Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thankful Thursday: I Know Who I Am

It's Thursday and I'm thankful that I know who I am! 

Not what the world tells me I am, I know who I am in God's eyes. God sees me as beautiful, treasured, created in His image, and most importantly, He says I belong to Him (Galatians 3:26).

The world tells young girls and adult women who they are and what they should or should not do. You've got to look a certain way, act a certain way, dress in a certain in-season style, fix your hair with whatever trend is "in" and even speak and move in a certain manner. All of this--starting at a very young age and reinforced by the media, movies, magazines and sometimes your peers and other people you know--can do serious damage to a female's psyche and emotional well-being which is why I am SO glad that I know who I am in God's eyes.

Who I am is simply a child of God, one of His own. I can take solace in the Bible-based truth that God created me, He loves me and I am wonderfully and fearfully made as far as He is concerned. I don't have to live up to an airbrushed beauty standard that dominates magazines and pop culture. I don't have to talk a certain way, act or flatter my way into God's heart. Why not? Because He is my Heavenly Father and He loves me unconditionally.

Guess what? This post is not only for me, it's for you! Yes, YOU. If you are a human being on this planet Earth then the truth according to Psalm 139:14 is, YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made by your Maker who happens to be the King of the Universe (yes, there are other worlds out there created by God, we're not the only ones) and He loves you! Yes, the Creator of the Universe loves YOU and when He looks at you, He sees one of His own. You belong to God. Always remember that truth.

And who better to belong to, to be accepted by, to experience pure and perfect unconditional love from than the Almighty God?

It's a beautiful thing when you are treasured by the King and Creator of all humankind.

Allow these words to soak into your mind. Rest tonight on the truth that even if you don't have an earthly papa, you have a Heavenly Padre (Papa) in God and He will love you forever. God will protect you, He'll encourage you, He'll uplift you with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). God will send His angels to surround you and care for you. He will rescue you. He is your everything, all you'll ever need.

If you don't already believe in God, I encourage you to do so. Why? Because God believes in you and He loves you with all of His heart. God has amazing plans for your life (Jeremiah 29:11). Trust Him.



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Love is in the Air: Author interview with Catherine West

Welcome my special guest Catherine West!

She's new to my God is Love blog but not new to the world of Christian fiction! Catherine, according to her author bio which you can read in full later, is "an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda". 

I loved Catherine's first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow which was released in 2011 and won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. After reading Yesterday's Tomorrow, I decided that I want to read all of Catherine's books because her storytelling style is so captivating. She knows how to sweep her readers off their feet and place them into her fictional story world. When you read a book by Catherine, not only will you become invested in the characters, you will become a loyal fan of her work, or at least that's what happened to me!

But don't take my word for it, find out for yourself as you read today's blog post, an author interview with Catherine West! But first a promo for her latest novel, Bridge of Faith...

Blurb for Catherine West’s new book Bridge of Faith:

Two lives taken down different roads - one enduring love - one shot at starting over.

If only they believed in second chances.

Julia Connelly is finally free from twelve long years in an abusive relationship. Now able to live the life she’s longed for, Julia takes her two children back home to Vermont, hoping for peace and healing. The last person she expects to see is the man she eloped with at eighteen—who then abandoned her two months into their marriage, with little explanation.

When an assignment in the Middle East ends in tragedy, popular news correspondent, Reid Wallace, returns to his hometown seeking answers and peace of mind.

Confronting his past was not in the plan.

Now he’s asking different questions. Like why the only woman he’s ever really loved still mesmerizes him. Why the haunted expression she wears reaches right into his soul.

And why her twelve year-old son looks just like him.

They say you can’t go home again. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.

Author interview with Catherine West (answers from Catherine are marked "CW", questions from Alexis are in bold):

What makes you, “you” as a writer?

CW: Mmm. Honesty. Truth. Real issues, real life. Those are the things I’m passionate about in my writing. I strive to write believable stories that are true to life, and people can relate, on some level, to the things my characters experience.

Your work has won many awards! Name a few and share what they mean to you.

CW: Yesterday’s Tomorrow was awarded the INSPY for Romance, in 2011, so that was pretty cool. I love it when readers really connect with a book and, they did with this one, and the judges’ comments were particularly inspiring and encouraging to me.

Your professional biography says that you write “inspirational stories of hope and healing.” Why is that your niche and what main message are you hoping to share with the world?

CW: I’m a sucker for hope and second chances, I guess. Really, where would we be without them? I think that no matter how far you’ve fallen, even if you’ve turned your back on your faith and all you ever believed in, and the people you love, there’s still hope. Still a chance for redemption if you choose to take it. That’s the message I believe in, that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God, and I hope to show this through the stories I write. There is always a way back home, if you want to find it.

You live on the island of Bermuda! How’s the weather today? What do you love the most—and dislike the most—about island life?

CW: We’re a little cloudy today, but the sun is up there. A lovely breeze is drifting through my window and the ocean is nice and calm. I love the beauty I’m surrounded by. There are always flowers, no matter the season, everything is always green, and the way of life here just seems slower somehow. What do I dislike the most? That I am so far away from all my writer friends in the United States. Seriously. I’d love it if we were all close enough to get together for coffee and brainstorming at least once a month! But thank God for the Internet, because Skype comes in handy for that, a lot!

How did your degree in English prepare you to write books?

CW: I think it really ensured that I was widely read. I tried to choose classes that would give me a good grounding in all kinds of literature. I read British Classics, American Classics, Poetry, Greek Mythology, Children’s Literature, Shakespeare … you name it. I absolutely loved every minute. And I attended the University of Toronto, and most of my classes took place in very old, beautiful buildings and it totally set the mood for me.

*Segue*: I loved your first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow! It was the first book I read by you and it was SO good that now I want to read ALL of your books, including your latest release Bridge of Faith! Let’s spend some time talking about it.

What is the significance of the title Bridge of Faith?

