out, landing on the salt-sprayed rafters—scavengers come to pick at the carcass left behind by the storm.

Years later, after the place was repaired, a production company filmed a movie there. A love story.

But to me, the story of that house, of Rodanthe, will always be the story of a day with my grandfather. A safe day.

When I squint long into the sun off the water, I can see him yet. He is a shadow, stooped and crooked in his overalls and the old plaid shirt with the pearl snaps. The heels of his worn work boots hang in the air as he balances on the third-floor joists, assessing the damage. Calculating everything it will take to fix the house for its owners.

He's searching for something on his belt. In a minute, he'll call down to me and ask for whatever he can't find. Tandi, bring me that blue tape measure, or Tandi Jo, I need the green level, out in the truck.... I'll fish objects from the toolbox and scamper upstairs, a little brown-haired girl anxious to please, hoping that while I'm up there, he'll tell me some bit of a story. Here in this place where he was raised, he is filled with them. He wants me to know these islands of the Outer Banks, and I yearn to know them. Every inch. Every story. Every piece of the family my mother has both depended on and waged war with.

Despite the wreckage left behind by the storm, this place is heaven. Here, my father talks, my mother sings, and everything is, for once, calm. Day after day, for weeks. Here, we are all together in a decaying sixties-vintage trailer court while my father works construction jobs that my grandfather has sent his way. No one is slamming doors or walking out them. This place is magic—I know it.

We walked in Rodanthe after assessing the house on the shore that day, Pap-pap's hand rough-hewn against mine, his knobby driftwood fingers promising that everything broken can be fixed. We passed homes under repair, piles of soggy furniture and debris, the old Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station, where the Salvation Army was handing out hot lunches in the parking lot.

Outside a boarded-up shop in the village, a shirtless guitar player with long blond dreadlocks winked and smiled at me. At twelve years old, I fluttered my gaze away and blushed, then braved another glance, a peculiar new electricity shivering through my body. Strumming his guitar, he tapped one ragged tennis shoe against a surfboard, reciting words more than singing them.

Ring the bells bold and strong Let all the broken add their song Inside the perfect shells is dim It's through the cracks, the light comes in....


I'd forgotten those lines from the guitar player, until now.

The memory of them, of my grandfather's strong hand holding mine, circled me as I stood on Iola Anne Poole's porch. It was my first indication of a knowing, an undeniable sense that something inside the house had gone very wrong.

I pushed the door inward cautiously, admitting a slice of early sun and a whiff of breeze off Pamlico Sound. The entryway was old, tall, the walls white with heavy gold-leafed trim around rectangular panels. A fresh breeze skirted the shadows on mouse feet, too slight to displace the stale, musty smell of the house. The scent of a forgotten place. Instinct told me what I would find inside. You don't forget the feeling of stepping through a door and understanding in some unexplainable way that death has walked in before you.

I hesitated on the threshold, options running through my mind and then giving way to a racing kind of craziness. Close the door. Call the police or ... somebody. Let someone else take care of it.

You shouldn't have touched the doorknob—now your fingerprints will be on it. What if the police think you did something to her? Innocent people are accused all the time, especially strangers in town. Strangers like you, who show up out of the blue and try to blend in ...

What if people thought I was after the old woman's money, trying to steal her valuables or find a hidden stash of cash? What if someone really had broken in to rob the place? It happened, even in idyllic locations like Hatteras Island. Massive vacation homes sat empty, and local boys with bad habits were looking for easy income. What if a thief had broken into the house thinking it was unoccupied, then realized too late that it wasn't? Right now I could be contaminating the evidence.

Tandi Jo, sometimes I swear you haven't got half a brain. The voice in my head sounded like my aunt Marney' s—harsh, irritated, thick with the Texas accent of my father's family, impatient with flights of fancy, especially mine.

"Mrs. Poole?" I leaned close to the opening, trying to get a better view without touching anything else. "Iola Anne Poole? Are you in there? This is Tandi Reese. From the little rental cottage out front.... Can you hear me?"

Again, silence.

