Monday, October 16, 2017

Interview with Gail Pallotta, author of "Barely Above Water"

Let's welcome Gail Pallotta to the blog today. She's the author of a book called Barely Above Water and today she's here to talk about it! Enjoy! :)

My interview with Gail

Alexis: What inspired you to write this Contemporary Romance, Barely Above Water? Talk about how you chose the title too.

Gail: I have Chronic Lyme Disease, but by the grace of God and with excellent care I’m able to lead an active life. By way of the grapevine, I began to receive inquiries asking how I found help. Hearing people’s struggles to find treatment, I decided to write a book detailing some of my symptoms and treatments and include a section in the back by two experts.

I wanted my novel to be fun to read, so I added a romance and a rag-tag swim team. My daughter’s many years of swimming and eight years of coaching inspired the team.

I titled this book after much thought. A reference to water seemed a natural choice because the story involves swimming and it’s set in an area that’s a peninsula. However, I needed words pointing to a struggle to survive. Thus, "Barely Above Water".

Alexis: Tell us about your story’s heroine, Suzie Morris. Describe her looks, heart, and passion for life. Include insights into her personality and the reason for her character flaw.

Gail: In Matt’s thoughts, Suzie is a “hot chic.” She’s thin, and quite a few of her clothes are baggy because she lost weight when she grew ill, but she’s still attractive. When Matt’s co-worker suggested Matt hang out with Suzie, Matt “could see Suzie’s crystal clear, blue eyes, her little nose and thin, perfectly etched lips. She was kinda’ skinny for an athlete, but gorgeous.”

Suzie’s passion is to get rid of the illness wreaking havoc on her life.

As far as her personality, she’s an extrovert who enjoys people. She has a healthy competitive spirit and thinks outside of the box. Right now, she’s lost self-confidence because the malady is causing her lots of problems, and her boyfriend dumped her because of it. She’s always loved God and depended on Him, but she needs His help even more than ever now, and she asks for it.

Suzie is dealing with a lot—an illness, being dumped by her boyfriend, not having family still alive and doctors who are clueless about how to help her. You’ve said that she is a Christian. How is her faith getting her through these tough times?

Suzie believes God directed her to the chiropractor who successfully treats her. She’s convinced if she prays and follows God’s lead, He will take care of her. Her faith gives her the strength to persevere and hope.

Alexis: Why did Suzie want the job coaching a swim team? Why is she passionate about transforming them into winners?

Gail: Suzie left her job as a magazine editor to move to Destin to receive the treatment she needed and took the only job she could find. 

As a championship swimmer in her teens, Suzie has a competitive spirit. That’s coupled with the fact that these swimmers are children of the city’s service workers who help make the tourist season succeed. Most of them have little experience swimming. Some don’t even know how. As Suzie works to perfect their technique, they grow encouraged and try to become accomplished. She wants them to see their hard work pay off and grow confident in their abilities, which will give them more confidence in life in general.

Alexis: What is Suzie’s boss’s name? In what ways does he renew “her belief in love” and does that renewal carry on through the story? Or do they face obstacles?

Gail: Matt, Suzie’s boss, has sworn off women, but he falls for Suzie, and she’s attracted to him. When he and Suzie go out, he’s complimentary toward Suzie and treats her well. For that reason and the chemistry between them, she opens her heart to him. Unfortunately, Matt’s had a problem coping with illness ever since his mother died from cancer. When he learns of Suzie’s mysterious malady, he breaks up with her.

Alexis: Tell us more about the hero of this story (Suzie’s boss). What is his background? What about Suzie attracts him? What are his likes and dislikes in life?

Gail: Matt’s a great guy, but he’s suffered losses that have left him going through the motions of living rather than embracing life. When he was in high school, he was a football star. He was really good and dreamed of a pro career. However, he injured his knee and ended up not playing anymore. Then, his mother’s death shattered his heart.