CW: Oh, thanks! LOL! Well … you’ll understand that when you read the book! I don’t want to give the story away, but there is a covered bridge in the story that holds significance to both Reid and Julia, and toward the end of the book, an event takes place there that really tests their faith. The bridge itself is called Faith Bridge.

What elements of Bridge of Faith make it an inspirational contemporary romance?

CW: Both characters struggle with who they are and what they believe in. The story is really as much their faith journey as it is their journey back to finding themselves and figuring out where they belong.

What or who was the inspiration for your main characters Julia and Reid?

CW: I can’t say there were any real inspirations for the characters. I liked the idea of Reid being an overseas correspondent and a high profile kind of guy, because that would be so different from the world Julia comes from. They both sort of developed over time as the story unfolded, which is pretty much what happens with every book I write. I never start out with any fixed ideas. Everything’s up for grabs.

Were Julia and Reid romantically involved? Share their backstory.

CW: I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say, yes, yes they were.

In what ways are you hoping Julia and Reid’s story will resonate with your readers?

CW: I think their story really brings out the message that it’s never too late to start over, never too late for redemption, grace and forgiveness. And anything is possible if you really want it badly enough.

Would you say your book gives your readers hope for second chances? Why or why not?

CW: Bridge of Faith is all about second chances. Absolutely. It’s really vital for Reid and Julia to be able to grasp that the only way to move forward is to forgive, and offer that to one another, and to know that second chances are definitely possible.

You tackle serious real-life issues such as abuse and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in your book. Tell me why and what you hope to accomplish with that feature.

CW: Well, I didn’t set out to really make those issues the forefront of the story. But they are real and they do happen. Those kinds of challenges can scar and change a person forever. The test is to see what a character does with that kind of history, and how they move beyond the trauma and pain of their past. Again, it’s about grasping the concept of hope and trusting God to prepare new paths.

Reid is a popular news correspondent which I find to be an interesting career! What can you tell us about Reid’s profession and personal life? Describe his passion and share a few of his character flaws.

CW: He’s a small-town guy who’s made it big. He didn’t set out to be famous, but he suits it well. He’s probably a bit arrogant at the start of the story, definitely stubborn. His career has taken him all over the world, and he’ll do anything for a story, but that’s what ends up breaking him. His career is the most important thing to him but that changes over time. He comes across as very self-assured, but he’s actually not, and because of the PTSD, he’s really struggling to find himself again.

What is Julia’s career? What does she love and dislike? Share insight into her fictional life.

CW: Julia hasn’t done much with her life, and this is one of the things that she’s bitter about. She’d hoped to go to college, to become a journalist as well, but her dreams never came true. She’s a stay-at-home Mom, very protective of her two children, who she’ll do anything for, she loves her family, and she works with her best friend in a florist shop. Because of her traumatic background, she’s not very trusting, she’s still afraid a lot of the time, and she knows how to hold a grudge. She hates being lied to and told what to do, and she still feels abandoned by the man she once loved with all her heart.

What about Julia mesmerizes Reid?

CW: Hmm, can I say you’ll have to read the book to find out?! I think he’s just really struck by her courage. That despite everything she’s been through, she’s survived, pulled her children out and kept going, making sure they have a future. And he’s partly drawn to her because of their history, but he has to start seeing her for who she is now, not for who she was.

Explain the line on the summary of your book that reads, “They say you can’t go home again. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.”

CW: Both Reid and Julia are suffering and are forced to leave the places they were in so that they can find out what the future holds for them. Returning home was the only logical choice for them both.

Simply said, why did you write Bridge of Faith?

CW: My stories generally form over time. I didn’t set out with a particular message or even a solid storyline, but as I got to know my characters and developed their journeys, it became a story that I knew would have to be told, because everyone needs to know that second chances are always possible.

*Closing*: Let’s close this interview with a little insight into your life as an author...

What do you do when you’re not working on your next story?

CW: Well, you’ll probably find me outside playing with my dog, or walking him! I also love to read of course, and we watch a lot of movies. I travel a good deal, so that’s fun. Oh, and I suppose I should admit I spend a LOT of time on Facebook! LOL!

Why do you love roses and orchids?

CW: Roses I think come from my Mom. She was an avid gardener and loved roses, all varieties. I love the colors, the smell. They are so delicate and each bush provides a different experience. Orchids are different in that not all have a scent. But they are a unique plant and sometimes a challenge to grow and keep, so I think I enjoy them because of that aspect.

How did you meet and marry your dream man who is your husband? Did you “just know” he was “the one”? Share details.

CW: Ha. Well, funny story. We actually met on a Young Life trip in the United States, when I was just 15. Which sounds totally crazy to me now. We were climbing a mountain with the group, and I’m probably the biggest klutz in the world, which he kind of figured out, and quickly offered his assistance. We got to know each other after that, were friends for a while and then started dating … and 29 years later … here we are. How did I know he was the one? Let’s just say I had a few issues back then, and he loved me through them. Anyone that could put up with me the way he did, had to be the one.

Would you ever use your real-life love story as the backdrop for one of your fictional stories?

CW: Not particularly, but I think parts of our story are probably in every one of my books in some way.

Rachelle Gardner—well known as a “dream agent” for many Christian writers—is your agent! How did that happen? 

CW: Actually, I do love this story! I always say first and foremost, it was a total God thing. I’d just started getting serious about searching for an agent, gotten a few rejections and I was trying to figure out whether I really want to stick with the writing gig. It was around the time I started working on Yesterday’s Tomorrow. Rachelle was blogging and that’s how I got to know her. I found out she was a freelance editor, we talked story a bit and I eventually asked her advice on this book, because I didn’t know how it would fly in CBA. So she was really the first person to encourage me to write the book. I mentioned I’d finished it at some point, and she asked if she could read it. Soon after that she announced that she was becoming a literary agent, and not too long after, she offered representation. I think I was one of her first clients. And honestly, she is the best! All these years and she’s never given up, always encouraged and pushed me to keep going, even when all the doors seemed shut. 
And I'm delighted to say we've finally been able to celebrate some exciting publishing news, which I'll share in the near future!