A whirlwind spun along the porch, sweeping up last year's pine straw and dried live oak leaves. Loose strands of hair swirled over my eyes, and my thoughts tangled with it, my reflection melting against the waves of leaded glass—flyaway brown hair, nervous blue eyes, lips hanging slightly parted, uncertain.

What now? How in the world would I explain to people that it'd taken me days to notice there were no lights turning on and off in Iola Poole's big Victorian house, no window heat-and-air units running at night when the spring chill gathered? I was living less than forty yards away. How could I not have noticed?

Maybe she was sleeping—having a midday nap—and by going inside, I'd scare her half to death. From what I could tell, my new landlady kept to herself. Other than groceries being delivered and the UPS and FedEx trucks coming with packages, the only signs of Iola Poole were the lights and the window units going off and on as she moved through the rooms at different times of day. I'd only caught sight of her a time or two since the kids and I had rolled into town with no more gas and no place else to go. We'd reached the last strip of land before you'd drive off into the Atlantic Ocean, which was just about as far as we could get from Dallas, Texas, and Trammel Clarke. I hadn't even realized, until we'd crossed the North Carolina border, where I was headed or why. I was looking for a hiding place.

By our fourth day on Hatteras, I knew we wouldn't get by with sleeping in the SUV at a campground much longer. People on an island notice things. When a real estate lady offered an off-season rental, cheap, I figured it was meant to be. We needed a good place more than anything.

Considering that we were into April now, and six weeks had passed since we'd moved into the cottage, and the rent was two weeks overdue, the last person I wanted to contact about Iola was the real estate agent who'd brought us here, Alice Faye Tucker.

Touching the door, I called into the entry hall again. "Iola Poole? Mrs. Poole? Are you in there?" Another gust of wind danced across the porch, scratching crape myrtle branches against gingerbread trim that seemed to be clinging by Confederate jasmine vines and dried paint rather than nails. The opening in the doorway widened on its own. Fear shimmied over my shoulders, tickling like the trace of a fingernail.

"I'm coming in, okay?" Maybe the feeling of death was nothing more than my imagination. Maybe the poor woman had fallen and trapped herself in some tight spot she couldn't get out of. I could help her up and bring her some water or food or whatever, and there wouldn't be any need to call 911. First responders would take a while, anyway. There was no police presence here. Fairhope wasn't much more than a fish market, a small marina, a village store, a few dozen houses, and a church. Tucked in the live oaks along Mosey Creek, it was the sort of place that seemed to make no apologies for itself, a scabby little burg where fishermen docked storm-weary boats and raised families in salt-weathered houses. First responders would have to come from someplace larger, maybe Buxton or Hatteras Village.

The best thing I could do for Iola Anne Poole, and for myself, was to go into the house, find out what had happened, and see if there was any way I could keep it quiet.

The door was ajar just enough for me to slip through. I slid past, not touching anything, and left it open behind me. If I had to run out of the place in a hurry, I didn't want any obstacles between me and the front porch.

Something shifted in the corner of my eye as I moved deeper into the entry hall. I jumped, then realized I was passing by an arrangement of fading photographs, my reflection melting ghostlike over the cloudy glass. In sepia tones, the images stared back at me—a soldier in uniform with the inscription Avery 1917 engraved on a brass plate. A little girl with pipe curls on a white pony. A group of people posed under an oak tree, the women wearing big sun hats like the one Kate Winslet donned in Titanic. A wedding photo from the thirties or forties, the happy couple in the center, surrounded by several dozen adults and two rows of cross-legged children. Was Iola the bride in the picture? Had a big family lived in this house at one time? What had happened to them? As far as I could tell, Iola Poole didn't have any family now, at least none who visited.

"Hello ... hello? Anyone up there?" I peered toward the graceful curve of the long stairway. Shadows melted rich and thick over the dark wood, giving the stairs a foreboding look that made me turn to the right instead and cross through a wide archway into a large, open room. It would have been sunny but for the heavy brocade curtains. The grand piano and a grouping of antique chairs and settees looked like they'd been plucked from a tourist brochure or a history book. Above the fireplace, an oil portrait of a young woman in a peach-colored satin gown hung in an ornate oval frame. She was sitting at the piano, posed in a position that appeared uncomfortable. Perhaps this was the girl on the pony from the hallway photo, but I wasn't sure.

