Sunday, February 14, 2016

Celebrating Valentine's Day with the Inner Beauty Campaign

Jenn Gotzon on the Red Carpet
Today I am super excited to present to you a special interview with Jenn Gotzon. You may remember Jenn from her Words of Faith story featured here on Friday, Feb. 12. 

Welcome Jenn again on this special Valentine's Day! Why is it special? It is special because Jenn wants you to know that whether you are single, married, considered beautiful or not, you are special and made in God's image. So today, Jenn wants to show you how to embrace your true beauty with news of her Inner Beauty Campaign! 

She's also here to talk about her work with China's lead makeup artist Zhen Jixian who also encourages women to embrace their inner beauty and discover what true beauty really means in this modern world.

Today's message is targeted to women but I believe that men can appreciate the message to in the fact that God made us ALL "good-looking" in His eyes! 

So without further ado, on to the interview! 

*Questions from Alexis are in bold and answers from Jenn Gotzon are not in bold. 

Alexis: What’s it like working with China's leading makeup artist Zhen Jixian?

Jenn Gotzon: 
Zhen Jixian, his company, his employees, his school, his students, and his partners are the most generous, kind, thoughtful, giving and joyful people I have ever worked with. The generosity is beyond anything I have every experienced. They have treated my mate Jim E. Chandler and me like royalty. Brother Zhen’s school Jubilee and his family’s unconditional love overflows making the deep connection that is lifelong kindred friendship.

Jenn Gotzon and Zhen Jixian
Share the story of how you became the featured model for Zhen Jixian’s Inner Beauty Campaign.

Zhen Jixian who is otherwise known as "Brother Zhen" which is his American name, hired me to be the face of his conglomerate Jubilee located in Beijing, China appearing on product advertisements, fantasy wall hangings, beauty photobooths, hair salons, skin care, face for his makeup and photography school and many other partners.

The opportunity is so grand, that during prayer at my friend Lisa Miosi/Martin’s wedding celebration in Moravian Falls, N.C., God gave me a vision. The vision was to use the platform as a vehicle to inspire girls about beauty. True beauty, from the lessons I learned modeling for Brother Zhen.

How did I become the spokesmodel? God’s providence. My dear friends from Movieguide, Wendy and Ken Click, introduced Brother Zhen when I was teaching an "Inspiring Audiences, Hearing God" seminar on the park lawn in front of Universal Studios in Hollywood. He selected me because of my passion to impact and inspire people through the brand of movies I strive to make which are uplifting and redemptive with a message of hope. Zhen wanted to hire an American actress or singer who loves God to be his spokesmodel. 

I am truly humbled and honored to serve him and his company Jubilee.

Why did you want to work on this Inner Beauty Campaign with Zhen Jixian?

The #InnerBeautyChallenge is separate from being the spokesmodel for Zhen Jixian’s company and school located in Beijing, China.

What is the Inner Beauty Campaign all about?

Inner Beauty Campaign is actually an exercise for your mind. It is called the #InnerBeautyChallenge. 

When I was taking the modeling photos, I was "focusing on being ____". The blank space was filled with a variety of words from Phillipians 4:8. People commented how "beautiful" the photos were and I saw inner beauty and then I thought, "If only girls could be encouraged too!" So I created the #InnerBeautyChallenge. 

Here's how you can participate in the Inner Beauty Challenge:

1) Select an #InnerBeauty word to Focus on Being: (Examples include: #Lovely, #Grateful, #Noble, #Authentic, #True, #Gracious, #Peaceful, #Honest, #Pure, #Courageous)

2) Write that word on a piece of paper along with #InnerBeauty

3) Take a photo holding your paper

4) Post it on social media, hashtag #InnerBeauty #InnerBeautyChallenge and tag @JennGOTZON

5) Tag a friend, a family member and an acquaintance and give the gift of #innerbeauty by having them do the #InnerBeautyChallenge together.

In what ways do you hope the Inner Beauty Campaign will affect your audience? Who is your target audience? Is this a message only for women? Or can men relate too? Please explain.

My hope and prayer is anyone can renew their mind by focusing on things that can transform their outlook on life, which transforms their heart, which is what is reflected through the eyes and experienced by people as what they identify as “beauty”.

