Friday, October 28, 2016

Words of Faith: Sara Ella's story of heartbreak and hope

Brokenhearted Faith
A Words of Faith story by Sara Ella

“The Spirit of YHWH is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed;” (Luke 4:18).

Let’s get real here. Because at this point in this year I don’t know how else to be. In some ways, this has been the greatest year of my life. My debut novel recently released, a dream come true. I had the opportunity to go to Nashville to see my friends, attend a writer’s conference, and visit my publishing house. My kids are thriving in homeschool and I’ve gotten to see my out-of-state family more than usual.

But, in many ways, this has also been, by far, the worst year of my life.

I won’t go into all the gory details. But I will say this year has shattered my heart in every way imaginable. I’ve experienced betrayal, loss, feelings of worthlessness, and depression, to name a few. It got to the point at which I felt my Creator had abandoned me. Why was He letting this happen? How could He watch as my heart was trampled, and beaten, and thrown away?

And then that still small voice whispered, “Read Job.”

Of course. I knew exactly what that meant. I knew Job’s story. I didn’t need to read it again to recall what that man went through. I ho-hummed my way to my Bible and opened it. Then I began to read. And here’s the verse that stuck out to me:

“. . . Shall we accept good from Elohim, and not trouble? . . .” Job 2:10.

Just wow. Isn’t it amazing how we can read something we’ve read before, but it has a totally new meaning when set in the current context of our lives? This verse was for me and it’s stayed with me through this horrible, no-good year. Because who am I to say I will only accept the best from my Creator? Am I not his child? And does He not put those He loves through trials only to make us stronger in the end? To sharpen our faith and draw us closer to Him? It’s all a matter of perspective, really. I can look at this year and think, “Wow. God must really hate me.” OR I can choose to “rejoice in all things” and praise Him for molding me. For allowing me this trial, which in the future could even turn into a ministry opportunity. My experience may help others. How can I not be grateful for that?

My heart is still on the mend. I’m healing, hour by hour, and day by day. But through it all, my Messiah has loved me. He’s held my broken heart in His hands and carried me through the storm. And that’s the thing, my friends. The storm. Because for the longest time, I stood on the shores of my situation, afraid to really go through it. But then my King nudged me and I felt Him asking me if I trusted Him to be with me in that storm. It took a while, but I finally stepped off the shore and into His arms. The waves chopped and crashed, my heart nearly drowned, but at last I am beginning to see the beautiful light on the other side. Not once has my Creator abandoned me. As broken as I’ve been, He’s kept me intact. Because that’s what brokenhearted faith is—giving your heart and life over to the One who heals the broken hearted. To the one who carries you through.

Are you experiencing a tragedy or heartbreak? Is your life a storm today? If you’re willing to share in the comments, I would love to pray for you.

Author bio: 

Not so long ago, SARA ELLA dreamed she would marry a prince (just call her Mrs. Charming) and live in a castle (a.k.a. The Plaza Hotel). Though her fairy tale didn’t quite turn out as planned, she did work for Disney—that was an enchanted moment of its own. 

Now she spends her days throwing living room dance parties for her two princesses and conquering realms of her own imaginings. 

She believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away” for those who put their faith in the King of kings.

Connect with Sara:
Website -

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A devotional thought for your heart

The Priceless Truth
A devotional by Alexis A. Goring

The last time that I was hired as a seasonal sales associate at a mall, my manager asked me to travel throughout the store, making sure that all of the products on display looked neat, orderly and attractive to customers.

One day, while working on a designer display of brand name coats, I realized that a security cord connected the coats so that no one would be able to steal it.

As I struggled to work around the security cord to fluff the jackets and restore order to the display, I realized the priceless truth—we humans are priceless to God! So much so that He put a plan (called the "Gift of Salvation") and a roadmap to life (called The Holy Bible), in place to keep us secure if only we abide in Him. Just like that security cord kept the expensive coats safe, God’s protection keeps us close to His heart. He does this because He believes that we are priceless to Him (Isaiah 43:4) and He loves us. All we need to do is to believe in Him and His Son Jesus Christ then follow (and be obedient to) Him throughout all the days of our life.