The shadows seemed to follow me as I hurried out of the room. The deeper I traveled into the house, the less the place resembled the open area by the stairway. The inner sections were cluttered with what seemed to be several lifetimes of belongings, most looking as if they'd been piled in the same place for years, as if someone had started spring-cleaning multiple times, then abruptly stopped. In the kitchen, dishes had been washed and stacked neatly in a draining rack, but the edges of the room were heaped with stored food, much of it contained in big plastic bins. I stood in awe, taking in a multicolored waterfall of canned vegetables that tumbled haphazardly from an open pantry door.

Bristle tips of apprehension tickled my arms as I checked the rest of the lower floor. Maybe Iola wasn't here, after all. The downstairs bedroom with the window air unit was empty, the single bed fully made. Maybe she'd gone away somewhere days ago or been checked into a nursing home, and right now I was actually breaking into a vacant house. Alice Faye Tucker had mentioned that Iola was ninety-one years old. She probably couldn't even climb the stairs to the second story.

I didn't want to go up there, but I moved toward the second floor one reluctant step at a time, stopping on the landing to call her name once, twice, again. The old balusters and treads creaked and groaned, making enough noise to wake the dead, but no one stirred.

Upstairs, the hallway smelled of drying wallpaper, mold, old fabric, water damage, and the kind of stillness that said the rooms hadn't been lived in for years. The tables and lamps in the wood-paneled hallway were gray with dust, as was the furniture in five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a sewing room with a quilt frame in the middle, and a nursery with white furniture and an iron cradle. Odd-shaped water stains dotted the ceilings, the damage recent enough that the plaster had bowed and cracked but only begun to fall through. An assortment of buckets sat here and there on the nursery floor, the remnants of dirty water and plaster slowly drying to a paste inside. No doubt shingles had been ripped from the roof during last fall's hurricane. It was a shame to let a beautiful old house go to rot like this. My grandfather would have hated it. When he inspected historic houses for the insurance company, he was always bent on saving them.

A thin watermark traced a line down the hallway ceiling to a small sitting area surrounded by bookshelves. The door on the opposite side, the last one at the end of the hall, was closed, a small stream of light reflecting off the wooden floor beneath it. Someone had passed through recently, clearing a trail in the silty layer of dust on the floor.

"Mrs. Poole? Iola? I didn't mean to scare—"

A rustle in the faded velvet curtains by the bookshelves made me jump, breath hitching in my chest as I drew closer.

A black streak bolted from behind the curtain and raced away. A cat. Mrs. Poole had a cat. Probably the wild, one-eared tom that J.T. had been trying to lure to our porch with bowls of milk. I'd told him to quit—we couldn't afford the milk—but a nine-year-old boy can't resist a stray. Ross had offered to bring over a live trap and catch the cat. Good thing I'd told him not to worry about it. Letting your new boyfriend haul off your landlady's pet is a good way to get kicked out of your happy little home, especially when the rent's overdue.

The glass doorknob felt cool against my fingers when I touched it, the facets surprisingly sharp. "I'm coming in ... okay?" Every muscle in my body tightened, preparing for fight or flight. "It's just Tandi Reese ... from the cottage. I hope I'm not scaring you, but I was wor—" The rest of worried never passed my lips. I turned the handle. The lock assembly clicked, and the heavy wooden door fell open with such force that it felt like someone had pulled it from the other side. The doorknob struck the wall, vibrating the floor beneath my feet. Behind me, the cat hissed, then scrambled off down the stairs.

Picture frames inside the room shivered on the pale-blue walls, reflecting orbs of light over the furniture. Beyond the jog created by the hallway nook, the footboard of an ornate bed pulled at me as the shuddering frames settled into place and the light stopped dancing. By the bedpost, a neatly cornered blue quilt grazed the floor, and a pair of shoes—the sensible, rubber-soled kind that Zoey, with her fourteen-year-old fashion sense, referred to as grandma shoes—were tucked along the edge of a faded Persian rug, the heels and toes exactly even.