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

CW: Do the research, study the craft, believe in yourself and never ever give up! There’s so much more, but that’s really the most important part. If this is what you believe God’s gifted you with, if it’s really your dream, it’ll happen. Anything is possible!

Complete this sentence: What gives me the most joy as a writer is _________ because ______________________.

What gives me the most joy as a writer is doing what I love because God has given me the ability to write, and the opportunity to share those stories with others.

Thanks for the interview, Catherine!
Oh but wait, dear readers, there's more! Catherine has agreed to host a book giveaway contest here on my blog. She agreed to give away one e-book copy and one paperback copy of her latest novel, Bridge of Faith to two individual winners!

You can enter the contest by answering Catherine's question below and filling out the info requested by the Rafflecopter widget. 

Here's Catherine's question for you, my dear blog readers, to answer: "What about Bridge of Faith appeals to you as a reader and makes you want to read the book?"

Here's the Rafflecopter widget:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Author bio:
Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Her first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in 2011 and won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. Catherine’s second novel, Hidden in the Heart, released in September 2012, was long listed in the 2012 INSPY’s and was a finalist in the 2013 Grace Awards. Catherine’s latest novel, Bridge of Faith, is now available on Amazon.

When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at

INSPY Award-winning author Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine’s latest novel, Bridge of Faith, is now available on Amazon.

Buy Catherine's book:
Amazon link to Bridge of Faith -

Connect with Catherine: 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Book review: A Year of Living Prayerfully

Who leaves the comfort of their home and takes their spouse on a spontaneous journey around the world and calls the entire experience A Year of Living Prayerfully?

Jared Brock, author of A Year of Living Prayerfully, took his wife Melissa on the journey of a lifetime. It was a trip around the world with stops in spiritual meccas like Italy, Spain, England and visiting the world's biggest church in Seoul, South Korea. The purpose of the trip was for Brock to learn 1) if prayer really works and (2) how he can become more effective in prayer.

I must admit, when I first received this book from Tyndale Publishers, I thought maybe I should have selected a different book to read. It simply did not at first glance, look like a book I would enjoy reading. But as I opened the book and my journey began, I was so glad that I did not let my first judgment of the book's cover and summary deter me from starting to read the book. And when I started, I couldn't stop reading it until I reached the very last page!

So without further ado, why don't you continue reading this blog post? Discover why as you read my review of Brock's book, this read is worth your time and your thought.

Alexis A. Goring's review of Jared Brock's book A Year of Living Prayerfully:

The story starts with a Foreword written by Mark Buchanan who opens with the saying from a bumper sticker, “You’re unique, just like everyone else.”

Buchanan goes on to explain the Jared Brock, author of A Year of Living Prayerfully, is truly unique and really not like anyone else. As you turn the pages of Brock’s book you see that his uniqueness shows forth in his writing. Brock captures your attention as the reader within minutes of thumbing through Chapter 1 and as this reader progressed through the book I found Buchanan’s statement about Brock’s book to be very true when he promised the reader that once you start this book, you can’t stop reading it until the end.

“You will be swept up in the sheer force of the storytelling, the beauty of the prose, the many comedies of error, the exotic cast of characters, and—above all—the drama of Jay’s prayer life,” said Buchanan.

One of the first issues of prayer that the author Brock addresses is prefaced with a quote from Armin Gesswein who said, “If God wants us to pray without ceasing, it is because He wants to answer without ceasing.” Brock shows the reader through the pages about his year of living prayerfully that God answered his prayers all along the way and gave him unbelievable experiences too such as visiting the Pope inside his residence located in Italy!

Who gets to not only pray with the pope but for the pope and have their photo taken with the pope on the Pope’s iPhone?! Brock and his wife did just that during the part of their journey that they spent in Italy. Yes, the pope (Monsignor Alfred) really did ask Brock to pray for him and Brock obliged.

Halfway through his travels around the world, Brock and his wife visited Eastern USA to spend time in Maryland with the Quakers, officially called the Religious Society of Friends and founded by farmers and tradesmen in the mid-seventeenth century. Quakers engage in “waiting worship”—silence.

After his visit with the Quakers, Brock realized that while the church has a lot to learn about silence, “we also need to guard our theology like it’s our life.” Brock emphasizes the importance of listening to Christ and returning to the Word of God (The Holy Bible) as “our primary source of freshwater.”

In silence, Brock says, we commune with Christ. The author shared the example of the prophet Elijah who in Bible times, wanted to hear God’s voice. God sent the wind, the earthquake and the fire and His voice was not in those grand events. God chose to speak to Elijah in a “still small voice” and Brock said one commentary calls “a voice of gentle silence.”

Brock gave a modern day example, asking his readers, "If two people sat down for dinner and both of them talked the entire time, how would they hear the other person’s point of view?" “Silence,” says Brock. “Is a gift that allows us to turn a monologue into a dialogue. Without silence, there is no conversation. Without silence, we miss a large part of what God has to say to us.”

This point resonated with me (Alexis, the book reviewer) as a creative because I thrive on sound, music, colors, movies and it wasn’t until recent years that I began to truly appreciate silence and began to know what it means to “be still” and “know” that God is God as it says in the Bible verse Psalm 46:10.

Prior to his year of living prayerfully, the author asked two questions: 1) Does prayer really work? And (2) How can I be more effective in prayer?

God did not disappoint the author. He revealed to Brock that yes, prayer does work but only if you understand that prayer is a conversation between you and God which means you need to do more than talk to God, you need to listen for His response. God also showed Brock that it is a good thing that not all prayers are answered and that unanswered prayer may mean that God is trying to get your attention.

“Maybe,” Brock says on page 210, “God is waiting for my heart to realign with His.”

When breakthroughs in life do not come right away, it should drive you to seek God even more. Somewhere along their journey through Eastern USA, the author and his wife Michelle “came to a small spiritual crossroads.” The author decided that he was “determined to trust God” no matter what the outcome and his faith grew because of that experience.