What is your personal story about inner beauty? Share insight to your journey with image and self-acceptance.

After my husband told me he no longer wanted to be married to me after years of fighting for our marriage, I felt unworthy, unlovable and ugly. When the divorce occurred, I began praying and Jesus appeared to me and revealed a love that was all consuming. Jesus began revealing to my heart what beauty is and that I am beautiful because I was created in the imagination of God with a hope and a purpose. That week during this time of prayer is when Zhen Jixian hired me to be his spokesmodel for a 3-year beauty contract.

I pray girls, guys, young, old would experience their true value and beauty like I experienced that week. I hope this #InnerBeautyChallenge can provide that like it did for me.

As a woman of faith, how does your belief in God affect your view of yourself? 

Reading The Supernatural Ways of Royalty (book) has helped me recover from feeling unbeautiful to knowing and believing my image was made by God.

On your website’s Inner Beauty section, you challenge your audience to focus on one word that they want to focus on being in 2016. You’ve received a wide variety of responses but I’d like to know, what’s your one word that you’re focusing on being for this year? Explain.

I am focusing on being #Gracious. The definition of gracious is courteous, kind, pleasant, showing divine grace. As often as I can remember, I try to put on ‘those pair of glasses’ when looking at the world and the people I interact with daily. It has been inspiring.

Here's an exciting opportunity from Jenn for blog readers: 

Every Thursday since Jan. 1, we have selected a winner and asked them to share what they may have experienced doing the #InnerBeautyChallenge. Each winner’s story is posted on Faith Flix Film

If you want to be selected, visit for directions to do the #InnerBeautyChallenge.

What does "true beauty" mean to you?

Have you ever met someone who was full of a radiant love, joy, peace…Did you remember commenting to yourself, "They are really beautiful?" And then, did you ever look close enough to realize they may have challenged imperfections physically but you never saw them because what you saw and experienced was the beauty coming from their heart? That is what true beauty is.

Complete this sentence: I believe that I am beautiful because ____________________________________________.

I believe that I am beautiful because God’s light shines and some days, I am smart enough to get out of the way and let God use me as a vehicle to find moments to encourage those I meet.

Thanks for the interview, Jenn!

Special offer from Jenn Gotzon, the Hollywood edition: Kind-hearted Jenn would like to give you, my wonderful blog readers, a chance to attend her movie premieres in real-life! Yes, this is a REAL offer from a REAL Hollywood actress. You may use your cell phone to text the word INSPIRING to 22828 and Jenn Gotzon will invite you to her movie premieres!

*Standard text-messaging rates may apply when you send that one-word (INSPIRING) text to Jenn Gotzon.

Here are two more special offers from Jenn Gotzon but you have to compete to WIN the LIVE Skype Chat with her or receive a FREE movie in which she is the leading lady! Fill out the contest entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below to participate:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 12, 2016

Words of Faith: Award-winning Actress Jenn Gotzon shares her story

Following your heart vs. being Lead by Divine Inspiration (God)
A Words of Faith story by Jenn Gotzon

When I was a teen, my passion ignited for cinema. I wanted to be an actress in lead roles to inspire and impact viewers’ lives.

My journey began after I accepted Jesus and believed that He is real and my personal Friend, Lover of my soul, Guider of my dreams and the Savior of my life. I would pray and vision would appear on my soul. I would step out in blind faith with my eyes on the vision provided by God, leaping over the ocean waves crashing around me.

I always wanted to be a dancer in Disney World. So I flew down to Orlando, Fla. with two dimes in my pocket, a pair of rollerblades and the vision God put on my heart. I asked for talent, favor, a home, food, a vehicle and a job. God provided each one. I truly saw God in action. It takes our ability to STEP out in faith.

As an adult, I see my logic entering into decisions. I pray for wisdom and seek the peace that surpasses understanding in my direction. I have to be quiet, still and get into a space mentally in prayer, reading Scripture, listening to praise music and journaling. I then visualize Jesus with me. Sitting by me. And I talk to Him. I know that may sound looney tunes, though it is true. I truly experience the providential love from Jesus Christ looking at me as His bride saying, “I am with you. I will never leave you or forsake you. Trust me. Do not fear for I go before you. I will lead you. Trust Me. Go and be Strong and Courageous. Seek Me. Ask Me for wisdom and I will give it to you.”