The feet that belonged in the shoes had not traveled far away. Covered in thin black stockings, they rested atop the bed near the footboard, the folded, crooked toes pointing outward slightly, in a position that seemed natural enough for someone taking a midday nap.

But the feet didn't move, despite the explosion of the door hitting the wall. I tasted the bile of my last meal. No one could sleep through that.

The bedroom lay in perfect silence as I stepped inside, my footfalls seeming loud, out of place. I didn't speak again or call out or say her name to warn her that I was coming. Without even seeing her face, I knew there was no need.

Gruesome scenes from Zoey's favorite horror movies flashed through my mind, but when I crept past the corner, forced myself to turn her way, Iola Anne Poole looked peaceful, like she'd just stopped for a quick nap and forgotten to get up again. She was flat on her back atop the bed, a pressed cotton dress—white with tiny blue flower baskets—falling over her long, thin legs and seeming to disappear into a wedding ring quilt sewn in all the colors of sky and sea. Her leathery, wrinkled arms lay folded neatly across her stomach, the gnarled fingers intertwined in a posture that looked both contented and confident. Prepared. The chalky-gray hue of her skin told me it would be cold if I touched it.

I didn't. I turned away instead, pressed a hand over my mouth and nose. As much as the body looked like someone had carefully laid it out to give a peaceful appearance, there were no signs that anyone else had been in the room. The only trails on the dusty floor led from the door to the bed, from the bed to what appeared to be a closet tucked behind the hallway nook, and past the foot of the bed to a small writing desk by the window. Whatever she was doing up here, she didn't come often. What was the lure of this turret room at the end of the upstairs hall, with its gold-trimmed walls painted in faded shades of cream and milky blue? Did she know she was approaching her last hours? Was this where she wanted to die? Where she wanted to be found?
(Continues...)


Excerpted from the prayer box by LISA WINGATE, Sarah Mason. Copyright © 2013 Lisa Wingate. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 121 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(92)

4 Star

(13)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 121 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 30, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Tandi, a single mom with two kids, is untrusting and broke yet t

    Tandi, a single mom with two kids, is untrusting and broke yet trying to figure out how to truly live. She ends up at Hatteras Island - the only place of which she has any good memories. How does she earn a living in a small community rebuilding after a recent hurricane? More importantly, is it possible to repair the damage done to her relationships with kids, especially her daughter, because of the years of neglect, drug abuse and prioritizing relationships with controlling men over them? She is able to rent a small cottage from Iola, a 91 years old lady who then dies alone in her Victorian house. There is some dislike toward Iola from the other residents of the Hatteras Island, so Tandi ends up with the job of cleaning up the large house. She is glad to have a job, but totally unprepared for what she finds - Iola’s prayer boxes. These collection of prayers - this written conversation through Iola’s life and cries of her heart to her Father - opens up the mysteries surrounding Iola. Tandi’s walls around her heart are slowly chipped away as she consumes these prayers. She then is needed to reveal how much Iola was truly a part of this community and a blessing to so many.




    The Prayer Box is beautifully written by Lisa Wingate. The characters were real and honest - some I just wanted to envelop in a big hug, while others just needed a kick in the rump, but that’s life, right!?! The setting and the recent hurricane added their own challenges and benefits to the story. 




    It is a book that touched my heart and I know will touch yours. 




    (I read The Sea Glass Sisters: Novella Prelude to The Prayer Box. It was fun to see more back stories of some of the characters, but it is not necessary to understand The Prayer Box.)




    Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Prayer Box from Tyndale House Publishers. It was not required that I give a positive review, but to solely express my own thoughts and opinions.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 28, 2013

    This story was so beautiful and captured my heart! Iola's story

    This story was so beautiful and captured my heart!

    Iola's story was amazing! Like Tandi, I felt as if Iola is a long lost friend that is so beautiful inside and out! I felt like I was sneaking off to come read more of her story like Tandi when she was sneaking away to come read more letters out of the prayer box in the blue room (when we both should be cleaning)! The heart that Iola had for the families of the Outer Banks was so mind changing for me because in so many little (and big) ways she helped her community without being known. She didn't brag or boast about it, but humbly worked for her Father with joy. Not only that, she prayed over these families and her community with a deep love that comes from the Father. She was so inspiring to me with her words of wisdom that God gave her as well as through the conservations she had with her sister-friend!

