Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: When Jesus Christ is in the fire with you

There is Another in the Fire
A devotional by Julia Wilson

“Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” –Daniel 3:25 (NIV)

I absolutely love this Bible story in the book of Daniel as it shows the faithfulness of God to His people at all times.

My devotional today is focusing on the experience of three Hebrew men named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I want to zero in on the time when they refused to bow down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Because of their disobedience, the king ordered them to be thrown into a fiery furnace.

Despite this impending doom, these three friends were confident that God would rescue them. According to Daniel 3:17-18 (NIV), these are the words that they declared to the king, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

This made the king so furious that he demanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of his strongest soldiers to tie Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego together and throw them into the blazing furnace. The Bible goes on to say that the flames from the furnace killed the soldiers as they threw the three Hebrew men into the furnace

Reading on to Daniel 3:24-25, the Bible says that King Nebuchadnezzar “leaped to his feet in amazement his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” The kings advisers said, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” Then the king said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

The fourth person walking around in the fire is believed to be Jesus Christ. This just blows me away. Not only does God rescue the three but He sends His Son to walk alongside them. Wow.

When we face difficult times, God walks right alongside us. We are never alone. God has already made provision for us as He rescues us from our situations.

August 30, 2020 marked the five-year anniversary of a devastating fire at my church Lifecentral in Halesowen (used to be called Zion Christian Centre). God has been so faithful that I wanted to share my perspective with you.

I awoke on that fateful Sunday to my husband saying, “There’s no church today. There’s been a fire. Leon Evans (our pastor) put it on Facebook. We are to stay away.” As the day progressed, photos appeared on Facebook and the church was on the local news too. The auditorium was gone and the building was severely damaged. The photos were awful and I cried. I cried because my church, the place where I had met God, been baptised and had many encounters with Him was gone. It felt like a very black day.

Our pastor Leon Evans put out on Facebook that there was to be a prayer meeting outside the building on the Monday night. He expected half a dozen people … 200 people turned up. We met in the old job centre next door, that the church had bought several years earlier, after God prompted them but they did not know what they were going to do with it at the time. But God did. God knew there would be a fire and we would need a building. Wow. What a faithful God.

For the next four days, volunteers from church, other churches and the local community, cleaned, painted and transformed a dinghy space into a new worship space. Other churches lent us chairs, sound systems and equipment. We were humbled and blessed.

Friday night saw another prayer meeting in a newly transformed space. Again, several hundred people turned up. There were a lot of grateful tears. We all took our shoes off for we felt the place we were standing on was holy ground. This reminds me of Exodus 3:5 (NIV) where God tells Moses to, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

Those few days felt like we moved from Black Sunday to Grateful Friday. Everyone’s faith moved up a level. As my pastor said, “the building burned and people caught fire.”

I felt on that black Sunday that I had lost God that He had somehow burned in the fire. But the truth was that God had walked through the fire and provided and comforted His people. God was not dead. God was alive. My memories of God’s faithfulness are not dead either, they are alive. To quote my pastor again, “buildings don’t change people but what happens inside them does.”

Five years later on from the fire … we have had a name change as a church, the building has been completely renovated, Lifecentral is now one church in four locations: Halesowen, Hagley, Rowley, and DurrĂ«s in Albania.

As a church, we have walked through the fire and we came out transformed. God walked with us. He went before us and beside us. He walks with us still.

Due to COVID-19, church meets online on Sunday mornings and the Spirit of God still moves among us. He is changing lives one at a time.

Let’s pray: God, You are amazing. Your love knows no bounds. Your faithfulness just blows me away. You never leave us. You walk through the fires of life with us. Your presence is tangible. I thank you for Your love and your care. In Jesus's Name I pray, Amen.

Author Bio:

My name is Julia Wilson but I also go by Christian Bookaholic. 

I live with my husband and five cats in a small town in Worcestershire on the banks of the River Severn (England). We have four grown up children and three granddaughters.

I have always loved reading and have always been surrounded by books. I used to work as a teaching assistant for special needs in the local high school. Ill health forced me to stop working in December 2015. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (known as M.E.) and fibromyalgia. I now have plenty of time to read and review books!

Our eldest son set up my Christian Bookaholic blog. I review every book I read. I read over 300 books a year. I read Christian and mass market. I prefer stories set from 1850 onwards. My favourite type of books to read is stories set in WWI and WWII, and Russia under Czar Nicholas II.