At first, he’s attracted to Suzie’s looks, but as he learns more about her, he respects her personality, intelligence, and problem-solving ability. Later, he’s impressed by her fortitude, which she attributes to her faith in God.

Matt’s heart’s still with football, but he also enjoys being around the swim team kids and wants to see them win. He likes his job as head of the parks and recreation department in Okaloosa County as well as he would any other than playing pro football. In his leisure time he enjoys walking on the beach, the harbor or a boardwalk. He’s a pretty laid-back guy without many dislikes, but he is bitter toward his dad and his high school girlfriend. They insisted he drop his dream of playing football, find a good business school and pursue a more realistic career.

Alexis: What was the most rewarding part of the writing process?

Gail: Knowing I was doing something that would help someone suffering. I realized I may never hear from that person or persons, and I probably would never know who they are, but I knew Barely Above Water contained valuable information about this little-understood disease.

Alexis: What’s the take-home message that you want your readers to remember about this book? 

Gail: The hope faith in God brings.

Alexis: If you were not a writer, what would you be? Why?

Gail: I have a background in public relations. Also, when my husband built houses I decorated them or worked with the buyers to do so. I enjoyed both. If I were to return to public relations, that would be because I enjoy talking with people. If it were decorating, that would be because I liked dreaming up a decor the way I do my characters. However, I’m happy writing books!

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Gail! Would you like to share any closing thoughts?

Gail: Thank you for having me.


Author Bio:
Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. 

A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. 

Her teen book, Stopped Cold, finished fourth in the 16th Annual Preditors and Editors readers’ poll and was a 2013 Grace Awards finalist. Barely Above Water won Honorable Mention in the Reader’s Favorite 2017 Book Award Contest in the Christian - Romance - General Category.

She’s published five books, poems, short stories and two-hundred articles. Some of her articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. Gail loves to connect with readers. To learn more about Gail and her books, visit any of her social media sites.

Book Blurb: An illness comes out of nowhere and strikes Suzie Morris. Her boyfriend dumps her. 

She has no living family, and her physician can’t diagnose the malady. Suzie relies on her Christian faith as she faces the uncertainty of the disease, and turns to a renowned alternative doctor in Destin, Florida. 

She takes a job coaching a county-sponsored summer swim team. She’s determined to turn the fun, sometimes comical, rag-tag bunch into winners. 

Her handsome boss renews her belief in love, but learns of her mysterious affliction and abruptly cuts romantic ties. Later he has regrets, but can he overcome his fear of losing a loved one and regain Suzie’s trust?

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fall into Love: Kristen Terrette's story

Labor, Delivery, and A First Look at Love

A Fall into Love story by Kristen Terrette

It was a hot summer evening in Georgia when I got a call (on a landline) saying my friend was in labor. We’d only just graduated high school, so this baby was a big deal, a first for my young friends and I. I arrived at the hospital with six friends to wait as long as needed to see the new baby girl arrive. We found ourselves sitting in uncomfortable, dated hospital chairs, watching the muted nightly newscast from a boxy TV attached to the wall in the corner. As if eighteen-year-old girls hanging out in a labor and delivery ward weren’t unique enough, a super cute handful of nineteen-year-old boys were sitting opposite us.

Most of us had yet to meet the buddies of the dad-to-be. They were from a different high school and had never been on our radar, but they sure were after that night. My friends and I chatted softly, excited about the baby and the hotties breathing the same air as us, though neither group made an effort to meet one another. We were all content to simply stare.

One of my friends, the only one to have met a few of the boys previously, told us the cutest of them was named…let’s call him Joel. I scoped out the herd, and located Joel in his faded red Georgia Bulldog hat and a white t-shirt. He was gloriously tanned which only amplified his light blue eyes. He was fit and lean like only an athlete could pull off well. One look had me agreeing with my friends. Joel was the cutest.