    Tandi's story was so heart-wrenching in many places! It was hard to see her want to stop old habits and make a new lifestyle for herself as well as her family, but having the pain and anger from the past keep haunting her. At first I didn't really like Tandi, but as I learned her story along side Iola's I started to soften towards her and ached for the way she viewed herself. Always thinking she wasn't good enough and believing whatever trash talk people told her, especially Gina (I was so glad she stood up to her near the end). I felt that as Tandi learned from Iola that I was too. I was on the same journey with her of believing the words God tells us, rather then the negative words people tell us. Also seeing the river of grace that is constantly flowing around us.

    Beside learning so much from these two stories, I learned so much about what prayer boxes can do in one's life. I have a prayer journal, but learning about where and how prayer boxes originated from the in "Note From the Author" makes me want to start a new tradition in my family! This story definitely inspired me in more ways than one!

    My rating: 5 out of 5 stars (on a side note, the ending was perfect)!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2013

    What a wonderful journey watching Tandi grow. She doesn't think

    What a wonderful journey watching Tandi grow. She doesn't think she has value as a person, but as she reads the prayed of Iola and is embraced by the people of Fairhope she learns she does have value to people and I think to God. I quickly cared greatly about her, I ached as she made mistakes where her children were concerned. I didn't like Ross and the way he put himself first. I received a copy as a book ambassador, I'm so glad I was able to read it.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2014

    Author Lisa Wingate never fails to impress me. I think at this p

    Author Lisa Wingate never fails to impress me. I think at this point I have read every book she's published, and although they are all very different in their concept and storyline; they are rich in meaning and texture. Not sure how else to explain it.


    Out of all of her books, The Prayer Box easily stands out as one of my favorites. Single mom Tandi Reese has been renting a cottage from elderly Iola Anne Poole on Hatteras Island, and after discovering Iola Anne has passed away, she's terrified she will lose any of the precarious stability she's managed to find there. She's hired by the local church to help clean and prepare the "estate", and in doing so discovers 81 carefully preserved prayer boxes, one for each year of Iola Anne's life. Tandi soon finds that each box is a time capsule of sorts and begins to unravel not just Iola's story....but eventually her own, as along the way she is challenged to rediscover her faith and gain some trust in the God who loves her most.


    Ms. Wingate weaves humor, heartache, faith, and transparency in a way that is both unique and touching. This book will not leave you unchanged.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 7, 2013

    The Prayer Box was such a phenomenal read that I had to put it d

    The Prayer Box was such a phenomenal read that I had to put it down periodically just to pray. The story of a single mom trying to find a new beginning and healing will bring tears of joy, sorrow and revelation to the reader. When Tandi finds herself trying desperately to start a new beginning, she is drawn to the letters of an old woman she’s never known. The letters speak directly to God and in them, Tandi finds counseling for her own issues. The unconditional love she has never known, suddenly comes through Christians all around her who demonstrate what love should look like. Tandi and her children find a place of healing, purpose and a bright new future. This book is a must read!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2014

    Touches down to the soul

    Beautiful book...what a story. I did NOT see that twist at the end coming. Review by CherishD

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I'm a North Carolina girl. I grew up in the Coastal town of Wilm

    I'm a North Carolina girl. I grew up in the Coastal town of Wilmington and was well acquainted with the beach, the sand, the surf, the fresh breezes, the old homes, the new-comers, and unfortunately - the storms. The all-so-very-devastating storms that would toss boats from one side of the barrier island to the other or totally snatch them from their very existence. I remember a whole block of ocean front houses disappearing after one of those major storms.

    So being somewhat acquainted with the coastal life, I really appreciated Lisa Wingate's story. She has brought the sand, surf, and storms to life and also the people that perpectually populate the coast. But not only has she brought the North Carolina Outer Banks (farther north than my home area in southern tip of North Carolina) to life in spot-on descriptions, she has woven a story of lives troubled by the social mores of several generations, of dysfunctional families, and how the pain of the past can be faced, and how change is possible. It is the story of the care and bonding of folks who come together to mend storm-ravaged buildings and scared lives.