God also says that we have an enemy who is a thief (John 10:10) who is the devil and he wants to destroy us! But God is stronger than the enemy and if we choose to stay close to God and follow Him, we will experience eternal life (John 3:16) when He returns to Earth and takes His faith followers home to heaven. Our walk with God is not always going to be like peaches and cream (easy). There will be mountain highs and valley lows. But He promises to walk through the storms of life with us and give us strength to endure.

But how do we fight off the thief who is our enemy? God tells us to submit to Him, resist the devil and the devil will flee from us (James 4:7). So how do you do that? The best way, I believe, is to take God’s advice and guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23-27).

In closing, I’d like for you to listen to a song by 1GN called “Guard Your Heart.” It’s very modern with a timeless message. You can listen to it here.

After you listen to the song, you are invited to leave a comment below to tell me how you plan to guard your heart and stay close to God.

Be blessed by God, dear hearts!



Friday, October 21, 2016

Words of Faith: Shannon's story about dating and marrying her husband

The View from the Second Pew
A Words of Faith story by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

When I was a child, I went to church sporadically. We’d followed the housing booms far from my parents’ rural Arkansas home. My mother taught me about God and Jesus, while my dad worked from dusk to well after dawn as a carpenter. When I was twelve, we returned to rural Arkansas and the Methodist church they’d grown up in. We attended church regularly, but somehow I got the idea that if I went to church and was a good person, I’d go to heaven.

Until I started dating my future husband—a Baptist preacher’s kid. He mentioned being saved and I had no clue what that was until he explained that I had to put my faith and trust in Jesus and ask him to be my savior. This was totally crazy, because at the time, my husband was a pothead – I just didn’t know it yet. He’d been saved at nine years old but went wild after his parents ended up divorcing. While we dated, he went to church with me sporadically. But after a while, I figured out that all the rumors I heard about him were true. We broke up.

Finally, the salvation sermons I heard began to sink in and I committed my life to Christ in my bedroom. A few months later, my future husband told me he was quitting all his meanness and I could tell he was different. He started going to church with me regularly and recommitted to Jesus. Our relationship completely changed for the better, we dated the rest of high school and married a year after graduation.

About fourteen years later, he dipped his toe into ministry and became a youth director at my parents’ church which had changed to nondenominational. We had about thirty unchurched, unruly teens. It was difficult for me. While Grant was just glad they were coming to church, I’d get frustrated because I could tell they were only coming to get out of the house and they took advantage of his generosity with them. Out of those thirty – only one is still in church that we know of, and one is in prison for murder.

Three years later, the wonderful, loving, Godly man I’d married morphed into a preacher on me. Yes, I’d been in church consistently since the age of twelve. Yes, I accepted Christ at fifteen. Yes, I had that deer in the headlights look when he told me he’d answered the call to preach. Me? A preacher’s wife? I wasn’t qualified.

My thoughts and deeds weren’t holy and pure enough. My actions weren’t selfless enough. I couldn’t play the piano and had no desire to teach a Sunday school class. I didn’t have a pedestal to stand on and I’d stunk as a youth director’s wife. I searched the scriptures. There were no verses giving guidelines for a preacher’s wife. I knew that before I searched, but I checked just to make sure. There were guidelines for the preacher, the deacons, even the deacons’ wives, but nothing specifically for the preacher’s wife.

So what did I do? I supported my husband. I baked a horrible cake and had a nice reception after his ordination. The cake was an inch thick and tasted hideous because I used my aunt’s recipe for carrot cake from scratch, which I’d never attempted before. It said to use self-rising flour and mine had been in the canister long enough I’d forgotten it was all purpose. Let’s just say I don’t cook many things from scratch, another reason I wasn’t a good candidate for a preacher’s wife. The Proverbs 31 woman just isn’t me when it comes to housewifey stuff.

