Friday, May 31, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Life lessons learned from the devotion of a bulldog


Bulldog Devotion
A devotional by Kristy Horine

“Establish Your word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You.”
– Psalm 119:38 (NKJV)

I once had a friend named Reeca. She once had a friend named George.

George weighed seventy pounds and was nearly twenty inches tall. His nose smashed back into his face. Furrows of wrinkles rippled from there all the way back to his ears. His teeth were horribly crooked, yet his severe under bite gave him quite an endearing countenance. His bowed legs and curled, stumpy tail rounded out the extraordinary features of his breed.

Yes, George was a dog. Although George was a prime specimen of English Bulldog, he possessed an admirable trait that far outweighed his physical characteristics – this dog was devoted.

He was devoted to the idea that he was a lap dog, despite his size. Those who survived his antics received a towel to sop up the viscous liquid that continually dripped from his enormous jowls.

He was devoted to the complete and utter destruction of Reeca’s daughter’s bike. It didn’t matter if the bike was parked or in use, George was intent on annihilation of the conveyance.

He was devoted to anything that remotely resembled food. Even with his five square meals a day, he stood at the ready to cocoon morsels in his giant tongue and draw them into the nether regions of his cavernous mouth.

Sometimes, I wish that I were a dog. Maybe it would make my life a bit easier. You see, my devotion is there, just not all there at all times. I go back and forth between being close to Jesus and being close to me. The struggle to have a wholly devoted heart for my Savior is real.

What am I to do with a heart that wants to be all in, but struggles with constancy?

I turn to my Father (God) and I read verses like Psalm 119:33-38 (NKJV): “Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way. Establish Your word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You.”

God is there to offer strength in my weakness and focus in my fractures. Notice the terms of responsibility in this passage.

The inside work comes from the Lord. 


Remember these key points:

· He teaches the way.

· He gives understanding.

· He moves my heart.

· He revives me.

· He establishes His word. 

Please note: The outside work comes from me.
Remember these key points too:

· I move my hands and my feet to serve.

· I dedicate time to the Lord.

· I obey.

My physical work is simply an outpouring of my gratitude for His transformative work in my heart, and the food for this journey is a heaping helping of holy words found in God’s Word (The Holy Bible).

My Prayer:
Oh, Dearest, Most Holy Father (God), You have used the foolish antics of a dog to keep me from being wise in my own eyes. I praise You for Your loving kindness in every day lessons. I plead like the Psalmist in Psalm 119:33-38. Work on my inside so it proves my devotion to You on the outside.

~*~
Author Bio:
Kristy Horine is a Kentucky writer, freelance journalist by trade and creative by God’s grace.

She writes a little bit of everything including poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. Her professional and creative work has been published in newspapers, magazines and anthologies in Kentucky and beyond.

Kristy founded 3rd Letter Christian Writers in Lexington, Kentucky in 2015. Read more of her work at www.kristyhorine.com.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Thankful Thursdays: God is with me


It’s Thursday and I’m thankful for the fact that God is with me!

All of yesterday (Wednesday, May 29) was filled with worry, anxiety and depression for me. I woke up with a million things on my mind, rushed into my activities for that day and returned home even more upset.

There were moments when I calmed down after talking to a few God-fearing sister-in-Christ friends but as soon as our conversation was over, the anxiety picked up again. I was so overwhelmed about several serious, real-life situations that I could barely see the light of day or any hope in the severity of it all. These situations have been on my mind a lot lately but on May 29 the thoughts of these crowded every ray of sunshine out of the picture.

A few hours before midnight, a counselor encouraged me to “tap into (my) spirituality” because they know that helps me. So I did. For the first time that day/evening/night, I opened my “True Identity” Bible and searched for Scriptures that would speak to my situation.

After spending time in God’s Word (The Holy Bible) and talking to Him through prayer, I felt better. As I closed my Bible, I started singing these words, “Sovereign in the mountain air/Sovereign on the ocean floor/With me in the calm/With me in the storm.” 