A Year of Living Prayerfully proves to be an informative, edifying and uplifting read that encourages you to think about what prayer means for mortals in this modern day world. The author doesn’t leave you to discover prayer on your own—Brock includes an interactive list called “Seven Ways to Pray” on the final pages of his book.

Brock’s book is not only well-written, it’s intriguing! I would recommend it as an easy yet educational read for anyone who’s seeking God and looking for something more to life. I’d also share this book with people who grew up in the church and still practice their faith but are looking for a deeper relationship with God.

And that’s exactly what Brock accomplished in writing A Year of Living Prayerfully—he encourages the reader to seek God through the best form of communication humankind did not create—prayer.

*Tyndale House Publishers provided the reviewer (Alexis A. Goring) with a complimentary copy of this book.

Connect with Jared Brock:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Love is in the Air: Author interview with Mary L. Ball

Mary L. Ball writes inspirational fiction and romance for the Christian fiction market. 

Postmarked Ever After, Escape to Big Fork Lake and Stone Destiny are three of Mary's books, all of which she will discuss today in her author interview!

Grab a cup of tea, treat yourself to a scone or fresh fruit (the healthier option) and spend time learning about today's featured author and her books!

Questions from Alexis in bold, answers from Mary L. Ball not in bold...

Alexis: You’ve said you’re an inspirational author who feels called to write about worldly issues. Explain how you are sure about this and tell us, what issues do you address in your books?

Mary: When I first started writing, I really tried to shy away from conflicts and temptations that the world tosses our way. I wanted to create carefree novels full of sunshine, but with each attempt and every chapter, the process grew harder. My mind kept steering toward the “what if’s,” and how faith could change a person’s perspective about a situation. I soon realized that the Lord was leading me to touch lives with the grace and mercy that He offers to each of us. For me, the plot and the substance of the stories will not come together until I drive into the imperfections in life, and highlight everyday problems showing the readers a different approach than most of the world would sees.

In my debut novel Escape to Big Fork Lake, the main character had to deal with an abusive situation and after she fled to another state, she was then accused of murder.

My latest novel, Redemption in Big Fork Lake, wraps around alcohol addiction. The main character struggles with the problem, and the repercussions that drinking can cause.

Your titles and book covers for Escape to Big Fork Lake, Postmarked Ever After, and Stone of Destiny captured my interest. Tell us, in a few sentences, about each book.

Escape to Big Fork Lake: Bad luck seems to follow Sam Blacker. She loses her job and faces daily struggles keeping her drunken neighbor away from her. An unexpected inheritance gives her a chance for a new beginning and Sam, a city girl at heart, is hesitant. However, after a brutal attack she has no choice. Will an inheritance bring new happiness or a trap for murder?

Postmarked Ever After: Recently widowed, Serena Gray is dedicated to her nursing career and finds solace in her faith. Months after a shooting takes her husband’s life, a mysterious letter arrives that raises questions about his past. She tries to forget the words scripted on the paper until a young patient has a brush with death, and recounts a vivid dream...something he could never have known.

Stone of Destiny: Taylor Harrison’s first contact with what she believes is an insignificant ring, lost for fifty years, sends her life spinning. She experiences strange unexpected feelings that Taylor doesn't understand. Thoughts that should remain unspoken are voiced. Taylor’s emotional journey begins, testing a heart as cold as the ring itself and forcing her to question everything she believes.

Who are your favorite characters in each of those books? Explain why.

Samantha, the main character in Escape to Big Fork Lake really touched my heart as I watched her grow from an unsure woman wondering where she belonged, to a remarkable lady who comes to accept that bad things often happen to good people. On Sam’s journey, she finds that mishaps can lead to greater blessings.

In Postmarked Ever After, I think my favorite would be the love interest, Adam Knox. He is raising a daughter by himself and although he has stepped away from God, Adam still does his best to be a loving father. He really had a hard time accepting the message that was presented to Serena for their lives. What I really like about Adam is the way he steps back into his faith as he struggles with the content in the letter.

Stone of Destiny is a different kind of story, some may think it touches on magic, but that’s not what the book is about. My favorite character in this book is Granny Kaye. She, like many Christians, sometimes lets her concerns get in the way of faith. When Granny Kaye realizes this, she gets back into the word and renews her inner strength.

Who publishes your books? Share a few notes on your journey to publication.

Prism Book Group published all but two of my books. Going through a traditional publisher was a long growing process, but well worth the year and half it took to see my debut novel online. Joan Alley, the editor-in-chief of Prism has taught me a lot about the art of writing a good story.

Life Inspiring Books, my own imprint, is the publisher of Postmarked Ever After and Christmas at Angel Ranch.

Do you have an agent or are you an indie author? Share details. 

I’m a traditionally published, and hybrid author, but I aspire to grow. Although, I enjoy dipping my feet into the self-publishing pool, I would like to find an agent and venture out.

Describe your most memorable moment as a new author of romance. 

A positive moment is the time that a reader raved about the way my characters show romance in their everyday life.

Every author has a storytelling style. What’s yours?

One reader referred to my writing as, similar to that of Grace Livingston Hill. My publisher says that I write with a moderate approach.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your books?

In my novels I always try to highlight the fact that having faith gives one the strength to overcome.

Describe your writing space. What makes it special to you?

My husband and I sing, so my writing room doubles as a practice space. One area holds my computer, desk, and printer. The other side has my karaoke machine, our music, and traveling singing system. On the side where my office space is, I have a window next to my desk. Outside only a few feet away, a bird feeder hangs from a tree. A big angel that my daughter gave me rests on the wall over my desk. To me, it’s perfect. I see and hear God’s beauty outside as I write, and a glance over my desk where the angel hangs reminds me of the Lord’s mercy.

What do you love most about being a novelist? What do you not like about it?

I enjoy creating the characters. And I’m sure I’m not alone when I say the least liked part are the many editing stages an author must do.

As a woman of faith, how does your relationship with God affect your storytelling?

I see things from an optimistic prospective, always understanding that trials build patience.