    This is a story of prayer. Of letting God know your heart and then placing your burden in the hands of God and letting go of it.

    It is a story worth the reading and worth the sharing with others. I'm passing my copy along to another reader whom I know will thoroughly enjoy it. I believe she in turn will pass it along to others. You see good things are to be shared. That, too, is part of the message in "The Prayer Box."DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review by the publisher.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This was not what I expected. Instead "The Prayer Box"

    This was not what I expected. Instead "The Prayer Box" turned into far more than just a story about an old woman who died and a young woman who found some old letters. "The Prayer Box" is a story of hope, of faith, of standing strong in our identity as daughters of the King and not allowing anyone to define us.


    Tandi is so beaten down and nearly destroyed by the time she finds safety in the little bungalow on Iola's property. Desperate for a new way of life for herself and her two children, she's pretty much given up hope. Then she finds Iola, passed into the arms of Jesus, and Tandi's real journey begins there.


    Nothing in this book happens by chance. You can see (and feel) the fingerprints of God on Tandi's life, her son J.T.'s and especially on her daughter Zoey's lives. Even when the less than hopeful events take place, don't lose heart...God has a plan for Tandi.


    Well, actually, Lisa Wingate has a plan for Tandi's life...but I fully believe it is blessed by God to help women in bondage and/or abuse be set free. This is more than just fiction.


    This is a warm and tender hug wrapped up in imaginary characters designed to lead us to the Savior, one page at a time. My copy is a bit tear-stained, or I'd loan it to you. Instead, I'm encouraging you to go and get your own copy and savor the story of two women, born generations apart, working their way toward Jesus.


    Maybe "The Prayer Box" will become your story as well. "The Prayer Box" is published by Tyndale Publishing and is available in bookstores and online retailers. Highly recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2014

    What a wonderful story! I really loved it. Tandi, although th

    What a wonderful story! I really loved it. Tandi, although the mother of a teenaged girl and an elementary aged boy, acts like a teen. She is almost penniless, lives for parties, drops everything for a boyfriend and in the past has used drugs to escape reality. Her daughter parents both herself and her younger brother. Yet, with the death of her landlord, Iola Anne Poole, Tandi is given the opportunity to help clean out the main house and in doing so discovers the real Iola. As Tandi learns about Iola she changes and becomes a better mother and person. She has lots of opportunities to derail – her sister’s arrival, her boyfriend’s possessiveness, her daughter’s rebellion – but as she grows as a person she learns real truth, “All my life, I’d let the ties of blood control me, limit me, define me, yet I’d ignored the ties of love.”
    I highly recommend this book. I really enjoyed watching Tandi go from a self-centered terrible mother to a caring, sacrificing community woman. And I thought the surprise ending was great.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2014

    Great summer reading.  Wonderfully written, unfolding with unexp

    Great summer reading.  Wonderfully written, unfolding with unexpected rich layers.  I found myself waiting with bated breath for Tandi to get back to reading more from the prayer boxes, anxious to learn more about Iola's incredible life.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 17, 2014

    Letters..... I had a hard time reading the first chapter or two

    Letters.....

    I had a hard time reading the first chapter or two until the story line picked up but I am glad I stuck with 
    the book.  It was a wonderful story about a single mom who put her life back together with the help of 
    her deceased landlord's prayer boxes. 

    Tandi is a single mom to her daughter and son who arrived on Hatteras Island looking for a place of
    refuge.   Tandi is afraid to trust all the right people and instead trusts another guy who has no time for
    her kids.  Thankfully there are others in the community who love her children and help take care of them.
    The people in the community are willing to help two strange children who are newcomers but didn't have
    the time of day for Iola Anne Poole whose cottage  Tandi  and her children rented.  While reading the
    letters in the prayer boxes Tandi discovered that even though people didn't like Iola Anne that didn't
    stop her from being generous to those around her in need.  Tandi is able to return the favor by helping
    to save Iola Anne's house.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 16, 2014

    I thought this story moved a little too slow in the beginning.  