When I realized that these were words to a song that I first heard years ago, I immediately went to YouTube and typed in the first few words. The song “Sovereign” by the Contemporary Christian music artist Chris Tomlin showed up first in the search results. 

I selected the lyric video version and listened to it while I read the lyrics only to find that every single lyric spoke directly into my situation! These song lyrics silenced my worries and reminded me that I can trust God no matter what because He knows everything I need and He will always provide for me.

As the song faded out, I realized that God just spoke to me through it. I know it was His message for me that night not only because of the lyrics, but because of the fact that I hadn’t heard that song in years and had forgotten the lyrics until that night (May 29). I know that it’s not a coincidence that these lyrics came to mind after I spent time studying God’s Word!

It’s also important to note that before I started reading The Bible that night, I asked God to speak to me through His Word and He did, not only through Scripture but through the lyrics of that song reminding me that He is Sovereign.

The dictionary defines the word “sovereign” as “possessing supreme or ultimate power” and the synonyms to this word that stood out to me are “boundless,” “unrestricted” and “unrestrained.”

This definition applied to God, shows us that not only does He have the ultimate power over the entire universe and everything in it, it shows that His power is unrestricted, meaning that nothing and no one can stop what He wants to do!

God’s plans for your life and my life cannot be stopped. No one and nothing (not even the evil forces) in this world or the entire universe can stop Him from blessing you! So when God seems silent, just keep trusting Him and knowing that He is working together everything for your good (Romans 8:28) because He loves you (John 3:16) and He has GOOD plans for your life (Jeremiah 29:11)!

Be encouraged, dear friends with this: No matter what happens in human history on this planet Earth, the Creator of the Universe (God) is with you. He will NEVER leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5) and His Son Jesus Christ (our Savior) says in John 16:33 that in this world we will have trouble but “take heart” because He (JESUS) has “overcome the world!”


Romans 8:31-39 (NIV) says that we are “more than conquerors” with Jesus Christ on our side! Let’s read the full passage:

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, either height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These Bible verses give me hope that no matter what happens in this life, God is with me. I hope that these verses give you that same hope.

Love,

Alexis A. Goring
Founder of “God is Love” blog

P.S._Here's the lyric video that I watched of the song "Sovereign" by Chris Tomlin:

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: On Worry


Worry is a Distraction
A devotional by Temeka Borden


“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” 
– Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

What are you worried about right now—a family member, your job, your health, making ends meet, an upcoming exam, other people’s opinions of you? 


Now, how many times have we worried about something and everything turned out just fine? Speaking for myself, I can say numerous times. 

I think many of us worry unnecessarily, perhaps more than we would like to admit. Thankfully, over the years, I have grown substantially in that area once I finally got it—once I finally realized that worry does absolutely nothing for me.

I have been saying the following for years: Worry is a distraction. Worry is a tool the enemy uses in an attempt to get your focus off of God. Worry is a tool the enemy uses in an attempt to make you forget that the Lord has all power and authority. Worry is a tool the enemy uses in an attempt to dampen your spirit and make you feel all hope is lost. Worry is a tool the enemy uses in an attempt to distract you from your spiritual mission. Simply put, worry is not of God.

The Scriptures remind us to not worry. The Scriptures remind us to not fret. The Scriptures remind us to place all of our trust in the Lord. The Scriptures remind us that if we “seek the Kingdom of God first and His righteousness” then He will take care of us. The Scriptures remind us of how powerful God’s wisdom is. Thus, we are to trust His wisdom, despite how things look. We are to trust His wisdom and be confident and comforted in the fact that He knows what He is doing, even when things don’t quite make sense to us.

I understand that because we are human, we will have our moments. However, we must remind ourselves of who dwells within us. God’s Spirit (the Holy Spirit) lives in us, and a fruit of the Spirit is peace (Read Galatians 5:22).

When worry tries to seep into your soul, remind yourself of what the Scriptures say about who God is and who you are because of Him. Remind yourself that God has everything under control. Remind yourself that nothing is too hard for our Lord. Remind yourself that all things are possible with God. Remind yourself that God is our Shepherd and that He provides for His sheep.