I am a historian, having a Combined Humanities degree where I majored in History and minored in English. I also love swimming. I only learned how to swim in 2017 and go swimming four mornings a week for 90 minutes before breakfast, it keeps my joints going.

I am also a crazy cat lady. I absolutely love my cats. I have grown up with cats and cannot imagine life without them. My dream is to own an old fashioned seal point Siamese … but not while we have our young rescue cat as she hates other cats!

I love God and love going to a large lively church called Lifecentral. I cannot imagine life without God. He gives a peace even when life does not. He guides my life. He is my Rock.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Romantic Reads: Forever Music

Welcome Hope Toler Dougherty to the blog! 

She's here to talk about her book, Forever Music, and she's hosting a giveaway!

Remember to enter the book giveaway contest via the Rafflecopter widget that's located at the end of this blog post.


Interview with Hope Toler Dougherty about her book, Forever Music:

Alexis: Why did you write this story?

Hope: I’m intrigued with the idea of emotional affairs. Josie and Ches begin a friendship, but it turns into more even though Ches already has a girlfriend at the beginning of the book. They deny their feelings but won’t decline spending time together. Both of them justify meetings and training sessions with each other. People sometimes justify social media contact with old friends. That contact turns into flirtatious emails and calls and then turns into more. I wanted to explore that journey.

Alexis: How did you choose the title for this book?

Hope: There is, of course, a musical theme in the book with songs coming up throughout, and music is also a metaphor. Josie wants Ches to play music he likes instead of the music he had to play for piano lessons. She also wants him to live the life he chooses instead of the one his father wants for him because she wants him to be happy.

Alexis: Describe your story’s heroine Josie Daniels. What does she look like? Sound like? Act like?

Hope: Josie looks like a young Reese Witherspoon—long blond hair and green eyes. She’s mostly self-confident because she’s had to be—as the baby sister to three older brothers. She holds her own in a tag football game even when she gets knocked down. She has a heart for her community and for her brothers.

Alexis: What are Josie’s deepest dreams and greatest fears? Why?

Hope: She loves family and wants one of her own. She’s afraid of failure; therefore, she works hard at everything she does.

Alexis: Why does Josie act as the mother of her three brothers? What happened to their real mom?

Hope: Their mother is on a two-year mission trip with their father. Josie has moved into her family’s house to save rent money and to keep up the house while her parents are out of the country. She loves cooking and caring for her brothers.

Alexis: Why is Josie passionate about volunteering in her community?

Hope: She loves her community library and has fond memories of visiting it as a child with her mother. She wants the same positive experiences for the current young children of her neighborhood.

Alexis: How does Josie easily get over having a broken heart?

Hope: Getting over B.J. wasn’t easy, but time helped heal her broken heart. When the story opens, she’s several months into the healing process. Focusing on helping the library and mothering her brothers helped also.

Alexis: Describe your story’s hero Ches Windham. What does he look like? Sound like? Act like?

Hope: Ches looks like a young Victor Webster. He’s very uptight at the beginning of the story, but we see him loosen up as he gets to know Josie and her brothers. We see his carpentry/wood working talents at the community build. We see his musical talents at the piano. His humor grows through the story as his sadness begins to abate.

Alexis: What are Ches’s loftiest goals and most persistent challenges? Explain.

Hope: Before meeting Josie, his goal was to make partner in one of Charlotte’s biggest law firms to win his father’s approval. After meeting Josie, he begins to contemplate pursuing his own dreams which don’t include the law firm, but he hopes they may include Josie. Breaking free from his father’s expectations is his main challenge.

Alexis: Why does Josie make it her mission to help Ches find his true purpose?

Hope: Josie is a natural nurturer. She wants Ches to be happy. She wants to fix the problems she sees in his life. Although she doesn’t want to admit it, she’s attracted to him from the beginning.

Alexis: What is it about Josie that Ches loves? Why?

Hope: He loves her passion, her intellect, her humor, her food. He’s fascinated with her because she’s free and unfettered by other people’s expectations. She’s a good sport and rolls with most things that come along.

Alexis: Why does Josie try so hard to resist her growing attraction to Ches?

Hope: She resists her attraction because he has a girlfriend, and by all accounts it’s supposed to be a serious relationship. She also believes Ches has the same personality as her former boyfriend and doesn’t want to travel that path again.

Alexis: What drew Ches to a career in law and how does his livelihood affect his personal life?