Recently, the logic, strife, anxiety, stress, advice and tension that arose around a recent job offer was suffocating me. During prayer, a peace settled my soul providing direction to go the opposite way my logic and business team advised. I am stepping out in faith and within hours I’ve already experienced fruit with restoration of relationships, friendships, hope, life, love and creative vision. Finally, I can breathe again. I recognize these attributes as fruit as I begin the beginning steps of playing this character in this new movie.

Life is a series of moments in a great drama. We can choose to make it a comedy or a tragedy. God allows us to choose by our thought life. James 1:2-8 says that we are to “count it all joy” when challenges arise because it allows us to have opportunity to grow in endurance of character. The endurance comes from God commanding us to ask/pray/seek wisdom. Wisdom comes from Godly divine intervention. Pray and step in faith!

Bless you all!


Jenn Gotzon

Author bio: Jenn Gotzon is an award-winning actress whose career was launched with her portraying Tricia Nixon (former U.S. President Richard Nixon’s daughter), in the Oscar-Nominated movie, Frost/Nixon. Since then, Jenn is known as an American leading lady who seeks roles in movies that have redemptive storylines depicting humanity in its truest form who find hope in the climax of the story.

Connect with Jenn: IMDB -
Instagram -
Facebook -
Twitter -
Special Giveaway contest details, the Hollywood edition:
Kind-hearted Jenn would like to give you, my wonderful blog readers, a chance to attend her movie premieres in real-life! Yes, this is a REAL offer from a REAL Hollywood actress. You may use your cell phone to text the word INSPIRING to 22828 and Jenn Gotzon will invite you to her movie premieres!

*Standard text-messaging rates may apply when you send that one-word (INSPIRING) text to Jenn Gotzon. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Interview with Johnnie Alexander, author of Where She Belongs

Welcome Johnnie Alexander to the blog today! She's here to talk about her new novel, Where She Belongs. Here's the beautiful cover of her book:

Where She Belongs is a delightful story of broken hearts, family rivalries, history and hope. Most of all, it's a story that illustrates the Bible verse of Psalm 31:8. See the meme below for a clue: 

I enjoyed asking Johnnie questions about Where She Belongs. I hope that you will enjoy reading her answers.

God bless you! 

*Questions from Alexis are in bold, answers from Johnnie are not in bold

Alexis: When we meet your heroine Shelby, she’s ready to move on from her grief. What’s her backstory?

Johnnie: Shelby’s husband, a Chicago police officer, was killed in the line of duty about a year before the story begins. But living in a big city was her husband’s dream, not Shelby’s. Now she’s raising her two young daughters on her own and eager to move back to her childhood roots.

What is the significance of Shelby’s desire to purchase her family’s “ancestral homestead” and how does it relate to the story’s plot?

Shelby’s ancestors have lived at the Misty Willow homestead for generations. As a girl, she spent summers and holidays there with her grandparents and expected to inherit the property someday. But the house was taken by her grandfather’s rival. It’s been abandoned ever since, and Shelby’s determined to get it back. She wants her daughters to experience the same golden childhood she did.

Why does Shelby feel like her family’s homestead is the only place that she ever really “belonged”?

Shelby was devastated when her grandparents died shortly after losing their home. While she was still grieving, her parents moved to a mission in Mozambique. Fourteen-year-old Shelby didn’t fit in there, nor did she fit in with U.S. culture when she returned to the states for college a few years later. All she can think about is going home.

Describe Shelby’s character flaw, inner journey, and deepest desire. What motivates her behavior?

Shelby’s deepest desire is to restore her grandparents’ house into the place she remembers and to give treasured memories to her daughters. As the story unfolds, Shelby learns her grandparents’ most valuable legacy wasn’t the property she loves so much, but their godly influence in the community. It’s not the place, but the people that matter.

AJ Sullivan is your hero. Describe his character flaw, inner journey and what (or who) makes his heart melt.

AJ inherited the property from his grandfather but he never wanted it. He’s content teaching high school students and coaching football. Because of his past, he doesn’t believe he can ever be the husband and father he wants to be. That legacy doesn’t run in his family.