    I thought this story moved a little too slow in the beginning.  I am so glad I stuck with it.  The Prayer Box was a really good read.  Tandi, the main character, is on the run.  From more than even she realizes.  When she discovers Iola Anne, her entire world is about to be transformed.  As Tandi begins to read the "letters to Iola Anne's father" she begins to find answers to questions she has never asked.  I copied one part of the book; this is Tandi speaking to herself.  "I was looking for myself...  How does one finally move beyond the past?...  Would I always be suffocating inside the mask of trying to find proof that I was good enough, that I was worthy?"  Questions we all ask ourselves.  Sometimes we are too afraid to seek out the answers.  Through Iola Anne's letters Tandi begins to find herself, as she begins to find Iola Anne's Heavenly Father.  Iola herself was so misunderstood.  I loved how Wingate developed both Tandi and Iola Anne through the written letters or prayers that chronicled Iola's life.  Thought provoking, challenging and heart stirring.  A side note.  I didn't realize it was the story that followed the novella The Sea Glass Sisters.  I enjoyed picking up the story with the Sisters as well.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2014

    The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate is the story of a single mom name

    The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate is the story of a single mom named Tandi and her deceased landlord Iola Anne. When Iola passes in her sleep in the big house that is behind the cottage that Tandi lives in Tandi notices the lights aren't coming on anymore and goes and finds her dead. Iola had no one who cared and Tandi had been too busy in her own stuff to get to know her.




    Tandi is a struggling single mother who has lived a life from birth that makes her questions everyone's motives and not trust anyone. She is struggling to support her two children and most of the time they fend for themselves. But she ends up being in the right place at the right time and is asked to help clean out Iola's kitchen for the church. When she happens upon Iola's prayer boxes she begins to learn the story of this remarkable women and begins to learn and change. But in the end what will happen to Iola's house and precious memories? Will it all be destroyed to create flood plains for the rich beach houses?




    This book at first frustrated me. Not because of the writing though. Lisa is a fabulous author. She can really craft words and sentences and paint a beautiful picture. I was so frustrated with the main character Tandi. I mean why didn't she trust anyone and why wouldn't she open up and accept help. It drove me nuts that she would just leave her kids for some guy who she thought was better than the one she had just ran from. I wanted to shake her and tell her to get her act together. But then she starts to change, and the story of Iola's life unfolds and the last half of the book I read in one night. This is a fabulous story and after having read it I think a prayer box is a fabulous idea. You truly must read this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2014

    A must read

    This book was very good. It started out slow, but stick with it. It is a great book. You will be pleased.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2014

    A must-read; highly recommended

    the prayer box is a tale of inspiration and character. the main character rises from the depths of human despair to a place of love and acceptance; she takes the reader and her family with her. As she does, her adopted town will never be the same, nor will her family and reader. enjoy--a must-read for summer or anytime a warm, pick-me-up novel is just the thing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2014

    Great Book!

    Makes you think....all things happen for a reason, according to God's plan!y

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2014

    Highly Recommended! Very Inspirational!

    I began reading this book for a light read but as I progressed through the story I became intrigued. I actually did not want to put it down. It captivated me because of all the good one woman could do without her community even knowing. The humbleness of her character was very inspiring!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 5, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Imagine having to clean out a house and finding letters to God

    Imagine having to clean out a house and finding letters to God from another person. Just think of what it would be like to have an inner look into a person's life through the medium of the written word.

    In the Prayer Box, Lisa Wingate takes the reader on a journey of life from the perspective of seeing it through another's eyes. By reading the letters the reader is brought into a life of introspection and thought. The realization that life is not always simple and reading about another's journey through similar circumstances gives powerful encouragement to keep going, no matter the difficulty.

    I resonate with this because my dad is one who writes a devotional for his sons and I can see how he displays part of who is he, what he has experienced, and how we can learn from it.

    While I am not a lover of fiction, this book is a great way to bridge the theological and philosophical questions one might have while experiencing the life God has given. In that, it is a great read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2014

    Inspiring

    This was a great inspirational read. I couldn't put it down!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2014

    Highly think it is a great book

    This book has everything Love mystery and a life's goal to meet. I loved it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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