Hope: Ches always tried to please his father who pushed him onto the law path. His father wanted Ches to succeed where he didn’t himself. Ches’s dissatisfaction with his career gives him the bleeding ulcer which leads to his career change.

Alexis: What role does family and tradition play in this story?

Hope: Family and tradition have huge roles in the story. Josie provides family meals for her brothers and schedules family calls with their out-of-the-country parents. She prepares favorite recipes for all the holidays.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about Forever Music?

Hope: I love the interplay in the Daniels’ family. I hope people remember a feeling of love among the siblings whether they’re in their home or together bowling or volunteering.

Alexis: If you could step into this story as a guidance counselor and speak to Ches, what would you say?

Play music that makes you happy. Go your own path, not the one others choose for you.

Alexis: If you were Josie’s best friend, what would you say to her about her relationship with Ches?

Hope: I’d try to get her to see how she justified their outings. I’d try to help her see how her feelings were growing for him. I’d try to protect her from another bruised heart.

Alexis: If you could treat Ches and Josie to lunch, where would you go to eat? Why?

Hope: Ches would want to eat at Josie’s house. He loves her cooking, and he loves being in her house. If I had to choose a restaurant, however, I’d choose the Lamplighter. It was a real restaurant in Charlotte when my husband and I were dating. He took me there for my birthday and gave me a gold bangle bracelet I still wear.

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

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Alexis! I love hearing from readers and hope they’ll connect with me on social media or through my website.

Author Bio:

Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master’s degree and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College.

Her novels include Irish Encounter and Mars…With Venus Rising, Rescued Hearts, and Forever Music. A member of ACFW and RWA, she lives in North Carolina.

She and her husband delight in visits with their daughters and twin sons.

Book blurb for Forever Music:

A battered heart needs healing.
A community needs rescuing.
A chartered course needs redirecting.

College history instructor, Josie Daniels is good at mothering her three brothers, volunteering in her community, and getting over broken hearts, but meeting aloof, hotshot attorney Ches Windham challenges her nurturing, positive-thinking spirit.

Josie longs to help Ches find his true purpose, but as his hidden talents and true personality emerge. Will she be able to withstand his potent charms, or will she lose her heart in the process?

A rising star in his law firm, Ches Windham is good at keeping secrets.

He’s always been the good son, following his father’s will to become an attorney and playing the game for a fast track to partnering with a law firm. Lately, though his life’s path has lost whatever luster it had—all because of his unlikely, and unacceptable, friendship with Josie. He struggles between the life he’s prepared for and the one calling to him now. Opposing his father has never been an option, and spending time with Josie can’t be one. The more he’s with her, however, the more he wants to be.

When a crisis tarnishes his golden future and secrets are revealed, Ches is forced to reexamine the trajectory of his life. Will he choose the path his father hammered out for him or the path that speaks to his heart?

Connect with Hope:

Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below:

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Monday, September 21, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: God can turn your mess into your message

When the Lord Makes Banana Bread
A devotional by Malinda Fugate

Key Scripture:
1 John 1:9, Isaiah 1:18 (NIV)

The first thing I took out of my paper grocery bag was the vibrant yellow bunch of bananas.

The touch of green along their edges told me they were at the perfect time of enjoyment with a few days of ripeness ahead. I unpeeled one of the sweet, soft fruits and enjoyed my delightful snack, unaware of what the next week would hold.

Life got a little crazy, as it does, and my bunch of bananas waited patiently on their hanger in steadfast support, at the ready for breakfast or snacking—or perhaps to be frozen for future service in a smoothie. But in the busyness of bill-paying, dog-caring, and work-doing, the faithful fruit was forgotten. Until one morning, I discovered the vibrant yellow was replaced with splotchy brown. All firmness was gone, leaving a mushy, overly-sweet-smelling bananas about to fall off their hanger. What a waste.

And so it goes with sin. We begin with good intentions, staying connected to the Lord through prayer, worship, and Bible study. He is constantly on our hearts and minds, equipping us to make good decisions as the Holy Spirit reminds us of His Word. Then the busyness kicks in and distractions pull our attention away from our Heavenly Father. Our decisions become less faithful and our intentions focus more on self. Before we know it, we’ve fallen into the trap of sin, dishonoring God and making a mess of our lives. Like the overripe banana, we are falling apart with a heart that isn’t at its prettiest. We feel like a failure, as if all is lost.