What is it about Shelby that makes her stay on the forefront of AJ’s mind?

AJ memorized Shelby’s letter asking him to sell her the property. He’s envious of her strong connection to her grandfather, especially since his own grandfather cared more about power and money than family. From the first time he sees Shelby, he’s smitten with her—and he’s crazy about her two little girls.

Why did AJ inherit the Kincaid homestead as a “punishment”? What happened in his life that made him neglect the homestead for 15 years?

I can’t tell you AJ’s secret—that would be a spoiler. But it caused trouble between AJ and his grandfather, Sully. AJ angered Sully even more when he dropped out of law school. Always one to hold a grudge, Sully left his business and money to AJ’s cousins, and Misty Willow to AJ. The house had already been empty for a few years, and AJ left it that way.

Misty Willow, the setting for your story, sounds like a whimsical and beautiful place to live. What was your inspiration for this story setting? How did you make up the name? What is your favorite feature about Misty Willow?

I lived in a huge brick 19th-century house in a rural area of central Ohio when I was a teen. It’s the inspiration behind Misty Willow. I just gave the farm, the creek, and the county different names.

We lived in a different house when I was in elementary school. A beautiful weeping willow tree grew near the road. I loved climbing that tree. So I “moved” it to my fictional farm.

My mom helped me come up with the name, and I created a backstory for it. You can read Misty Willow: A Family Tree on Natalie Monk’s blog.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing Where She Belongs? What was the most rewarding?

Shelby and AJ’s relationship is deeply affected by events that occurred before they were even born. I needed to weave in their grandparents’ history without bogging down the modern-day story. That was a challenge.

The most rewarding aspect was including a few of my own childhood memories in the story. For example, we had a stone fire ring where we roasted hot dogs on autumn evenings. AJ builds a fire ring for Shelby at Misty Willow.

What is the moral of the story?

God sets our feet in a spacious place (Psalm 31:8).

What’s the take-home message of Where She Belongs? What do you want readers to remember the most?

Create treasured memories for those you love.

Complete these two sentences: When I began writing Where She Belongs, I wanted to _________________________. But after I finished the story, I ________________________________.

When I began writing Where She Belongs, I wanted to go back to my family’s old home because I loved living there. But after I finished the story, I could let that dream go. Memorializing the house in fictional story is enough.

Thanks for the interview, Johnnie!

Author bio: 

Johnnie Alexander writes inspiring stories that linger in the heart. Where Treasure Hides, her debut novel, won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011) and Golden Leaf Award (2014). Her first contemporary romance, Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series; Revell), and her first novella, The Healing Promise (Courageous Bride Collection; Barbour), release in 2016.

She also has won Best Novel and Best Writer awards (Florida Christian Writers Conferences), and Bronze Medalist (My Book Therapy Frasier Contest). She volunteers as a category coordinator for the ACFW Genesis Contest, judges various contests, and serves as marketing director for the MidSouth Christian Writers Conference.

A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, and stacks of books. She lives in the Memphis area with a small herd of alpacas and Rugby, the princely papillon who trees raccoons.

Connect with Johnnie:
Blog ~ Facebook Profile (Friend or Follow!) ~ Facebook Author Page  ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter ~ Amazon Author Page

Friday, February 5, 2016

Words of Faith: Dr. Gray's story

Faith and Faithfulness
A Words of Faith story by Ekwenzi Gray, Ph.D.

A few years ago, one of my cousins was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The news was a heart-wrenching game-changer for the family. My cousin has a husband and two adult daughters and she wanted to see them both finish their degrees and get married. But this news seemed like it could derail those plans. The doctors were reserved in their predictions, giving her 4-5 years to live. But without a transplant and other treatment, her chances were slim. And with pancreatic cancer having one of the most serious mortality rates around (the 5 year survival rate is 6%), time was not on our side.

Family member after family member was tested to be a potential donor, but were ruled out again and again, and the years kept on rolling. Year 5 came and then year 6, and we all (my cousin included) felt like she was living on borrowed time. But she never gave up, never stopped living, and her faith held strong. And finally, she was rewarded. In year 6, her goddaughter, who is a girl her daughter's age who happened to be adopted, was identified as a possible donor. It was nothing short of a miracle because the fact that the girl was adopted, meant that she was that much further outside of the genetic pool where a match should have been found. 