After a few hours, we’d lost count. My friends and I were standing by the big double doors leading to the elevators, preparing to leave. Joel, who I’d watched relentlessly, got up to from his chair and walked to the doors…towards us…towards me. I can still remember him glancing over his shoulder to tell his buds goodbye. When he swung his head back around, he was only a foot away, and his eyes caught mine, sealing the deal. It was love at first sight¾at least on my part. (Not really…but kind of.)

I’ll never forget the flush on my cheeks and how my mind replayed our brief eye contact over and over in slow motion. After he was long gone, my girlfriends kept talking about Joel. I was very confused and finally spoke up, telling them Joel had already left the hospital. My friends gave me raised eyebrows and creased foreheads cueing me in that I’d missed something. They told me Joel was still there and nodded to a guy who was cute, but definitely not my Joel, the guy who’d already left the hospital. When my friend realized the mistake I’d made, she told me the guy who’d left was named Ashley, not Joel.

It was an interesting name. One I would never forget. And God had a plan for our future.

A few weeks later, my girlfriend wanted to set me up with a guy who’d started working for her dad. I was very against any “set up” at first, but then she remembered a very important fact. She told me it was Ashley, the guy whose identity I’d mistaken at the lobby.

After I’d recovered and picked up my stomach from the floor, I agreed to meet him. Our brief meeting ended with him later getting my home phone number from my friend. He called that evening and asked me out on our first date the next day, a Friday. We ended up talking for a couple hours. Not only was he cute, but he was sweet and hilarious too. Our first date was followed by our second the very next day. After it, I came home and told my mom I was going to marry Ashley. And that I did.

This past summer we had a special anniversary. We had our first date when I was eighteen, and just had the eighteenth anniversary of that first date. The love of my life has now been with me for half of my life. And it’s only getting better. 

Author Bio: Kristen has a Master's degree in Theological Studies and was on staff as a Children's Ministry Director for over five years. She cherishes her Southern roots and currently lives forty-five minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. 

With the support of her husband and two children, she stays at home writing Christian fiction, making up fantasy places and characters, allowing God to take the story where He needs it to go. She is also involved in the women's leadership team at her church, and writes for Wholly Loved ministry at To see her blog and current novels, check out her website at

Book Blurb for Safe HarborEva Elliott is left with a jaded heart after the death of her boyfriend while she was pregnant. She pushed away the idea of God and love, focusing solely on her daughter, Willow. 

She accepts an offer from her mom to move to Moanna Island, off the coast of Georgia. She hopes the move will help her tuck away the guilt for the role she thinks she played in her boyfriend’s death.

Thad Smith’s Pro-Football career came to a crashing and embarrassing halt, sending him running to Moanna Island. He enjoys living under the radar and finds a new purpose as he dedicates his life back to Jesus, but he feels guilty for the sting of loneliness that’s crept into his seemingly full life.

When he saves Willow from drowning in the ocean the first day Eva arrives on the island, he can’t deny the electricity between them. Eva stubbornly fights the stirring in her heart the moment Thad smiles, but since Thad coaches the football team where Eva teaches and lives down the street, God continues to intertwine their lives. When he tells Eva he’s not only falling for her, but Willow as well, she thinks maybe…just maybe, it would work between them.

She doesn’t expect Thad’s ex to throw a kink in the fragile plan, nor for Thad’s relationship with God to convict her own shame and brokenness. Just when she opens the door to God, finally ready to make things right, an accident occurs that could leave Willow an orphan and Thad all alone again.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Interview with Melissa Tagg, author of "All This Time"

Welcome my creative friend Melissa Tagg to the blog! 

She's a former reporter who is now a famous author with a passion for creative storytelling. Readers have made her books to be bestsellers because as an author, she's just that good! :)

Melissa is here to talk about her new novel, All This Time


Interview with Melissa Tagg, author of All This Time:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this book and why did you name it “All This Time”?