Yet, the overripe banana still has a purpose. The capable baker can turn the mushy fruit into the most soft, delicious loaf of banana bread, bringing joy to anyone fortunate enough to have a taste. So it is with our sinful hearts. Though it seems like the end, we have not been discarded by our loving Heavenly Father. Our place in His heart is not lost. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Sin does not disqualify us from serving God. Once we repent and are forgiven, the Lord heals our hearts and helps us grow. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18). God has a purpose for our lives, and, as He knows all, He is aware of our sin.

It is often said that He turns our mess into our message. Once He begins His healing work in our hearts, from that place we are able to serve Him and testify of His goodness to others. In the process of forgiveness and restoration, we become more mature and equipped for obedience. He does more than give a second chance—the Lord redeems us and creates something beautiful in our souls.

Author Bio:

Malinda Fugate writes from the heart.

Though she serves full time as the Children’s Education Director at a church in Southern California, she is also a crafter of words published in books.

Her writing includes children's faith resources, commercial copywriting, and various faith-based stage and screenplays.

Malinda invites you to explore the various 3:16s in the Bible with her new book, The Other Three Sixteens (published by Ambassador International in May 2020).

She also invites you to read her previously published books: Bible Time for Active Kids, which is an activities-based devotional that is available for purchase on, and The Pen and the Sword: Connecting With the Word of God, which is an interactive creative writing journal.

Malinda earned a communications degree with a theatre emphasis from Azusa Pacific University, and then worked behind the scenes at the Los Angeles Salem radio stations, including The Fish and KKLA.

When she's not writing or working at church, Malinda might be creating art, reading, or exploring the many adventures to be found in the Los Angeles area. She lives by the beach with her pup, Yoshi.

Visit Malinda online via

Friday, September 18, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Salvation

A devotional by Alexis Newlin

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
– Romans 10:9-10 (ESV)

I am a sinner.

One of the sins I constantly struggle with is judging. Man, do I judge others. What they wear, how they look, what they believe. In my head, I look down on so many. Another sin: I lie. If it will keep me from being in trouble, I’ll run to lying. If it will help me gain favor, I’ll lie. If it will help preserve a friendship, I’ll lie. Another one: anger. And another: lust. And another … and another.

There is such ugliness inside my head and within my heart. 

Because of my sin, I deserve to die. I deserve hell. If it were up to me to make things right, to live a life of rightness and perfection … I could never do it.

If it were up to me, I’d end up in hell, my right judgement, forever separated from God.

Because I am a sinner.

Because eternal damnation as punishment is what I deserve.

In fact, it is what we all deserve.

But it’s not up to me. Thank God, my salvation is not up to me. Nor is it up to you.

There is this beautiful person, who stepped up and took my place and your place. His Name is Jesus Christ (God’s Son). He faced the wrath of God and experienced much suffering and pain. He took our sin, our shame and placed Himself on the cross. He knew who we are: sinners who would fail God daily. Despite this knowledge of a very true fact, Jesus decided that He wanted to take our place anyway.

Jesus took the blame so that we may have eternal life. (John 3:16) He took our all our sins so that we can live, forgiven and accepted by our Father. So now, when God sees us, He sees His Son. So instead of our dreadful sinfulness, God sees us as blameless, pure, holy, forgiven, loved, accepted.

I am so thankful for this gift of salvation! It’s not just fire insurance keeping me out of hell. It is a life of freedom, knowing that I am saved, redeemed and loved by a Holy God who despite my broken nature, loves me anyway. God loves you anyway!

This life with Jesus Christ is such a gift. I want you to have this gift too.

The Bible says in Romans 10:9-10 (ESV):
“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

If you don’t know Jesus and want to start a new life in Christ, all you have to do is say this prayer to your Maker: “God, I am a sinner. I need you. I believe that Jesus loves me and died for my sins. Please forgive me. I turn from my sins and accept you as my savior. Please come into my heart and make me new.”

That’s it. Jesus doesn’t care about your past. He doesn’t care that you will mess up or even if you are messed up. Nothing you have said or done is too great, neither is it too dreadful for Jesus to stop loving you! He wants you, all of you, no matter what you’ve done.

It’s time to run to Him and be made whole.

Author Bio:

Alexis is a 36-year-old lover of Jesus, loose leaf tea, roller coasters, writing stories and going on adventures. Originally from Marietta, GA, Alexis now resides in Fresno, CA. 

You can always find Alexis outdoors enjoying a walk in her neighborhood, scoping out the newest food truck, hanging out with friends or planning her next trip.

Her church, The Revival Center, and family mean the world to her. They have supported her through the loss of her mother and her own cancer diagnosis.