What or who inspires you?
I’m always asked this. I have to say that learning new ways to stay positive is one inspiration, and Nicholas Sparks is the other.

Share a bit about your personal life (family, children, hobbies, etc.)?

I’m a stay at home nana. I have a mother with Alzheimer’s and a stepdad with dementia who are in a care facility close to our home. I visit them three or more times a week and attend to their needs.  I keep my youngest grandson around the school schedule while my daughter works.  My husband is an associate pastor, and we have a singing ministry. When I do have down time, I like to fish with hubby and enjoy spending time at the lake.

Share the one Bible verse that keeps you focused and faithful to God.

I have this Bible verse taped to my computer. It’s from the King James Version of Mark 11:23 and it reads, “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”

I’ve found that a mountain can be anything. For me, the key to having a relationship with the Lord is to believe with a whole heart.
Author bio: 
Mary L. Ball is an inspirational fiction author and lives in North Carolina between the wondrous mountains and beautiful beaches. She writes about real-life problems, blended with romance.

Her novels include: Escape to Big Fork Lake, Stone of Destiny, Postmarked Ever After, Christmas at Angel Ranch and Redemption in Big Fork Lake. She is also a contributing author of 21 Stories of Faith.

When Mary is not working on her latest story, she enjoys fishing, reading, and singing with her husband at church functions.

Connect with Mary: 

Twitter -

Website -

Buy Mary's books: 

Escape to Big Fork Lake -

Stone of Destiny -

Postmarked Ever After -

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Love in is the Air: Watercolored Pearls

Today, I'd like to re-introduce you to a wonderful journalist-turned-author, Stacy Hawkins Adams! 

She's been here before and made quite the impression. Now she's returned for my new blog series with details on one of her books, Watercolored Pearls!

I believe you will love Stacy's books, I recommend all of her work! But today, the focus is on Watercolored Pearls which is Stacy's third novel first released in 2007.

So without further ado, re
ad on to Stacy's feature below...

Watercolored Pearls book blurb:

Watercolored Pearls is the acclaimed third novel of author Stacy Hawkins Adams. The award-winning book was first released in 2007, and in January 2015, Stacy re-released the book with a new cover, and in ebook form for the first time.

What's it about?

Serena, a career woman turned stay-at-home mom, wonders if she has made the right choice. Erika struggles to let go of her abusive past. Tawana, a new lawyer, is trying to pull her life together, but her ambitions keep getting in the way. Three women, each at different places in their lives, find themselves at the same crossroads—looking to God and to each other for answers on how to find beauty in themselves and in their journey.

A page-turning story of how God can use the tragic, the shameful, and the less-than-perfect circumstances of life to create something beautiful.

Reader Review of Watercolored Pearls, written by 
Renee Williams for

There comes a time in life when we all must make crucial choices; critical decisions that will determine the course of our life. And it's during these times that we may find ourselves crying out to God in despair, and yes, sometimes even questioning His infinite wisdom. It is also during these periods that we realize our strength and ability to endure the complexities of life in spite of the obstacles we must face. In Watercolored Pearls by Stacy Hawkins Adams, Serena, Tawana and Erika find themselves in this very situation.

For Serena, becoming a mother was one of her greatest desires, although it took a while for the dream to finally become a reality. Serena's family is now complete - a loving, God fearing husband, and two adorable, yet rambunctious twin boys. Sounds ideal right? Well, even though Serena rejoices at having her prayers answered, at times she's overwhelmed by feelings of doubt about being a good mother, and whether or not she made the right decision giving up the career she loved.

After leaving her abusive husband Elliott, Erika is finally at a point in her life where everything is on track and going smoothly, including having a new love interest. But, confusion and doubt begin to set in when her ex starts sending her letters, asking and hoping for a chance at reconciliation.

Tawana has finally realized her dream of becoming a lawyer. But the skeletons in her closet are dancing, threatening to expose all of her dirty little secrets. Stand firm and face the demons or tuck tail and run is the dilemma she finds herself up against.

As each woman struggles with these personal problems and more, they all come together as a support system for each other. With the help of Charlotte, the executive director of the shelter Erika took refuge in, and a bag of three loose pearls of varying colors, Serena, Tawana, and Erika must each decide the path they will take. Will they choose God's way or their own way?

Once again I'm impressed with Hawkins' latest literary endeavor! Not only is her writing crisp, clear and concise, she has also mastered the ability to create a compelling tale that not only keeps readers interested from the first page to the last, but also teaches some very timely lessons about faith and trusting in God without being overly preachy. It is apparent with each novel that Hawkins has taken time to study and learn her craft, resulting in a quality product each and every time.

*Renee Williams writes for 
All the Buzz Literary Reviews

Watercolored Pearls, book excerpt written by Stacy Hawkins Adams:

Today the tears stopped.

The way her mother looked at her this morning told Tawana if she didn’t pull herself together, she’d soon find herself admitted to a local hospital.

“You’ve been crying for two weeks and you won’t tell me why. Misha doesn’t hear you every night but I do. You’re losing weight, drinking bottle after bottle of wine and using all the tissue in the house. What is going on with you, Tawana? Do I need to call a doctor?”

Mama had ranted before, but today she picked up the yellow pages to find some help.

Tawana dashed over and snatched the book from her.

“No, Mama! I’m fine; I just have a lot on my mind.”

“I can see that, Tawana.”

Ms. Carter extended her hand for Tawana to return the phone book.

“Since you won’t talk to me, you’re going to talk to someone. I didn’t come up here with you to this highfalutin’ place, so this fancy education you’re gettin’ could drive you crazy. Misha needs you.”

She formed a thin line with her lips, but Tawana already knew what her mother was too proud to admit: she needed her too.

Tawana fell to her knees in front of her mother and laid her head on her lap. Sobs wracked her body.

Ms. Carter rubbed her daughter’s back and wept too.

“What is it, Tawana? What is wrong?”

When the tears finally abated, Tawana sat back and wiped her eyes with the heels of her hands.

“I don’t want to talk about it, Mama, but I’m going to be okay. I’m sorry I’ve scared you; it’s just been a stressful time. It’s going to be alright.”