Though I felt completely unqualified and slightly overwhelmed at the sudden preacher’s wife title, I adjusted with help from my husband. At each church he’s pastored, he’s made a point to tell members that I’m for him. Not the church. I’m his wife and I’m there to support him. Talk about taking the pressure off.

For the last fifteen years, I’ve fumbled my way through three Baptist churches as the pastor’s wife. I’m much better and more patient than I was as a youth director’s wife. He’s been pastoring our current church for ten years and I’m there every time the doors are open, unless our son is sick or I’m really sick.

I don’t play the piano, teach Sunday school class, head up any ministries, or work in the nursery. Once a year, during VBS, I’m the craft lady. Once a year, I help pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. When we have a death and feed the grieving family, I bring food, help serve, and clean up afterward.

The rest of the time, I sit on the second pew, smile at my husband while he preaches, keep him pumped up, listen to his concerns, and tell everyone he’s the best preacher in town.

Author bio: Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/award winning author. She once climbed a mountain wearing gold wedge-heeled sandals which became known as her hiking boots. Shannon writes inspirational contemporary romance and it took her nine years to get published in the traditional market. 

Shannon and her husband, Pastor Grant
Shannon hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as her characters struggle with real-life issues. Their journeys, from ordinary lives to extraordinary romance through Christ-centered relationships, demonstrate that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her family, flea marketing, and doing craft projects. 


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Thankful Thursday: God sees every single tear

It's Thursday and I'm thankful that God sees "Every Single Tear". That's the title to one of my favorite songs performed by Scott Krippayne. But it's also a way that God spoke to me and comforted me last night.

I was trying to sleep but failing because there was a lot on my mind and past wounds were hurting. As tears escaped my eyes, the words "He sees every single tear" started playing in my mind. It didn't take me much time to realize that those are lyrics from one of my favorite old songs. So I reached for my phone and looked up the song on YouTube. I set my phone down and let the music flood my mind, stopping my tears and bringing relief to my soul.

I know that God spoke to me through that song because when I say "old", it is really old. The first time I heard that song, I was in high school and I honestly had not listened to it since then! But now, as a grown adult, that song came to my mind. Only God, I tell you, only God does that! He knows that music is my love language and He often speaks to me through Christian/Gospel music songs. I always know when He speaks to me through music because He often whispers song lyrics to my heart or puts it on replay in my mind and these are songs that I usually have not thought of in years. But it's always right on time and the song lyrics speak to exactly whatever I'm going through. God is AWESOME! :)

"Every Single Tear" served as my lullaby last night and I soon drifted off to sleep with a smile on my face and no tears in sight.

I'm sharing this message with you today because I hope that it will help you whenever you're feeling down or crying over something that hurt you. I hope that you will take refuge and find solace in the fact that God loves you and He cares about every single tear. He wants to comfort you and He feels everything that you're feeling. He's the most understanding force in the universe! His heart of compassion for us mere mortals is amazing and oh so comforting!

May God bless you this Thursday, tomorrow and always! *Jeremiah 29:11*



Friday, October 14, 2016

Words of Faith: Lee's story about church songs and peace for your mind

A Song of the Mind
A Words of Faith story by Lee Carver

The elderly women behind me in church wouldn’t stop chatting during the prelude. The ladies seemed urged to talk, ignoring this moment of quiet inspiration just to visit, making no attempt to lower their voices. But perhaps they had been lonely all week, I thought. Or maybe there was a certain gene activated in aging women that compelled them to talk during the prelude, during the music, during the sermon. I should be patient. I might be there someday.

Virginia and Ed, a dear couple well known to us, sat down to my left, and I smiled and nodded. It was clear that her losses to Alzheimer’s disease were progressing. An hour before, she had not recognized me. Now Virginia looked directly into my eyes and said in a clear voice, “Where are we?”