Alexis enjoys encouraging others by reminding them not to look at what they see, but to always look to God, who is working in the unseen.

Alexis currently writes for several online ministries and launched her first podcast – The Brave Podcast – in January 2020.

Connect with Alexis:

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: How to survive when the waters swell and rage

Surviving the Flood

A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.” –Isaiah 43:2a (NIV)

My family lives in a small, 18th century, converted barn.

The front door is in a lean-to style addition tacked onto the original structure. It’s a funky space: narrow and long with a high, slanted ceiling and one wall made of rough-cut barn boards. It’s our mud room/home office/schoolroom and on the wall above the coat hooks hangs the white board that since the pandemic, we’ve been using to organize our life. It has the monthly calendar, important dates, various doodles, and a Bible verse that we change as the mood hits.

This week I changed it to Isaiah 43:2a. I love this verse. It reminds me that when I’m in it up to my ears, I am not alone.

Like a lot of families, we’re in various stages of back-to-school chaos. Our eldest is remotely attending college from his bedroom, our youngest is being homeschooled, and our middle child is about to start remote learning 11th grade and is not happy about it. In a long and heart-wrenching discussion of how to get through it, I said something I used to hate hearing as a kid “Have you prayed about it?”

I didn’t like hearing that advice because I didn’t think it worked. I wanted to pray and have an immediate, tangible result, like making a wish and having it granted. The middle kid’s reaction to the question was the same as mine would have been at their age, eyes rolled to the ceiling.

Being a few decades further down the path of faith, I was able to articulate what the point was of praying. Since C.S. Lewis said it better than I probably did at the time, I’ll quote him. He said, “I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God. It changes me.” My kid heard this and said, “I never thought of it that way.” An answer that made my whole year.

In the middle of a trial I pray, I cry out to God and the answer isn’t an immediate change in my circumstances, it’s a change in me. Sometimes that change is the peace that passes all understanding. Sometimes the change is renewed strength. Sometimes it’s an overflow of tears held for too long and the exhausted relief that follows. Make no mistake, God is hearing me and He is at work, but I’ve learned to pin my hopes on His providence and not my desired outcome. Not my will, but His. There’s freedom in that. There’s peace to be found there too.

When the waters come, and they have, we are not alone. God is with us.

Standing knee-deep in the river it can feel like you’ve been abandoned. When one bad thing after another happens, it can feel like God has forgotten you. Do you feel like that right now? Like it’s all been too much? That you can’t take one…more…thing going wrong?

Have you prayed about it? Have you emptied your heart out to Jesus, admitted defeat, and asked for Him to take all the weight you’ve been carrying alone? He’s in it with you. The waters are swirling around His knees too, but He’s in control and He has his hand out for you.

The waters may swell and rage but they’re not going to pull you under if your faith is in Him.

Author Bio:

Christa MacDonald is a 2017 ACFW Carol Award finalist for contemporary Christian fiction. 

A native New Englander, she was inspired by her travels through the north woods of Maine to write The Broken Trail, which would become the first in the Sweet River Redemption series published by Mountain Brook Ink.

Christa's writing focuses on the real-life challenges of the modern world, love’s sometimes crooked path, and the redemptive power of Grace.

When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, or attempting something crafty.

She and her husband live with their three kids, two cats, and one dog along the coast of New England. Connect with Christa at

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Romantic Reads: A Persevering Heart

Welcome Lisa Prysock to the blog!

She's here to share about her book, A Persevering Heart, and she's hosting a giveaway! So remember to enter the book giveaway contest via the Rafflecopter widget that's located at the end of this blog post.

Enjoy your time with this lovely author!

Interview with Lisa Prysock about her book, A Persevering Heart:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this story and why did you give it this title?

Lisa: My inspiration for this story was to write a Christian mystery with a setting inspired by my daughter. She recently married and lives in Georgia now. The title is inspired from the Lord helping me persevere through many storms in my own life.

Alexis: Who or what was the inspiration behind your story’s heroine, Ms. Pepper Anne Barrington?

Lisa: The fictional character of Ms. Pepper Anne Barrington is inspired by all of the mysteries I’ve read over the years, and even some I’ve watched on television. I have enjoyed Agatha Christie’s novels and Nancy Drew mysteries. I loved watching the TV shows Murder She Wrote, Perry Mason, Columbo, and many more. I wanted to create a memorable character, and readers tell me she lives up to it so far.