Just think of the Israelites and how God fed them with manna and quail as they journeyed through the wilderness. He met their needs, and when we continue to place the Lord first, He will meet all of our needs as well.

~*~
Author Bio:

Temeka Borden, better known by her pen name, Positivity Inspires, is an author, speaker, minister, and servant of the Lord. She was introduced to Christ at a very early age and was raised in the church. Her ministry focuses on encouraging Christians to love God first, to love all people, to continually strengthen their bond with Christ, and to study His Word, and live His Word daily.  



After recently experiencing what she describes as the "lowest point in her life," Positivity Inspires wrote the following about herself to serve as an encouragement and reminder of who she is in Christ:

"I am a child of God. He loves me unconditionally. Although I have my shortcomings, He has blessed me with a desire to do what is right. I have been blessed with many natural and spiritual gifts. I am an author. I am a speaker. I am a teacher. I am a runner. I am a drummer. I am a singer (when I’m in the mood), and I have a strong 'fashion sense.' I am loved. My family and friends are my heart, and I know they will support me no matter what. I am educated. I currently have two degrees (one of them a doctorate), and with God’s help, I will complete a third degree soon. I am a multi-state licensed medical professional who completed a specialty residency, which prepared me for the workforce (and made me a FORCE to be reckoned with). I am a leader. I have served in administrative roles and was successful in those positions because I made a difference (with God’s help). I am ambitious, and I know that with God, all things are possible. I know He is going to do great things through me."

Positivity Inspires loves God and she loves people. She strongly encourages others to show kindness, respect, and love to everyone. Positivity Inspires loves and welcomes diversity and flourishes in culturally diverse environments. She also is passionate about giving back to the community, and her favorite mantras are: "Speak Up!" and "Watch God Work!"

~*~
Connect with Temeka:
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/positivity_inspires/
Facebook - www.Facebook.com/positivityinspirespage
Twitter - https://twitter.com/PInspires/

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Interview with Melissa Tagg about her novel "Now and Then and Always"

Let's welcome my author friend Melissa Tagg to the blog and wish her a "Happy BOOK Birthday" because her NEW novel Now and Then and Always releases TODAY!

*Pause for cheers and congratulations!*

Isn't the cover of her new book gorgeous?


Today, you're in for a treat because we're going to learn so much about Melissa's new book via an author interview feature! 

Enjoy!

~*~
Interview with Melissa Tagg about NEW novel, 

Now and Then and Always (Maple Valley Book 1)

Alexis: What inspired you to write this book?

Melissa: I don’t know why, but when I first started thinking about this book (about three years ago, actually!) I was really intrigued at the thought of writing about a man who is incredibly broken, who has lost everything in his life. Which sounds incredibly melancholy, but really, it was so interesting for me to write because I kept thinking to myself, “What if I’d lost all that Marshall has lost? Would I fall apart, too? Would I lose my faith, too?” There’s even a spot where Marshall asks his sister if she could keep believing that God is good and that He loves her if she’d lost what he’s lost. And I was really asking myself that same question as I wrote it. Could I keep believing?

But on a lighter note, I also just had a huge hankering to return to Maple Valley! I’d sprinkled my previous Maple Valley stories with intriguing side characters and I just knew that one day they’d all need their own stories. Similarly, I first mentioned the Everwood B&B in my 2015 book, Like Never Before, and at the time I knew one day I’d circle back to it.

Alexis: Now and Then and Always is the first book in your Maple Valley series. What’s the focus of this new series? Briefly share story details.

Melissa: This new series is set in Maple Valley and it features a small group of tight-knit friends, most of whom are side characters from past books. Jenessa Bellville first appeared in Like Never Before (2015), Sam Ross first appeared in Keep Holding On (2016) and then again in All This Time (2017), and Lucas Danby first appeared in Keep Holding On.