Ms. Carter stared at Tawana, wanting to believe her.

“One of them boyfriends did something to you, didn’t he?”

~ End of excerpt ~

Online Link to Excerpt -

Author bio:

Stacy Hawkins Adams is an award-winning author, journalist and book coach who weaves tales in fiction and nonfiction that help readers gain confidence in their own stories. 

She has penned eight faith-based novels that highlight women's friendships, personal growth and unconditional love, and one nonfiction devotional book. Her recent novels include "The Someday List," "Lead Me Home" and an anniversary edition of the acclaimed "Watercolored Pearls." 

Stacy also serves as the parenting columnist for the daily newspaper in Richmond, Va. and is a sought-after speaker. Her tenth book is slated for release in fall 2015. Learn more about Stacy and her body of work through her official website,  

Buy Stacy’s book, Watercolored Pearls: (print and e-book versions) -
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Monday, April 20, 2015

Love is in the Air: Is a Happy-ending Romance for Real?

What's a love story like when God is missing from the cast of characters?

Explore this real-life issue with Davalynn Spencer via her devotional below this message. 

Is a Happy-ending Romance for Real?
A devotional written by Davalynn Spencer

During my recent Spring Break from teaching at the local community college, I spent one morning participating in an author event there. Several book tables were set up in the commons area through which attendees of a week-long Senior Mini-College passed between sessions.

“I used to read romance,” one woman said as she stopped to scan my table. “Used to believe all that stuff.” She swatted the air. “Humph! Three marriages later, I’m a cynic. Give me a good murder mystery any day.”

Not particularly quick-witted at that moment, I laughed and nodded. To each his own, right? Not everyone enjoys the same genre. But as I watched her walk away, regret rose—not from failing to sell her a book, but from failing to show her what God could do in a relationship.

And that’s why I write inspirational romance.

Some call it Christian romance. Call it what you will, the big difference between this type of romance and general market romance is not just in the absence of gratuitous sex, but in the presence of an unseen character.

I’ll take a stab at the type of romance novels the disgruntled woman read. “Slender thigh,” we used to called them. “Bodice-rippers,” with physically perfect heroes and heroines against whom no real human could stand. But the core issue lies far deeper than the stereotypical characters and plots. Guessing again at the woman’s type of romance novel, I’ll suggest that the stories she read were godless in the purest form.

God was missing from the cast.

The tiny book of First John in the New Testament tells us that God is love. The larger gospel of John shows us that God is love. And the last book in the New Testament, penned by the same man, is a spectacular display of God’s happy ending. It is, to overly simplify the matter, the romance between God and His bride, the church.

You see, that’s the difference between a love story and a romance. Consider Shakespeare’s classic love story, “Romeo and Juliet.” No happy ending. Not a romance.

Ever hear of a blockbuster movie from 1970 titled Love Story with Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal? Guess why it wasn’t called Romance?

Personally, I like happy-ending stories so I read them and write them. My favorites are full of fallible characters, with realistic challenges and heartaches, who involve God in their lives. Perhaps that’s the most important connection: God wants to be involved in our lives.

I think the Creator likes happy-ending stories too, because He wrote the best one of all. Talk about a hero who gives all for the one he loves (check out that book of John). And a hero who comes in on a white horse to rescue the object of his affection? You got it—Revelation. I take a heap of comfort in knowing that my relationship with Him is a happy-never-ending eternity with the Lover of my soul.

Author bio: 
Davalynn Spencer writes inspirational Western romance, historical and contemporary, complete with rugged cowboys, their challenges, and their loves. 

Connect with Davalynn:
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Twitter - @davalynnspencer

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Love is in the Air: Blind Devotion

Love is in the Air: Romantic Comedies and Faith in God

Today it is truly a delight to welcome another blogger friend to God is Love!

Melissa Tagg (the blogger friend) is not new to God is Love. She's been here a couple of times! But each and every time Melissa visits, she brings something new and inspirational to the table and today is no exception.

Join Melissa today as she shares her take on how writing and reading romantic comedies for the Christian fiction book market is a lot like taking a faith journey with God.

Curious to know what that means? Read on for a better explanation! :)

How rom-coms are a little like faith…really!
A guest post by Melissa Tagg

So, I write romantic comedy, right? It took me awhile to embrace this. Mostly because for a while I was convinced I totally had the suspense-writer vibe going. Then I read what I’d written. And decided I should probably be the last person to read it.

But once I found my writing feet and discovered my voice, rom-com was the obvious genre of choice for me. Because I loooove funny. And there’s just nothing funnier than romance.

Seriously, nothing else so perfectly lends itself to humor of the awkward, eyebrow-raising or even outrageous variety. Let’s look at an example from my own life:

Years ago I started dating this guy during January. So February rolls around and with it, Valentine’s Day…which is really not my favorite holiday anyway, but is SO much worse when you’re all like, “Dude, we’ve only been dating a month, so how do we do this whole gift thing?”

Guess what I ended up getting the guy. Guess…

A pillowcase.

I’m not even joking!

So yeah, romance is funny and now, three books in (with a fourth scheduled for next year) I’ve fully embraced my rom-com roots. And one of the cool things I’ve learned about writing romantic fiction, thanks to the stellar teaching of Susan May Warren through My Book Therapy, is that there are basically two kinds of romance plots:

Why/Why Not and Why Not/Why

In the former you’ve got two characters who obviously belong together. There are all kinds of Whys pushing them toward each other…but then as the story moves forward, a series of Why Nots creep in to pull them apart.

In the latter, your two characters start out with obvious Why Nots between them…and a series of Whys gradually push them together.

The key is keeping the Whys and Why Nots balanced…which is what creates the perfect romantic tension in a story.

Sidenote: Whenever I massively dislike a romantic comedy (which, sadly, has been the case for most of whatever Hollywood has put out in the past 10-15 years), I’m realizing it’s usually because the Why and Why Not are lopsided. Either the Why Not is so huge that I just can’t buy the two characters being together or the Why is so obvious that I’m like, “People, just get together already.”