Alexis: How does Pepper look? What does her voice sound like? What are her greatest strengths and most embarrassing weaknesses?

Lisa: Ms. Pepper is an attractive, Christian, wealthy widow at the age of forty-eight when the series begins. She’s a confident brunette who owns a plantation mansion, an L-shaped house made into a Bed and Breakfast (B&B). Her former husband, Wyatt, was into real estate, which is how they acquired the 10-acre property. They remodeled the estate together before his car accident that left her widowed. She drives a shimmery blue Aston Martin and also owns a Rolls Royce. Her voice sounds strong, likeable, and kind of like a cross between Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith from “Charlie’s Angels” (a detective television series from way back in the 80’s). At times she is soft-spoken and other times, strong and courageous.

I think her weakness is being a bit too busy with her writing and managing a B&B. Thankfully, she has hired some staff to help her stay on track. There’s a cook, a gardener, and a housekeeper. I think her most embarrassing weakness is meddling. She likes to snoop out mysteries and help find resolutions for them. And it’s also perhaps a bit of a weakness that she loves fashion. She really enjoys dressing up and driving around in her convertible Aston Martin with the top down.

Alexis: Is Pepper rich? What does she do for a living?

Lisa: Pepper is what you’d call filthy rich. She’s a mystery writer, as well as the owner of Edgewater Coventry B&B. She doesn’t need the income because her husband’s estate left her millions upon his death. Between all of his properties, insurance, and income, she doesn’t have to worry about money.

Alexis: Why did Pepper choose to be a mystery novelist and how long did it take for her books to become bestsellers?

Lisa: Pepper became a mystery novelist after she retired from teaching elementary school and her children became school age. She became a bestselling novelist with her very first book. Not exactly the stuff most of us real life writers go through.

Alexis: Paint a picture of Edgewater Coventry B&B, with words. What makes it special?

The B&B plantation property is pretty cool. It’s in a historic neighborhood area of Atlanta not too far from downtown. It was inspired by a neighborhood in Atlanta I drove through with my husband when visiting my daughter’s school connected to the Atlanta Dream Center.

To imagine Ms. Pepper Anne Barrington’s property, you’d want to picture driving through iron gates on the approach. The drive winds to the left and up through a gently sloping lawn toward the main L-shaped house with a courtyard garden terrace in the rear. To the left of the house (if you’re facing the house), there’s a giant arch leading into a garage with a stone courtyard of its own, and parking for numerous vehicles. I found a design from some famous Hollywood mansion homes that gave me the basis for this amazing courtyard garage.

Imagine beautiful shrubs and flower beds surrounding the mansion house with shade from patches of trees here and there on the front grounds. There is a veranda with four pillars across the front of the house.

The house has spacious rooms with tall ceilings, and a fireplace in nearly every room. The main floor has a Ladies Parlor, a Library, a Music Room, and an office. The other wing of the “L” has a long dining room, a kitchen, and Pepper’s quarters on the first floor.

Each of the guest rooms have a name. These are the Hydrangea Room, the Magnolia Room, the Marigold Room, the Pomegranate Room, the Peach Room, the Rose Room, the Indigo Room, and the Gardenia Room. The third floor attic has been remodeled into rooms for two of Pepper’s adult children.

The design of the house is based loosely on a real-life historical plantation. There is a staircase inside the main hall leading to the second floor, and another staircase from the other wing which can be accessed from the terrace garden. Some of the upstairs guest rooms are accessed by the upper veranda. Each guest room on the second floor (in both wings) has a bathroom and fireplace. There is a central lounge upstairs in the middle of the second and third floors. (Some of these details come out as readers read my books in the series). If you count the cottage, in total, there are eight guest rooms available because Pepper’s quarters are the Pomegranate Room.

Beyond the plantation main house is a walk leading to a guest house called Brook Cottage with a lanai. It sits on the northeast corner, angled toward the walking trails winding through a wooded area, and the pond.

Guests can enjoy the rowing boats on the pond, walk the shaded trails, swim in the pool year round, use the exercise room, enjoy the octagonal gazebo, picnic in the pavilion with swings, and walk through the green house. In addition to a vegetable garden providing organic fresh vegetables for guests and a rose garden, there are lilies, hydrangeas, and many plants, flowers, trees, and shrubs on the property.

Alexis: How does Bradley look? What does his voice sound like? What are his strongest features and his most serious character flaws?