Melissa: Well, to be honest, what inspired me most of all was the need to finish the series. LOL! This is a book I’d been building up to throughout the whole Walker series and I didn’t really know what the plot would entail as I approached it. I just knew I wanted to give Raegan and Bear a story worthy of the buildup and give readers a satisfying finale.

But when it came time to figure out just who these characters were, characters we’d only seen in snippets here and there throughout previous books, I was very inspired by the idea of writing about one character who can’t seem to outrun his past…and another who is too scared to chase her future.

I named it All This Time because it just fit. We’ve seen Bear and Rae “all this time,” in other stories, but we haven’t truly had a chance to get to know them. They’ve both been keeping secrets “all this time,” too.

Alexis: What was the most heart-wrenching scene for you as the author to write?

Melissa: Probably one of the most heart-wrenching scenes was a moment early on in the story when Bear realizes what kind of childhood his niece and nephew have had so far. Because I happen to work in a nonprofit that serves struggling people—including children—who’ve led very unstable lives, it made me tear up just to think about it. Jamie and Erin, the two kids in the story, are fictional. But there are so many real hurting people in this world…lonely people who don’t realize life can be different than what they’ve always known. The reality of that pricked my heart as I wrote.

Alexis: What scene or line from this book warmed your heart?

Melissa: So many because I just love these characters SO much. But the scene that warmed my heart more than anything is the epilogue. I don’t often write epilogues but this story just begged for one. It was a chance to give every Walker siblings—and their dad—a final send-off into their unwritten futures. Each one is walking into a new season in their lives and I just loved getting those final moments with them.

Alexis: Would you say that Bear is a family man? Why or why not?

Melissa: What’s funny is that in the beginning of the story, he’d probably tell you he’s not. He has quite a few family wounds in his past and for that reason, he tends to hold people at arm’s length…or at least he tries to. But at heart, he is very much a family man. Even though he’s purposely distanced himself from his family, he still loves and cares for them, no matter how much he denies it. He’s incredibly hungry for a family of his own. Throughout the story, we see ways in which he knowingly and unknowingly searches for a “stand-in family.” And when we see him with his niece and nephew, that seals the deal.

Alexis: How did you create Maple Valley? Paint a picture with words about how it looks, smells, and feels, then explain why it’s a special place for your main characters.

Melissa: Maple Valley is quirky and unique and cute and quaint and so many things I love about real-life small towns. Think Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls with just a tad more reality. Haha! A charming town square. A heritage railroad. A thriving orchard. And a river that cuts right through the center of town. It’s special to my characters simply because it’s home. It’s full of memories. It’s also a safe haven when life doesn’t go as planned…a place where they can “press pause” and confront what’s going on both inside and outside them.

Alexis: Describe Bear as the hero of your story. Why is he worthy of this role?

Melissa: I don’t want to give away too much of Bear’s personality and past and characteristics because I really want readers to discover him as they read…just like I did as I wrote! But I will say that the Bear we saw in previous books, the one who seemed so put-together and settled and wise, is much more broken than we might’ve realized. He has a very messy past and because of it, he’s sort of man at war with himself. 

What makes him a hero? He’s unflaggingly kind. More than that, he really embodies sacrificial love. He’s given up a lot in his life, made huge sacrifices for the people he loves. That’s definitely his biggest heroic quality. 

Alexis: Raegan Walker is your story’s heroine. Describe her looks, personality, heart, and flaws.

Melissa: Much like Bear, readers are going to find out that the spunky, carefree Raegan they encountered in previous books has much more going on under the surface. She has very real fears that hold her back from boldly chasing her dreams. She tells herself she likes her life just the way it is, but right from the opening of the book, we see that she’s beginning to doubt her own claims. Raegan is artsy and creative and unfailingly loyal to her family.

Alexis: Why does Raegan think she has to hide her struggles from her family?