On what level should I answer the question? What, exactly, did she want to know? What building we were in? What city? What meeting we were attending?

“We’re in church. We’re going to worship God together,” I answered.

For a moment that satisfied her, and then she asked her husband, “What church? What church is this?” He tried to gently quiet her. Then she took the hymnal from the rack before them and read its title aloud, “The United Methodist Hymnal,” her thin, childlike voice standing out as the congregation stilled. “Oh. That’s nice.”

Virginia loved to sing, and she knew the words to all the verses of the old hymns as the service progressed. On the less familiar songs she bent low over the hymnal held by her husband.

During the offertory, the choir sang a tender and moving hymn arrangement accompanied by the organist and a violinist. Virginia sang along, inaudible more than a few feet, “My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine.” She smiled peacefully as she sang, and no one minded a bit.

As they sang, my mind wandered back to last week’s sermon which had deeply impressed me. Dr. Jerry Chism asked the question most painful in a believer’s odyssey: When life is hard, when suffering comes to Christians, is God there with us? To these I added the question which so saddened me today: Why do elderly people who have lived good lives of dedication to God and their families become senile or suffer dementia? Is God still with them as the light of their minds grows dim?

As if answering my question, the choir and Virginia ended their anthem together, “If ever I loved Thee, My Jesus, ’tis now.”

Author bio: 
Lee Carver is once again failing at retirement, a hybrid author in every sense: fiction and nonfiction, traditionally and independently published. 

She also does freelance editing, formatting, and uploads as well as being a Stephen Minister, alto in the choir, crocheting with Pray Shawl Ministry, and volunteer pianist, among other activities.

Married forty-eight years to a very tolerant man, they have two children and five grandchildren.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Interview (Part III) with Summer Pearson, actress/singer/worship leader/missionary for God

Today is the final feature with Summer, for now! I say "for now" because I believe that God has so much more in store for this special Christian music singer. 

I hope that you've enjoyed your time with Summer. 

Remember: If you want to win a copy of "Love Letters" (Summer's debut album), enter the music giveaway contest by selecting the link to yesterday's post with Summer. 

Meanwhile, enjoy this final interview with Summer on my blog...for now! :)

Interview (Part III) with Summer Pearson, actress/singer/worship leader/missionary for God:

Alexis: How would you describe your style as a musician?

Summer: I would say that it’s “Contemporary Christian with soul” because it definitely has that fresh, kind of clean “Contemporary Christian” sound. But I grew up in the Black church singing gospel music and I listen to R&B so the soul comes through as well. We didn’t want to delete that from it because it’s so much a part of who I am. So again, that word “universal” comes up. Thank God I’m making universal music right now.

Alexis: What’s your favorite radio station?

Summer: I tend to listen to stations that offer diverse types of music. BRITE Radio definitely does that and I love and respect BRITE Radio for that.

Alexis: If you could do lunch with your favorite musician—famous or not—, who would it be and why? Where would you go for lunch?

Summer: I think I would go with Kirk Franklin. I’ve met so many musicians that I love over past year or two, it’s amazing but I got to meet Kirk Franklin this at the beginning of this year, randomly. I came to one of his concerts, was hanging out afterward at a local restaurant and he happened to walk in and meet with somebody I knew.

He is the nicest man and he was so gracious and sweet and he just performed for like three hours straight. So I would have understood if he was just like, “Hi” and kept it moving. But he actually came and sat with us, listened to us tell him how much he means to us and took pictures and all that. So he had to go but I think if I could spend more time with him to understand his journey, how he writes songs, some of the lessons he’s learned, business mixed with ministry, how that all works out. He’s given so many people a start in this business—like look at how well Tamela Mann is doing now.

I just feel that like that would be an afternoon really well spent, just having lunch with him and pulling from all that he has to offer.

Where would we go? Well, I met him at The Hamilton in D.C., so I see us there again. We would go there, they have really good food.

Alexis: What’s next for Summer Pearson as a musician? Where do you want God to take you? Why?