Lisa: From Nashville, Tennessee, he looks and acts a lot like a cowboy. He wears jeans, cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, and plaid shirts all through the story, except he’s not a country singer. He’s a hip hop artist and fans are crazy about him. He has brown hair, blue eyes, and he’s tall.

He has a strong voice. His biggest flaw was not being able to have fun during a long-term crisis in the book. He really had to work at trusting God to let that happen. His best feature is his dependency on God and that he doesn’t let his fame and success go to his head. He is a genuine hero. He loves to do handyman work and remodeling his grandmother’s old Victorian is a joy for him since he is a woodshop pro and a math whiz. He is also the oldest of all of his siblings.

He is not organized, and that’s one of his flaws.

Alexis: What brings Bradley to Georgia? Where does he stay and why doesn’t he leave?

Lisa: Bradley inherits his grandmother’s estate in Atlanta and he decides to remodel it and live there. Some of his siblings live in the area. In fact, he moves his whole band to Atlanta from Nashville. While he’s tackling the remodeling, he decides to stay at the B&B where he meets Patricia.

Alexis: Why is Bradley passionate about music? What is the name of his band? Are they famous?

He is passionate about sharing Jesus through his music, and yes, his band is famous. The name of his band is Eternity.

Alexis: What draws Patricia and Bradley together? What are their first impressions of each other?

Lisa: Bradley’s antique watch turns up missing, but it is found on Patricia’s desk. Patricia is instantly attracted to Bradley. I’ll let readers find out what he thinks by reading the book.

Alexis: If you could visit the bed and breakfast in this story as a guest, how would you spend your time there? What would you do? Would you snoop around and help solve the mysteries?

I would definitely love to stay there. I’d take a walk on the trails, have a picnic with my husband in the pavilion, ride in the rowing boats, and swim in the pool. I’d use the exercise room at least every other day. I’d love to stroll through the rose garden and the green house, and inspect the vegetable garden.

Yes, I might even try to help solve the mysteries. I’m curious like that, and if I see an injustice, I like to get to the bottom of it. I might also lock myself in the guest house to write stories and only come out for food. I’d also enjoy reading a book in the library, having tea in the Ladies’ Parlor, and reading in the gazebo and the pavilion. I’d enjoy the piano in the music room, too. Having tea by one of the fireplaces with a great book would be a favorite end of the day activity for me.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about A Persevering Heart?

I want them to know that the persevering heart who does not give up on God will be rewarded with a good life from a good God who deeply loves each of us.

Thanks for the interview, Lisa! Would you like to share closing comments?

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Alexis. I would like to share with readers that I’m not the only writer in this exciting new series. Some very talented writers are contributing books to it, and their ideas have each been unique and outstanding. 

These stories have been full of suspense, intrigue, mystery, faith, inspiration, sweet romance, well-developed characters, and amazing plots. I encourage readers to enjoy all of the books in the “Georgia Peaches” series.

I’m giving away two Kindle copies of this book and one signed paperback, so we’ll choose three random readers who comment as winners. To win, what kind of mystery do you think Pepper might help solve in my next series contribution? I’d love to hear what your thoughts are about this series, as well. Do you enjoy reading mysteries and suspenseful stories?

Author Bio:

Lisa M. Prysock is an award-winning, bestselling, Christian and inspirational author of more than 28 novels. She and her husband make their home in Kentucky where the rich heritage, scenic area, local culture and history, along with her faith, are a constant source of inspiration for many of Lisa’s books. Together, they have five grown children. 

Lisa writes in the genres of both Historical Christian Romance and Contemporary Christian Romance novels, including a multi-author Western Christian Romance series, “Whispers in Wyoming.” She is also the author of a devotional. She enjoys sharing her faith through her writing.

She has many interests, but a few of these include gardening, cooking, sketching, arts and crafts, sewing, crochet, cross stitch, scrapbooking, reading, swimming, biking, and walking. Lisa loves dollhouses, cats, horses, butterflies, hats, boots, flip-flops, chocolate, coffee, tea, chocolate, the colors peach and purple, and everything old-fashioned. 

She adopted the slogan of “The Old-Fashioned Everything Girl” because of her love for classic, traditional, and old-fashioned everything. When she isn’t writing, she can sometimes be found teaching herself piano and violin, but humorously finds the process “a bit slow and painful.”

A few of her favorite authors include Jane Austen, Lucy Maude Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. You’ll find “food, fashion, fun, and faith” in Lisa’s novels.