Melissa: In previous Walker books, we see how successful all her siblings have been. Sure, they’ve all had struggles and past books show us that. But at the end of the day, Logan is a successful speechwriter, Kate has written movies and books, and Beckett has gone from the partner track at a major Boston law firm to happily co-managing an orchard.

So, Raegan already feels like the odd one out. She doesn’t have a career. She’s never moved away from home. She still lives in her childhood bedroom! So to then admit she’s struggling with deeper issues—it’s just too much for her.

Alexis: Why did you make Raegan an artist? What significance does her creative talent set play in this story?

Melissa: You know, I honestly don’t remember where the seed of that particular story angle was planted. But in past books, we always see Raegan with colorful hair and lots of bracelets and bright clothing. I suppose it just made sense for someone with such an artsy look to also have an artistic background. And it really worked well for her character. Her creative talent is significant because it’s one of the things she’s shelved due to her fears and struggles. We get to see old artistic dreams slowly revive during the story.

Alexis: How does Bear help Raegan out of her hardened shell?

Melissa: You know, I think Raegan’s actually a very soft person…she simply has fears she’s scared to reveal. She has a secret…one that Bear happens to stumble on by accident, actually. But once Bear learns what she’s been hiding, he becomes a natural safe space for her simply because he’s, well, Bear. In past books and in this book, we see that Bear is the kind of person people just naturally gravitate toward. In fact, we’ve seen both Kate and Logan Walker at various times in past books spill their angsty thoughts to Bear without hardly even knowing him! He’s just that kind of person. I’ve known people like that in my own life, who were able to draw me into sharing pieces of myself I wouldn’t naturally be inclined to share without knowing them a long time—that’s an amazing quality to have.

Alexis: What does Bear love the most about Raegan? Why does he love her so much?

Melissa: Bear loves Raegan’s creativity and her humor and the fact that she comes from such a wonderful family. He’s always wished for a family like hers. He will also eventually love that she doesn’t judge him for his past…that, in fact, she values the way his past has shaped him into the man he is today.

Alexis: Why does Raegan desire Bear? What is it about him that makes her want to marry him? Describe how he’s completely captivated her heart.

Melissa: Raegan has had a thing for Bear since she met him. I’m actually not a huge fan of “insta-love” tropes, but I think with Raegan, it wasn’t insta-love so much as insta-intrigue. LOL! When this story opens, Raegan has known Bear for about six years. He showed up years ago as a stranger in town with a past he never talked about. For a girl who has basically never left her hometown, that’s just plain interesting. But by the end of this story, it’s not the mystery surrounding Bear that she loves but the man he is. Sacrificial. Loyal (sometimes to a fault). And incredibly noble.

Alexis: What’s the moral of this story?

Melissa: I try not to write “morals.” LOL! When I start out writing a book, I don’t think to myself, “Okay, what’s the message of this story?” Because I feel like if that’s my goal, then there’s a danger of forcing characters into situations just to teach a lesson to readers. Instead, I want the characters to drive the story…and if I tell a good story, then a natural theme or emotional journey will emerge…which will, I hope, have readers walking away impacted in some way or at least thinking about questions and timeless truths.

The theme that emerged in All This Time centered on what it means to be honest and truly vulnerable with the people we love. It’s something neither Bear nor Raegan are good at. Bear doesn’t want anyone to know about his past and Raegan is hiding her panic disorder. There’s a spot where Raegan finally says something along the lines of, “Why do any of us keep things from the people we love?” That’s a very personal moment in the story for me because I found myself asking the same question about myself…why do I hold back sometimes in relationships? What does it really mean to live authentically? I hope that’s something readers find themselves thinking about as they close the pages of All This Time.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about All This Time?

Melissa: I really want them to close the book with thoughts on their own lives and relationships. I hope All This Time points toward truth and grace in an intriguing enough way to send readers looking for it in real life. I’d love for a reader to close this book thinking about the depth of their own relationships. But I also want them to simply swoon and laugh and maybe shed a tear or two as they walk this final journey with the Walker Family.