Thankfully, she agreed to donate. Both the girl and my cousin survived the transplant and recovered marvelously, inspiring others and strengthening the faith of family, friends, and strangers alike when they hear the story.

Marvelous and miraculous, right? It's a true blessing that lives were saved, hearts have been changed, and the testimony continues to inspire all those that hear it. That's what faith stories are supposed to do. And quite frankly, I don't like them.

Stories like this suggest that faith is only for grand, supernatural gestures and interventions. They are the stories that movies are made of, when most of us live TV-level lives. We don't face life-threatening illnesses but we face the struggles of making it through the day when we're battling the flu. Many of us don't find ourselves facing homelessness but we have bills and mortgages or rent payments and jobs that keep us going day to day and living paycheck to paycheck, feeling like we're one step away from being homeless. And when we, or let me speak for myself, when I hear stories like this, I can't help but think, "That's great for them, but what about me? Does God care about my day to day struggles when He has so many other more serious concerns to address?" Not that I'm wishing my life was harder, not at all. It's just that sometimes, I feel like I'm wasting God's time by coming to Him with concerns that are decidedly smaller.

And yet, that's where faith really becomes important. Faith and faithfulness.

My faith calls me to believe that God cares about me whether my issues are earth-shattering or mildly frustrating. My faith calls for me to believe that God wants what's best for me no matter to what. 
But my faithfulness? That's where things get interesting. 

You see, faith is a belief in something, whether we see it or not. Faithfulness, however, implies action. Faithfulness is what I do to act on my beliefs. Faithfulness is more than just praying for a stronger relationship with God, it's actively praying and studying His Word  (The Holy Bible) and doing my part in developing a relationship with Him. Faithfulness is more than just praying to, say, write a book or record a CD. Faithfulness is sitting down every day, for whatever few minutes I can carve out, and writing or practicing my instrument. It's about doing my part to use the gifts and talents God has blessed me with along with the seed of an idea that I believe He planted in my heart. It's about trying to nurture those things until the time is right for the finished product to be birthed. 

Faithfulness reminds me that everything I do is not for my edification, but for His glory and honor

So, maybe saying that I don't like the large stories of faith is an overstatement. We need those stories to be inspired, to be reminded that our God does great and wonderful things all the time. But we need those small stories too, in order to be reminded that God needs our faithfulness to increase our faith. And He doesn't just want our faith in one situation, He wants it all that we do, all the time, and with all our hearts.

Don't just have faithful.

Read the following Bible verses to encourage your faith:

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) - "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV) - "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Author bio: 

Dr. Ekwenzi Gray is a Clinical Psychologist, licensed in the District of Columbia. He has been in clinical practice for nearly 10 years, both in private practice which is called 
J.E. Gray and Associates and in working on staff at the Howard University Counseling Services. 

He earned both his Ph.D. and M.S. in Clinical Psychology from Howard University. 

While versed in treating a variety of psychological conditions, Dr. Gray has a particular passion for helping clients struggling with issues related to depression and anxiety, spiritual concerns, and anger. He also works with people dealing with issues related to relationships, sexual identity, orientation, and interests. 

Dr. Gray continues to provide psychotherapy to individuals and couples, and conceptualizes client challenges from a cognitive theoretical orientation while using interventions from a variety of models. 

Outside of the office, Dr. Gray enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, and writing among other things. He can be found on Facebook (J. E. Gray and Associates) and on Twitter (@jegrayphd).

Friday, January 29, 2016

Words of Faith: Ada's story

Faith Is A Decision
A Words of Faith story written by Ada Brownell

I wasn’t surprised when atheists responded to tweets about my book Facts, Faith & Propaganda.

They usually want to argue. I always tell them “argument only proves who is best at debate.”

In several of my books that speak about faith and in all my writing I emphasize we decide what we believe. You can’t prove whether God exists, and atheists can’t show he doesn’t. There’s a reason for this—faith in necessary for salvation. We can’t please God if we don’t have faith. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6 KJV).