Alexis: Let’s talk about the heroine of your story, Mara Bristol. What does she look and sound like? What is her greatest fear? What is her deepest dream? What or who makes her mad? What or who makes her happy? Explain.

Melissa:
I’m going to let you discover some of these things through reading the book…for instance, I don’t want to tell you what her greatest fear is because that’s a big part of her story unfolding on the page. But I can tell you that she has something—or rather, someone—in her past that she fears. She’s also carrying around quite a bit of hurt and loneliness. She’s hungry to belong somewhere, to have a family even if it doesn’t look like a normal family. What makes her happy: cereal, the Everwood B&B…and Marshall.

Alexis: Everwood Bed & Breakfast at the edge of Maple Valley, Iowa sounds dreamy! Please describe the B&B and paint a picture of Maple Valley with your creative words.

Melissa: The Everwood B&B was first introduced in Like Never Before. It’s a sprawling and weathered Victorian house. But it’s also full of charm and personality. We’re going to see it come to life throughout this story...and discover its secrets. Maple Valley is a quirky small town, divided in half by a river that runs straight through the middle of town. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone…which can be hard for strangers to get used to, but more often than not, they end up falling in love with the place and the people who live there.

Alexis: Who is Lenora and what role does she play in this story?

Melissa: Lenora is the owner of the B&B. She took Mara under her wing months ago and invited her to stay and help run the place. You’ll discover she’s been gone for about five weeks at the beginning of the story. To learn more about where she is, you’ll have to read the book.

Alexis:
Let’s talk about the hero of your story, Marshall Hawkins. What does he look and sound like? What is his worst weakness? What is his greatest strength? What or who brings him joy? What or who hurts his heart?

Melissa: Again, I’m not going to answer every question here because some of it, well, I want you to discover by reading the book! But some things you’ll find out right away about Marshall—he’s full of pain and he’s not handling it well. He’s lost his daughter, his marriage has ended, and he’s forced to take a personal leave at work. He’s in a dark, dark season…and yet, even in the early chapters, we’ll see little moments of light shining through. I adore the guy!

Alexis: Why does Marshall feel like his life is falling apart?

Melissa: As I noted above, he’s just lost so much—his daughter, his marriage, and his job, although that last one is only temporary. He’s lost his faith, too, and he hasn’t handled his pain well. He’s basically been living in a fog for about two years.

Alexis: What brings Marshall to Everwood and what compels him to stay at the B&B for more than one night?

Melissa: Marshall winds up at the Everwood on a stormy night. He pulls over in a storm while dealing with a migraine…he goes inside to escape the storm and also to make sure the people inside are safe. As for why he stays…you’ll have to read the book to find out.

Alexis: What do Mara and Marshall like – and dislike – about each other? Why?

Melissa: Mara loves Marshall’s dependability, his strength (which he can’t even see in himself), especially his kindness. Marshall senses a mystery in Mara and being the detective he is, he loves that. He also sees her desire to belong and to save the Everwood and he greatly admires that. They do have different ways of handling pain and making decisions and that causes them to clash sometimes.

Alexis: What role do faith, hope and love play in this story?

Melissa: You’ll see both Mara and Marshall deal with faith in different ways—for Mara, her faith is really only a surface thing at the beginning of the story. For Marshall, he was once a man of deep convictions and belief but he lost that right alongside everything else two years ago. Marshall, especially, doesn’t really understand how to hope anymore…but he starts to get glimpses of what his life could be throughout this story. And love…well, this is a romance. So it plays a big role.

Alexis: What’s your favorite scene in this story and how fun was it for you as the author to create it?

Melissa: Truly, my very favorite scene is the prologue where Marshall first arrives at the Everwood and realizes it looks exactly like a picture he’s been carrying around in his pocket for two years. I wrote that scene way back in early 2018 after a long period of not writing. And then in the rest of 2018, I didn’t write much at all due to my big move and house renovation. But I kept coming back to those prologue paragraphs and rereading them and telling myself that someday I’d find time to write this story. I feel like those opening paragraphs kept giving me hope for the rest of the story.