Alexis: If you could have a coffee date with Reagan, what would you say to her and how would you take your coffee (flavor/mixture/order details)?

Melissa: Oh, I’d order a venti Americano, no doubt. Black. And if I could chat with Raegan, I’d tell her, "Don’t let Bear get away again! and don’t be afraid to walk into the future God has for you, even if it looks completely different than you planned." (And I’d be simultaneously preaching to myself on that last point.)

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Melissa! God bless your dear heart.

Author Bio: 

Melissa Tagg is a former reporter, current nonprofit grant writer, and total Iowa girl. She’s the author of the Walker Family series, the Where Love Begins series and the Enchanted Christmas novella collection. 

Her books have made both the Publisher’s Weekly Top Ten and bestselling lists. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book.

Book Blurb: Bear McKinley’s past refuses to let go. 

Ten years ago, Bear gave up everything—his freedom and his reputation—for his mess of a family. But after years of distance and too many attempts at starting over, he finally has a new life doing noble work in Brazil . . . until his past catches up to him once again. Suddenly he finds himself back in Maple Valley, charged with the care of his missing brother’s children, convinced he’s out of second chances to make his life count. And yet, with every day that passes, these kids, this quirky town and the woman he never stopped missing help patch the holes in his heart. Maybe this is the fresh start he’s been longing for all along. But as his newfound hope grows, so does the mystery surrounding his brother’s activities—and when the threat reaches into the lives of those he loves, it’s clear he can’t run away this time.

Fear holds Raegan’s future captive.

Raegan Walker is fine. She’s happy working a slew of part-time jobs, still living in her childhood bedroom and rarely venturing from her hometown. At least, that’s what she tells everyone . . . and herself. But she can’t help wondering what might’ve happened if she hadn’t abandoned her art so many years ago—and if Bear McKinley had never left. When Bear returns and she’s commissioned for a painting that just might revive her artistic ambition all in one week, it’s time to finally reach for more than fine. But doing so means facing the fears that have held her back all this time, including admitting the secret she’s kept from Bear and her family. With her dream and her heart on the line, how much will Raegan have to risk to finally chase her happy ending?

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Fall into Love: Kimberly Rose's story

A Love That Lasts

A Fall into Love story written by Kimberly Rose Johnson

When I was asked to write a post on how I fell in love with my husband I thought to myself, “I can’t.” How was I supposed to put into words something I didn’t remember doing? That’s correct, I don’t remember falling in love with my husband—it just happened.

I was seventeen when I met the man I would marry. We were both in the same orientation group at college, and as it turned out we had a lot in common, including music, which was my passion. We were in the school’s traveling choir together and had at least one other class together that I can remember—good thing too because I think I spent more time reading the notes he passed me than paying attention to our professor in that class—this was long before texting.

I only remember going on a handful of dates, after all, we were both poor college students so we usually went for walks and talked. To this day that is a part of our daily lives. He proposed two days before my nineteenth birthday, and we married two months before my twentieth birthday, one week after he turned twenty-one.

I know this is supposed to be about how I fell in love with my husband, and up to this point in our relationship, I have no idea. It was only after we were married that I truly began to understand what true love is. Someone gave us a framed picture with 1 Corinthians printed out on it as a wedding gift. I often had to look at the picture and remind myself that love is patient and kind, it is not easily angered and it keeps no record of wrong. Whew! Although this is a chapter from the bible I have memorized, having that visual hanging in my bedroom was a great visual reminder.

Love is a choice, pure and simple. Every day I choose to love my husband. I can’t imagine a life without him. He is still my best friend. I look forward to seeing him when he comes home from work, and I enjoy spending time with him and talking with him on our daily walks.

I wish I could share a mushy story about how I fell in love, but for me, life isn’t like a romance novel. I consider that to be a good thing—we each have our own story and it’s okay to have a story that’s not the norm. I enjoy escaping into a sweet romance story, and I especially enjoy writing them. The Lord has given me an imagination that thrives on dreaming up stories, and He has given me a husband who has helped to teach me what true love is—A Love that Lasts.