I met a woman from Sweden in the airport and we discussed faith after my husband told her I’m a writer and gave her my card and a bookmark.

“I don’t worry about whether I believe in God, and I’m letting my children grow up and make their own decisions,” she said. “I’m a good person, and that’s all that’s necessary.”

She was nice, but as her daughter lay nearby reading I explained, “Belief in God is a decision. As he traveled the world, Billy Graham called people to the altars to ‘make a decision for Christ.’ If you ignore God, you decided not to accept His sacrifice for sin so that you could live forever. It’s the choice you already made.”

I talked to her about evidence for faith and the need to choose Jesus as Savior.

She smiled. “You’re messing with my head. I’ll need to think about this.”

Here are some facts about faith:

What is faith? “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and confident of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).

God has given each person a measure of faith (Romans 12:3 KJV). Often people who don’t think they believe cry for God’s help spontaneously in crises.

Faith comes through hearing the Word—the gospel
(Romans 10:17 KJV). Because faith is necessary to be redeemed from sin and to have our name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, God “breathed” truth into writers He chose to pen His love message to humankind. It is through that love letter—the Bible—we gain knowledge of Him and why He allows us (anybody) to accept it and love and obey Him (2 Timothy 3:15-16 NIV).

We must voice our belief. “For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:10 NIV).

Our brains may be made to believe in God. In a CNN report by A. Chris Gajilan on April 4, 2007, Dr. Andrew Newberg, neuroscientist and author of "Why We Believe What We Believe," says the human brain is affected during prayer and meditation. He suggests brain scans may prove our brains are built to believe in God. Because of this God-shaped place within, nearly every person worships something, even if they create it themselves.

Faith comes through the will.
We decide whether to believe God’s Word, a false religion, or atheism (everything about who we are, why we are here and where we are going takes faith). Yet it takes a leap—a decision:“...Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” (Joshua 24:15 KJV) Read John 3:16 KJV which says,“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Jesus is our only hope. “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 KJV).

Salvation is a Gift we receive: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ his Son” (Romans 6:23 KJV).

Don’t wait to decide what you’ll believe. Remember much of what atheists and agnostics think they chose to believe, is based on propaganda. If you would like evidence of that, read my book Facts, Faith, and Propaganda which can purchased online at this address,

Read the first chapter free. A review says the book provides information from both sides without preaching. Just the facts. Remember, however, Peter wrote “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables” (2 Peter 1:16).

Author bio:

Ada Brownell, a devoted Bible student, has written for Christian publications since age 15 and spent much of her life as a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado. She also is a veteran youth Christian education teacher.

After moving to Missouri in her retirement, she continues to write books, freelance for Sunday school papers, Christian magazines, write op-ed pieces for newspapers, and blogs with stick-to-your-soul encouragement.

She is the author of six books. She is a member of Ozarks Chapter of American Christian Writers and American Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband have five children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Her historical romance, The Lady Fugitive, is a 2015 finalist for the Clash of the Titles Laurel Award.

Connect with Ada:
Amazon Author page -
Blog -

Monday, January 25, 2016

Devotional by Mary Manners: Is Today Really Necessary?

Today, I'd like to re-post a favorite devotional written by Mary Manners! It's about persevering through the trails as you journey through life. I believe you will benefit from reading this devotional.

Meanwhile, please pray for Mary Manners and her family. They are going through a tough time and will appreciate your prayers. God knows the details. Just pray.

Enjoy the devotional!

Is Today Really Necessary?

A devotional written Mary Manners

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." ~James 1:2-4~

My dad has always been my hugest inspiration. Long ago, when I was barely a teenager in the early days of my middle school journey, I came home following a particularly rough day to find him sitting on the front porch waiting for me so he could ask about my day. I joined him on the concrete landing and he spent a good hour listening while I vented about the trials and tribulations of being a thirteen-year-old in a cruel, cruel world. I imagined he had no idea what I was going through, since he couldn't have possibly ever been as young as thirteen. Little did I know!

The next day, Dad came home with a small treasure for me—a
 poster with the most forlorn-looking bloodhound sitting in a washtub full of soap bubbles that had been dumped over his head. The caption read, "Was today really necessary?" 