She continues the joy and adventure of sharing her faith through her writing journey as a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and LCW (Louisville Christian Writers). Lisa’s books are clean and wholesome, inspirational, and family oriented. She gives a generous portion of the proceeds to missions.

You can find out more about this author at where you’ll find free recipes, devotionals, author video interviews and book trailers, giveaways, blog posts, and much more, including an invitation to sign up for her free newsletter.

Blurb for A Persevering Heart (book):

When Ms. Pepper Anne Barrington isn’t driving her convertible Aston Martin or writing her bestselling mysteries, she’s busy solving real-life dilemmas happening to her three grown children or the guests visiting her Atlanta bed and breakfast, Edgewater Coventry B & B. It seems to Miss Pepper, there’s always an air of romance, mystery, and perhaps a little adventure and mayhem at the restored 19th century plantation.

When handsome handyman and popular up and coming musician, Bradley Fielding, inherits his grandmother’s Victorian estate in Georgia, he relocates his band from Nashville to Atlanta to oversee the renovations. He decides to stay at the Edgewater Coventry B & B while the Fielding house that has been in his family for generations is being remodeled. All kinds of things begin to go wrong, including the disappearance of his sister and an antique pocket watch.

Patricia Johnston, avid reader and administrative assistant to Miss Pepper, is perhaps the most disturbed of all when she is framed for stealing Brad Fielding’s antique watch. She’s off to the wrong start in her new job—and with one of the country’s most eligible bachelors.

Don’t miss the adventure, romance, and sometimes mystery in "A Persevering Heart," Book 1 of the new, exciting Christian and inspirational series, ‘Georgia Peaches,’ where each novella ends with a happily ever after in spite of a number of obstacles.

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Monday, September 14, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Why it's important to listen to God's Voice

His Master's Voice
A devotional by Wade Webster

Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them, 'Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.'"
–Joshua 4:21-22 (NIV)

I found it next to a dumpster in the apartment complex I live in.

It probably meant something to somebody when they acquired it quite a while before they discarded it.

I could tell it had been stored in obscurity before it found its way here. Three sides of the wood frame promised a dark brown hue. The left side was covered in a thick layer of dust and pet hair. It was solid so I took it home.

I had some time so I removed the center section and applied a few coats of Murphy's Oil Soap to the wood. It soon returned to its new luster. I've always loved wood grained articles. The main portion was made of glass so a couple of applications of Windex cleaned that up in no time. An amateur screwed two screws into the back of the frame so I took those out and made it so it would lie flat against the wall again.

The wall I decided to hang it on held a puzzle my ex-wife did several years go. I've been replacing her items as I can to help me move on. Once in place I stood back and let the message on the glass speak to me again.

It’s an old ad for the Victor Talking Machine Company. The original record player is what they created. There's a dog with his head tipped as he's peering into the cone that juts out from the record. The backdrop is now a mirror. The caption under the dog is why I appreciate this piece and why I exerted so much effort in restoring this treasure that somebody trashed. 

Just three words: HIS MASTER'S VOICE

That's what the dog recognized. That's what I hope people say about me once they get to know me. I want them to say, “Wade heard his Master's voice,” especially when they learn that my Master is Jesus Christ.

When Joshua led the people of God across the Jordan River during flood stage (read about it in the Bible book of Joshua, Chapter 3), he had a man from each tribe carry a stone out of the riverbed that was now dry (read about it in the Bible book of Joshua, Chapter 4). The mission for those simple rocks was an easy stack to remind the people of how and where God repeated the Red Sea miracle. He knew everyone who had experienced that event would soon die off. The power of their God must be remembered for those who followed so they wouldn't stray away from Him.

In closing, let’s read Joshua 4:24, which says, “He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”

Reminders of past events can either hold us back or propel us forward. Do your best to display something that will improve your service and devotion to God.

What do you have set up to remind you of this invisible God you serve?

Author Bio:

Wade Webster is a farm boy turned city slicker, heathen turned born-again Christian, truck driver turned writer doing his best to point folks to his best friend, Jesus Christ.  

He currently lives in Plano, Texas.

Wade is the author of 100 Prayers of a Writer, a book that didn't begin as a book, just weekly prayers to a group of writer friends.

He enjoys spending time in nature, running for exercise and dark chocolate, though not necessarily in that order. Apart from driving 18-wheelers for a living he has a part-time job painting houses on the side...and the front and back and inside.

As a teenager, he told his friends he never wanted to be considered normal. So far he's done a pretty good job of living up to that aspiration.