Author Bio: Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child, Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing.

She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul.

Kimberly was a finalist in the 2017 Romance Writers of America Faith Hope and Love Readers Choice Award. She holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, WA. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

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Book Blurb for A Love That Lasts:

Some things just weren’t meant to be—or were they?

Recent nursing school graduate Holly Miller knows from personal experience a slip-up can cost a life. A mistake she made years ago still haunts her. She is determined to stay focused and not allow any distractions in her life—including an old high school classmate she ran into at the hospital who is as handsome as the pastries he bakes are tasty and sweet.

Matthew Cook had a crush on Holly back in high school and is surprised to find she’s working at the local hospital. She’d rejected him when they were teens, but he seems to have her attention now. Can he convince her that she can have it all—including a love that lasts, without sacrificing her career?

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Thankful Thursday: God is With Us

It's Thursday and I'm thankful for the fact that God is with us.

He is with us in the calm.

He is with us in the storm.

He is with us even when we cannot feel His Presence.

Why? Because He created us and He loves us with ALL of His divine heart.

We are living in troubled times with terror and uncertainty in every corner of the world. But I'm here to tell you that the Maker of humankind, the Creator of the entire Universe, is still on His Throne. Nothing goes unnoticed and at the right time, He will intervene. Until the day of His judgment, you can trust Him to be there for you as an inexhaustible resource.

So go to Him. Tell him what you want. Tell Him what you need. Express your deepest desires and most heartfelt emotions to Him and then have the faith to believe that not only did He hear you but He will answer. Read Isaiah 65:24.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

He loves you too much to leave you to figure out life on your own. Ask Him for wisdom. He's always willing to give you a healthy dose of it, freely (James 1:5)!

God is Good even when life isn't and one day, it will all make sense. But until that happens, hang on to His Word (The Holy Bible), read His Letter (The Holy Bible) and keep holding His Hand.

Here's a song for reflection, followed by a Bible passage (Psalm 46) that reminds me of God's unshakable Sovereignty and gives me hope during troubled times.

Psalm 46 ~ King James Version (KJV) ~ Source:

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Devotional by Laura Thomas on the blessings of inconvenience

The Beauty of Thorns
A devotional by Laura Thomas

“The enemy would have us so blinded by the pain of the thorn that we can’t see the beauty of the rose garden.” ~Ruth Chou Simons

Have you ever picked a rose and been unexpectedly pricked by a whacking great thorn on the stem? I have. Multiple times. You’d think I would know better, but still, I go back to my rosebush enraptured by the beauty of the flower, only to be jolted by that painful little thorn again.

In the big scheme of things, having one’s finger punctured by a thorn is not exactly disastrous, but “thorns in our flesh” can take many forms. The Apostle Paul spoke of his particular thorn and there are many opinions as to whether it was anything from malaria to poor eyesight to epilepsy—regardless, it was a huge issue to Paul as he called it a “messenger of Satan”. Why did God allow him to endure this wretched inconvenience? Why does God allow us to have our own thorns marring the beautiful rose garden of our lives?

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” 
~2 Corinthians 12:9a (The Message)

These thorns, these pesky pressures, pain, and problems that simply won’t go away, won’t budge they are so deeply embedded, these thorns are there for a reason. That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially if it causes debilitating results or a stressful existence. For some, it’s a slight annoyance but for others it’s major, and I don’t want to belittle that. It’s HARD. And yet…

When life is peachy and everything is going perfectly without a hint of anxiety or grief, pain or distress, do we still come to God on our knees desperate for His touch? When every day is gloriously easy-breezy and finances and health are in tip-top condition, do we rely wholly on God for our daily bread and every breath? Surely, we are in danger of becoming totally self-sufficient and even a little self-absorbed.