But here’s the thing: Regardless of whether a rom-com goes the Why/Why Not or Why Not/Why route, it always ends in the same place…

In a good rom-com, the Why always eventually wins.

And here’s where we take a turn for the spiritual…because I was thinking about this the other day…how life can feel like a series of Why Nots. Not romantically, but generally. Some people start out with a bunch of Why Nots stacked up against them–maybe a difficult home life, poverty, the lack of a parent’s love. Others have a great start but get slammed by a big Why Not–or five–later on in life.

Whatever the plot, whatever the specifics of the Why Nots…everyone’s got ‘em. Those things that make us feel helpless or less-than-whole or purposeless. But as we look at the Why Nots in our lives, it’s the source of our Why–the thing pushing us forward into the women and men we’re meant to be–that’s going to make all the difference in how our stories turn out from chapter to chapter.

And I could probably go on and on about looking for a Why in the wrong place. But here’s the bottom line: I want my Why to be found in Christ.

When it is, when my Why is firmly rooted in the confident belief that I was created for a reason…with purpose…and am loved beyond what I can understand…

Well, then, it always wins.

Doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Doesn’t mean the Why Nots don’t stink.

But when I’m holding on to that kind of truth and growing trust, at the end of the day…the Why always wins.

Like a good rom-com.

Only a LOT better than anything I could write.

Author bio:

Melissa Tagg is a former reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, she is also the marketing events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers. 

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. 

Melissa loves connecting with readers at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Buy Melissa's new book From the Start:

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Connect with Melissa:



Instagram: melissatagg

Twitter: @Melissa_Tagg

Friday, April 17, 2015

Love is in the Air: His Will

Welcome Caryl McAdoo to my blog today. She's here to talk about the importance of seeking God and following His call on your life.

If you have questions about God's purpose, plan and will for your life then this devotional written by Christian author Caryl is just for you! :)

Did I mention she's giving away a copy of her latest book release, Sing A New Song? Answer Caryl's question toward the end of her devotional and follow the instructions listed in the Rafflecopter giveaway tool in order to enter this contest for your chance to win a copy of Caryl's book! :)


His Will
A devotional written by Caryl McAdoo

It is surely true that we all have been in a position where we know God is calling for change, right? You know it in your spirit. Like the old crooners sang, ‘something’s gotta give’! Something has to happen. Your life is about to change—whether it’s a new job, a new house, or city—maybe only a step or two will do. One baby step forward. Remember that game “Mother, May I”?

You know He wants you to move.

Circumstances are bringing you to a place where you will be forced to make a decision. And truth be known, though it might be scary, you’re absolutely willing no matter how comfortable you’ve been right where you are. Why, if God wanted, you’d be happy to keep things as they are…for another decade.

But you are certain that is not the case.

Still, your heart’s desire is obedience.

Here’s the problem. What exactly does He want you to do?

One time when I was in one of those places, He gave me a song to sing. I love it when He does that. This song’s titled "Your Will". The lyrics go (without the repeats): I just want to be in Your Will, Father. I just need to know Your Will. (repeat) For to walk in obedience is what I want to do. For to walk in obedience shows how much I love You. Open my ears, Lord; so I can hear. Teach me to listen as I draw near. Silence my flesh, Lord, in Jesus’ name, and by the power of His blood, I will proclaim that demons and devils will not speak to me. I’ll not hear their lies or their blasphemies. I only will hear the clear voice of my Lord. And then I’ll obey Your every Word. I just want to be in Your Will, Father. I just need to know Your Will.

For me, these times are a test. "Do you trust me?"

I have come to stand, then stand some more, knowing God is in control and on the throne. He knows my every need. He will never leave or forsake me. He has a plan, a good plan. These are all promises from the Word (The Holy Bible).

To win a copy of my book, Sing A New Song, I’d like to know that I’m not the only one. Console me by answering this question, "
Have you been in such a place? Are you in one now?"
Author bio: 
Simon & Schuster published Christian hybrid author, Caryl McAdoo is currently writing three series: her historical Christian ‘Texas Romance’; the contemporary ‘Red River Romance’; and ‘The Generations’, her Biblical fiction. 

The novelist loves singing new songs the Lord gives her, and she paints. In 2008, she and her high school sweetheart-husband Ron moved from the DFW area—home for fifty-five years—to the woods of Red River County. 

Caryl counts four children and fourteen grandsugars life’s biggest blessings believing all good things come from God. Praying her story gives God glory, she hopes each one will also minister His love, mercy, and grace to its readers. Caryl and Ron live in Clarksville, the county seat, in the far northeast corner of the Lone Star State.

Details on Caryl's latest book: Sing A New Song is Book 2 in the Red River Romance series. It is a stand alone, contemporary Christian romance set in Northeast Texas.

Book blurb: 
The untimely death of her father shatters Mary Esther Robbins’ heart and separates her from her grade school best friend, Samuel Levi Baylor. During their twenty years apart, she fulfills her life’s dream of penning new songs and singing God’s praise with a Christian band, while he tends his growing cattle herd and shares the Good News at every opportunity. 

The Lord brings her home then throws them back together when Samuel agrees to help Mary Esther move and remodel her childhood home. The two decades lost vanish, and their time together convinces both the other is the true soul mate. But misunderstanding and fear keeps them from expressing their true love. Though jealousy rears its ugly head, can love and commitment hold the two together? And while they’re both dedicated to ministering the Gospel together, can they do it as husband and wife? 

Excerpt from Sing A New Song:

The twelve-year-old boy who drove that same truck to her daddy’s funeral stood over six feet tall, a full grown man decked out in jeans, blue long-sleeved work shirt, and scuffed boots, but she’d know him anywhere.

He gawked. “It is, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it’s me. How in the world have you been, Samuel? How’d you know I was in town?”

“Well, I’ll be. Blessed. I’ve been blessed, but I didn’t have any idea. None. What are you doing here? Slumming?”