Dad helped me mount the poster in a place of honor on my bedroom wall, and then we sat together and talked some more. That's when I began to understand the power of adversity in shaping who I am as well as my life's path.

Today, I use the trials of my life—both 
the small inconveniences that jab like bony fingers along my rib cage as well as the tsunamis that sweep through to wash away any semblance of sanity—to shape and mold my writing. Characters come alive when their story is infused with nuances of my personal trials. In daily tribulations I find a never-ending fount of inspiration. The passion to write the next story burns continuously inside me, and with every detour that comes my way I know that the round-about will lead to another exciting chapter.

My dad succumbed to Non-Hodgkin lymphoma thirteen years ago, but his memory is alive and well in the poster that has traveled with me through the decades. It now holds a place of honor on the wall across from my office desk. Each time I glance up to read the caption, I smile and think, "Yes, today is really necessary and thank you, God, for allowing me another breath, another test…and another chapter."


Author bio:
Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they've rescued from local animal shelters...Lucky and Gus.

She loves swimming, running, flavored coffee and Smoky Mountain sunsets.

Mary believes everyone has a story to tell, and she loves to share hers. She writes inspirational romances of all lengths, from short stories to novels—something for everyone.

Learn more about Mary Manners at her website:

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Book Spotlight: Where She Belongs

Today, I'd like to share the delightful details about Johnnie Alexander's latest release, Where She Belongs! Here's the cover photo:

Lovely, isn't it?

Continue reading this blog post where you will be treated to a review about Where She Belongs, an excerpt from the book, purchase links for the book and notes on how to connect with the author.

Happy reading! 

Review written by Kavon and published via Amazon with 5 stars on January 19, 2016In Kavon's words, Where She Belongs is: That moment when you are happily reading a wonderful story and suddenly what you think is going to happen doesn't and then other things you never even dreamed of start happening instead. You're like -- whoa, wait. Noooooo! And you start waving your arms around like a rabid music conductor as you try get Character A to cool his jets so you can coach Character B to stick with it a bit longer while praying for Character C to just shove off to another book all while trying to hip check secondary characters into an appropriate holding pattern while...Yeah. There were a lot of those moments in this book. All that arm waving and not one single character listened to me. Not even the dog.

Enthralling because I wasn't sure what would happen next. Gut-wrenching because it didn't always go the way I hoped. Dipsy-swoony because when the romance is on it's really, really on! Thud! Heart-stirring because the author explores the power in relationships -- both the past and the present -- and how they shape us. Soul-nourishing because of a solid inspirational thread that anchors it all.

Read this one in a day because . . . I. Just. Couldn't. Stop.

*Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Book blurb: Shelby Kincaid is ready to move on from her grief. With high hopes for the future, she longs to purchase her family’s ancestral homestead so she can raise her young daughters in the only place she ever truly belonged. She plans to transform the abandoned house into the perfect home of her memories. But she’ll have her work cut out for her. 

AJ Sullivan never wanted the homestead. Inherited as a punishment from his grandfather, it has sat empty for fifteen years and fallen into ruin. He’s glad to finally unload it. But a clean break isn’t possible when he can’t get the young widow Shelby off his mind. 

Welcome to Misty Willow, a place that will have as great a hold over the reader as it does over its inhabitants. 

Where She Belongs
excerpt details from Johnnie Alexander:

Shelby Kincaid’s dream is to raise her daughters in the same house where she spent golden summers with her grandparents. After signing the papers that allows her to do just that, she celebrates by dining at a little Italian cafĂ©. When AJ Sullivan shows up at her table, she reluctantly invites him to join her. Her happiness overshadows the anger she feels toward him because he let the house fall into ruin.

Story excerpt: 

“I’m sure it was. Once.” AJ bit into the soft, hot bread. Shelby’s green eyes mesmerized him, but her mercurial attitude confounded him. One minute, he felt like her enemy. The next, as if they could be best friends. Maybe even something more. “But the first time I saw it, the house had already been empty several years.”

“You didn’t want to fix it up? Live in it?”

“It’s kind of large for one person, don’t you think?” He ventured a grin. Thankfully, she nodded agreement.

“You could have rented it out. Made some money.”