Summer: I want to go around the world. I literally want to touch as many people as I can. I have a real passion for reaching people one-on-one and hearing their stories and inspiring them and praying with them.

I feel like the project gets you in the door, telling people about you who may not have known about your otherwise.

But my passion really is with the direct ministry. So, I pray that this CD will continue to open doors for me to get out and try to touch people in a really personal way. I think that it’s going to be multiplied to the point where I may not be able to do it as much as I want to but it’s something that I prayed for, for so long just to be able to do that. I want to offer myself up basically to be used by God, however He opens doors.

It’s like a friend of mine who says, “God whatever door you open, I will run through it and whatever door you close, I won’t complain.” I’ve adopted that philosophy, that approach as well.

This will not be the last CD, there’s a lot more music that I’m already writing. I was writing even as we were recording “Love Letters.” People should stay tuned! We’re really just getting started.

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

Summer: Thank you so much! I encourage people to get “Love Letters.”

Singer bio: 

Summer is an outstanding recording artist, radio personality, actress, and speaker. Summer is skilled at performing many musical styles, especially Gospel and Contemporary Christian. Her vocals are often described as beautiful, powerful, heartfelt and angelic. 

In Summer, there also lies a wonderful speaker and actress who connects with audiences of all ages and conveys messages with conviction and grace. She is reliable and professional in presentation, timeliness, and responsiveness. 

Summer has experience performing for corporate events, weddings, concerts, funerals, retreats, church services, and other events. She is accepting bookings through 2017 and welcomes the opportunity to work with you on your event.

Summer's music is available for purchase in your iTunes store. 


Connect with Summer:

Email -

IG - summersofficialpage

Twitter - @summertimesings

Words of Faith: How to find joy...and your true value

The Joy in Our Value
A Words of Faith story by Rachel Scott McDaniel

Comparison is the thief of joy. A quote from Teddy Roosevelt, but also a truth from the Bible. (2 Cor. 10:12) So often we examine ourselves, judge our worth by the success of others.

When I was a new mom, this subtle evil plagued me. I would see on social media the got-it-all-together mama—the one who hits the gym every morning, then returns to make pancakes in the shape of dolphins for her children, and continues to post every account of her perfect day. And here I am concentrating not to burn the grilled cheese while calming a screaming child who’s finger just got smashed in the door, then hustling to clean up the cereal my toddler spilled all over the kitchen floor. Frustration overwhelms and joy vanishes.

Friends, that’s not God’s best for us.

Yes, we are to praise and congratulate others on their achievements, but that’s where we need to stop. Our value should never diminish because of another person’s attainment. Self-pity is poison to our soul. It all boils down to one question—What is our true value?

When we were looking for a house, the real estate agent said a house’s worth depended solely on what a person would pay for it. It didn’t matter if it was a new construction or recently remodeled with modern features. Its value was in how much it was purchased for.

So keeping in that same vein, our value lies in the price paid for us. Do you know how much we cost? Here’s the price tag. God’s only Son lived his entire existence sinless, abstaining from evil to the point he perspired blood. He was despised, tortured, crucified and then gloriously resurrected. He paid an intensely high price for us.

The truth is, our worth doesn’t lie in what we do, but in who we are. We are created by the Almighty and purchased by His Son. That revelation changes everything. So it doesn’t matter if you can create elaborate Christmas ornaments using only pipe cleaners and toothpicks, you are perfect. You are enough. You are loved, by God!

Author bio:
Rachel Scott McDaniel writes Christian historical romance. Her passion is to weave the truth of God’s Word into entertaining and thought-provoking stories. 

She’s a member of ACFW, where she was a finalist in the 2015 First Impressions contest. She’s also won the ACFW PA chapter’s Great Beginnings contest. 

She’s also an editorial traffic manager for a healthy-living magazine. Her first and most important job is being the wife to her husband of fourteen years and mama to their two children.

Connect with Rachel:
Facebook -