Oh, how the tide turns when we are in thorny peril! Suddenly we find ourselves praying more, feverishly searching the Scriptures for a word of hope, reaching out to our Heavenly Father because we admit that we NEED Him.

Yes, I’m needy. Are you? It’s okay. Actually, that’s a good thing.

Because of our weaknesses, our thorns, we are able to acknowledge our need for Jesus. This need runs deep and it’s necessary for our growth in Him. It’s our weakness that grows our faith immeasurably because only His grace is enough.

That’s it. His grace at work in our lives. When everything is hunky-dory and plain-sailing, we go on our merry way perhaps with an occasional nod and wave in God’s direction. But that’s not growth or faith or hope or trust. When I lay everything, even my thorns at the feet of Jesus and cry out for help:

“I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”
~2 Corinthians 10:12b (The Message)

That’s why we have our thorny issues, it’s actually for our good and so that somehow in some way God can be glorified. I cringe when I say that because it may not feel particularly “good” at the time, but I’ve seen lives utterly transformed by thorns. And sometimes we forget that Jesus is an expert on pain. There is no thorn that he does not comprehend— He has complete empathy.

On the cross, wearing that mocking crown fashioned with the sharpest of thorns, he endured every pain and ever sorrow for us.

He knows pain, friend. And he offers grace to us, that we might find our strength in Him alone. We NEED Him. And by His grace, we are not blinded or distracted by the pain of the thorns— but rather, we look ahead and see the beauty of the rose garden of eternity that is to come.

Author Bio:

Laura is a published Christian author with a heart for inspiring and encouraging readers of all ages. 

She is truly multi-genre—with a published Christian teen fiction trilogy, marriage book, children’s stories, devotionals for Union Gospel Press, musings on her blog, and she now has a literary agent representing her Christian romantic suspense novel. 

Laura is English and Canadian, married to her high school sweetheart, mom of three, passionate about faith and family…and chocolate!

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Book Review: A Moment to Breathe

Author: (in)courage and Denise J. Hughes (editor)
Book: A Moment to Breathe: 365 Devotions that Meet You in Your Everyday Mess
Reviewed by: Alexis A. Goring

"A Moment to Breathe: 365 Devotions that Meet You in Your Everyday Mess" is a beautiful book complete with heartfelt devotionals written by women. This book is the brainchild of (in)courage ministries and Denise J. Hughes who is the editor. These are devotionals for your heart.

Hughes and the ladies of (in)courage invite the reader (target audience: women) to take a moment to breathe, relax and read at least one devotional in this book today. Each devotional has its own dose of refreshment for the weary woman’s soul. The stories are personal, lighthearted and heartwarming. Each author speaks from her personal experience and shares lessons learned in a way that will make you smile and think about your own life. This book will encourage you to not only take a moment to breathe but to invite others to do so as well.

The authors and editor of this book want the reader to feel like she is spending time with a friend, a very good friend who has their best interest at heart when sharing their story. As a reader, I found this to be a wonderful way to reach the hearts of women and encourage them in their journey.

This book is also a good read for women who feel lonely. Reading these stories is like spending time with a good friend. It’s a well-known fact that books make the most faithful friends (outside of Jesus Christ, of course, because He is the most REAL and Faithful Friend that any human can have in this life).

The people behind this book achieve their goal in helping the reader realize that we’re all in this journey called life together so we should reach out and encourage each other. Eighty writers contributed to this devotional book and each of their stories are like lifelines to the sinking soul because it’s more than just sharing a personal story, it’s about pointing people to the Giver of Life (God) and the most Faithful Friend (Jesus Christ). I enjoyed every moment that I breathed in the “everyday faith” stories that are shared in this book!

This book is a must-read that’s well worth a five-star rating. I’m going to recommend it to all of my female family members and friends.

* I (Alexis A. Goring) voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book that I received from the author’s publisher. My opinions are my own.