She refused to take the bait. “I’ll have you to know I’m moving back. Just now I was trying decide if the old girl is worth fixing up.”

“Really? What? You’re not singing anymore?”

“Of course, I am. No way will I ever stop singing, you goof, but I can sing in Clarksville same as in Dallas. I quit the band though. I’m sick of the road. If you could call it that.”

He nodded and looked around. “So what do you think?”

That he didn’t offer to give her a hello hug was just wrong, but she didn’t say anything about it. “I don’t know, but what about you? Are you married? How’s your grandfather? Y’all still living in English?”

He laughed a melodious bass that begged for a harmony. The boy’s promise had bloomed.

“Same old girl, except you got famous.”

“Oh, not so much.”

“PawPaw—thanks for asking—went home three years ago, and no, I haven’t found a lady who would have me, and yes, I’m still in English. I’ve doubled its size though, got me a right nice block of black land.”

“What are you doing? Farming?”

“Heavens no. Still trying to make a cowboy.”

She nodded. The old timers and cow punchers all told the same story. Not a one of them ever made it, but they were all still trying.

“Okay, now that we’ve caught up, what do you think about my house? Is she worth moving? I was thinking of setting her back in the woods a bit, in front of that deep pool daddy dug. You remember it? Should I bulldoze her or find me a carpenter and fix her up?”

“Of course I remember that pool, and you have found your carpenter. Me. If you want, I’ll have a look see.”


Review of Caryl's book, written by Christine Barber, Canadian author of Broken to Pieces:

Sing A New Song is a delightful breath of Christian air. McAdoo writes in such an eloquent way bringing her audience always nearer to God. She opens her readers’ minds to fresh ways of viewing Christian life and all it has to offer.

The characters are loveable and react to one another in humorous ways. The romantic tale is just as lovely as always demonstrating Christian virtues we all be best to remember. The story was illuminating in how it shares the Gospel in such a beautiful way.

The words from Samuel’s sermons as well as the gorgeous lyrics of Mary Esther’s songs fill our hearts with newfound worship for Our Lord. Truly an inspiring tale. It is Christian fiction in its best; recounting a romantic love story while bringing its readers closer to God. A treasure for sure.


Buy Caryl's books:

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Love is in the Air: Romance, Writing and Believing in Love Again

If you've ever suffered from a broken heart and wonder how you could ever love someone again, today's guest post is for you.

First featured on my blog in February when she shared her real-life romance fairy tale called "My Hero," originally written for my True Love Stories series which took place for the entire month featuring one true love story of a real-life couple every day, Angela Ruth Strong is here again. Only this time, as a guest for my new "Love is in the Air" blog series!

Today, Angela will show you that it is possible to recover from your broken heart. She will testify about how God, who IS Love, never gives up on you even when you've given up on yourself.

Enjoy visiting with Angela! :)

Romance, Writing and Believing in Love Again
A guest post written by Angela Ruth Strong

I grew up reading romance novels. Everything from young adult books to my mom’s favorite author Debbie Macomber. So it was pretty natural for me to start writing romance. I sold my first one to the Love Finds You series. I’d never been happier.

Until my husband left me. And I had to finish writing the love story as my own marriage fell apart.

I was never going to write romance again. How could I spend my time making up characters who fell in love and got married? Attending weddings as a divorced woman was hard enough. I even ended my relationship with my agent because she wanted to focus solely on selling romance novels.

But then I met this man named Jim Strong. He loved me like I’d never been loved before. And I’m not talking romance. I’m talking about respect. Understanding. Patience. Acceptance.

It changed my life. And I don’t just mean I had somebody to sit next to at church again. I mean I could open up and spill the worst things about myself to try to scare him away, and he would adore me more. I could totally completely freak out about something small and inconsequential, and he would sacrifice himself to make it better. Or I would ignore a really big problem in my life, and he would point it out because he wanted the best for me.

This couldn’t be real, could it? It couldn’t last. It was too good to be true. Just like all those romance novels I’d read.

Even if it was real, I didn’t deserve it. I was damaged goods. I’d had my chance and blown it.

Except it did last. It grew stronger. It was better than any romance novel I’d ever read.

I realized that love is the most powerful thing on the planet. It changes lives. I wanted to share it with the world.

So I’m writing romance again. There’s nothing else I’d rather write. Even when a Christian bookstore owner tells me that Christians shouldn’t read romance. “They should read important things like politics.”

I don’t only feel bad for that man’s wife; I feel bad for him. I feel bad for the broken me who was afraid to believe in the mysterious beauty of two people coming together as one.

Now here I am, ringing figurative wedding bell. Restoring hope. Promising that the most amazing thing about love is that it can’t be earned; it can only be given freely. And when it is, miracles happen.

There is nothing more “Christian” than a love story. We are his bride.

This is the answer our society craves. This was the answer I craved. And I’m an even better writer now that I’ve learned about love the hard way.

“We love because he first loved us.”

Whether you believe in true love or not, you are loved. And writing about love stories is my way of wishing you all your own happily ever after.

Author bio: 

Angela sold her first story to a national magazine while still in high school and went on to study journalism at the University of Oregon. Her debut novel, Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho released in 2010. 

She started IDAhope Writers to inspire other authors, and she has currently won the Idaho Top Author Award two years in a row. 

Find out more than you ever wanted to know about her at

Author book info: Angela’s story “False Security” is featured in the series of “three high-stakes novellas of Inspirational Romantic Suspense,” the other two books are written by other authors not featured on my blog here today. 

Here’s the summary for Angela’s story “False Security”:

Alex Pierce needs Laney Winters to help him prove neither of them is responsible for the millions of dollars that went missing after Laney arrested him for bank robbery five years ago. Besides Laney not believing he truly repented in prison, there’s the problem of the real thief trying to kill her and the police department treating her like a dirty cop. With the possibility of another crime being pinned on them, Laney finally teams up with Alex to save her life. If only she could trust him with her heart, as well. 

Buy Angela’s story “False Security” on by following this link to the official book series "Love on the Run"