He searched for a noble reason why he hadn’t done even that. But the simple truth was that he wanted nothing to do with the house or the memories it embodied. Shelby might be hurt by that truth, but perhaps his explanation would make up for whatever wrongs his family had done to hers.

“Granddad—everyone called him Sully—had several business interests,” he said. “And three heirs. My two cousins and me. I got Misty Willow, and they got everything else.”

“To punish you?”


She didn’t ask, but he read the question in her eyes. What had you done?

He gave a casual shrug, as if what he’d done wasn’t that big of a deal. Except that it was. He didn’t need to tell Shelby the whole story, though. Only the part that most people knew.

“I’m his namesake. His only son’s only son. Naturally, I was supposed to be a lawyer so I could take care of his legal affairs. But I dropped out of law school and became a teacher instead.”

“So he pretty much disinherited you?”

“Except for your farm, yes.”

“Why the ‘you can’t sell this for ten years’ clause?”

“According to Richard, who’s the trustee, Sully thought I was too headstrong. That I didn’t think before I acted. Forcing me to keep the property was meant to teach me patience.” AJ leaned back in his chair and traced a pattern on the tablecloth. “For all his faults, he was a visionary. The farmland around here becomes more valuable every year. The commute to Columbus isn’t that far. Seems people want to raise their kids in the country.”

“I understand that.”

“I guess you do. Anyway, what the commuters don’t get, developers will.”

“Not Misty Willow.”

“Nor the rest of the acreage. I kind of like the land the way it is.”

“I wish I could have afforded to lease all of it now.”

“I wish you could have too.” Apparently, the numbers hadn’t worked out for her to lease more than the thirty-two acres. At least that’s what Richard had said. AJ wasn’t sure what difference it made in the long run, though. He gave her an encouraging smile. “But you have first options on the rest, and it’s not going anywhere.”

“I guess that means we’ll be doing business again in the future.”

AJ lifted his glass of tea. “To the future.”

A slow smile brightened Shelby’s features as she clinked her glass against his. “To the future.”

With her perfect timing, Tiff sidled to the table with separate checks and routine questions about to-go boxes. AJ paid both bills then escorted Shelby to her car. The moon hung low on the horizon, and only a few stars gleamed in the night sky.

Shelby clicked the remote to unlock the car. “Thank you for supper.”

“Thanks for letting me sit down.” Stepping in front of her, he opened the door.

“Thank you for the key too. Tell your grandmother it means the world to me.”

“She’ll be glad.”

Shelby started to get in, then halted, standing so close her delicate fragrance beckoned him even closer. “You’re very close to her, aren’t you?”

AJ’s throat tightened. “Very.”

“It’s hard. Losing a grandmother.” She stared past him, a faraway look in her clear eyes. “The pain eases, but it never goes away.”

“Would you want it to?”

She looked at him a moment, her eyes dark in the dim light of a nearby lamppost, then barely shook her head. “Good night.”


AJ stood on the sidewalk, staring at the taillights as she drove away. When she turned a corner, he jammed his hands in his pockets and strode to his Jeep. He envied her. That’s why he couldn’t stop thinking about her.

He envied her passion for a rundown house. He envied her happy childhood memories. He was even jealous that she had kids.

There had been a time when he thought he could change the dysfunctional Sullivan legacy. Become a respected husband and loving father.

But God couldn’t trust him with a family of his own. Not after the way he’d messed things up.

As he slid into his Jeep, he vowed not to think of Shelby Kincaid’s dazzling eyes or delicate features. Ever again.

Author bio: 
Johnnie Alexander writes inspiring stories that linger in the heart. Where Treasure Hides, her debut novel, won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011) and Golden Leaf Award (2014). Her first contemporary romance, Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series; Revell), and her first novella, The Healing Promise (Courageous Bride Collection; Barbour), releases in 2016. 

She also has won Best Novel and Best Writer awards (Florida Christian Writers Conferences), and Bronze Medalist (My Book Therapy Frasier Contest). She volunteers as a category coordinator for the ACFW Genesis Contest, judges various contests, and serves as marketing director for the MidSouth Christian Writers Conference.

A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, and stacks of books. She lives in the Memphis area with a small herd of alpacas and Rugby, the princely papillon who trees raccoons.
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