A couple other favorite scenes include Mara and Marshall’s meet-cute and the final scene in the last chapter…and the epilogue, too, because it sets up future books.

Alexis: If you could take a trip with Mara and Marshall, where would you go? Why?

Melissa: Maple Valley! But since Maple Valley doesn’t exist, I think the three of us would have a blast traveling to the Smokey Mountains.

Alexis: Now for the quick questions! Answer in italics.

What’s your favorite color? 

Blue or green

Who are your favorite authors? 
Lori Benton, Joanne Bischof, and most recently, Amanda Dykes

What’s one book that you simply cannot live without? 
The Lady & The Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

What is your favorite season? 
Autumn

Where is your favorite vacation spot? 
Anywhere my family is! But also, I love the Carolinas.

How do you take your coffee? 
Black!

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

Melissa: Thanks for having me! Can’t wait to get this book into readers’ hands. It’s a huge piece of my heart on the page, so it means the world to me when readers take the time to dive into one of my stories.

~*~
Author Bio:

Melissa Tagg is the award-winning author of the popular Walker Family series, the Where Love Begins series and the Enchanted Christmas Collection. She's a former reporter, current nonprofit grant writer and total Iowa girl. 


Melissa's recent releases include a 2018 ACFW Carol Award Winner (One Enchanted Noel), an RT Book Reviews TOP PICK (All This Time) and a Publishers Weekly Spring Top Ten Pick (Like Never Before).

Melissa has taught at multiple national writing conferences, as well as workshops and women's retreats. When she's not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever--not that she's biased--watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. Melissa loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com and on Facebook and Instagram.

~*~
Book Blurb for Now and Then and Always:

“It was just a house. Just a weathered old house in a hidden grove, shuttered and still.”

Last year, after traumatic circumstances forced her from her job as a nanny, Mara Bristol finally found a place to belong—the winsome Everwood Bed & Breakfast at the edge of Maple Valley, Iowa. For months, she’s helped its owner, Lenora, maintain the ramshackle property despite their shortage of guests. But when Lenora fails to return from a month-long trip and the bank threatens foreclosure, Mara worries she’s once again alone . . . abandoned . . . about to lose the only true home she’s ever known.

Detective Marshall Hawkins is no closer to whole today than he was two years ago . . . the day his daughter died. Between his divorce, debilitating migraines, and a dependence on medication, his life is falling apart. And when a reckless decision on the job propels him into administrative leave, he has no other plan but to get in his truck and drive. A one-night stay at the Everwood was supposed to be just that. But there’s something about the old house—or maybe its intriguing caretaker—that pulls him in.

Together, Mara and Marshall set out to save the Everwood. But its secrets run deeper than they could’ve imagined. As they renovate the house and search for its missing owner, they’ll each confront the pain that brought them to the Everwood in the first place . . . and just maybe discover a faith and love to help them carry on.

~*~
Buy Melissa’s book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

~*~
Connect with Melissa:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMelissaTagg/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/melissatagg/
Website – http://www.melissatagg.com
Twitter 
– https://twitter.com/Melissa_Tagg

Monday, May 27, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Dependence


Declaration of Dependence
A devotional by Glynis Becker


“From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint;

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For You have been a refuge for me,

A tower of strength against the enemy.

Let me dwell in Your tent forever;

Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.”

— Psalm 61:2-4 (NASB)

Do you remember being a child, wishing you could grow up so you wouldn’t have people telling you what to do? 

Of course, as adults, we realize that although we have more freedom than we did as children, we are not as free as we probably dreamed we would be. We tell ourselves we can do just about anything if it doesn’t hurt someone else. We stake our claim as independent creatures. But even as we say it I don’t think any of us really believe that’s completely true, do we?

We are dependent on all kinds of things: our health, our skill level, our intelligence, where we live, our finances, our families, our employers, the weather. Many of those things we have no control over. We aren’t really independent at all.

As Christians we should be even less independent, or at the very least, less dependent on ourselves and our own strength. Dependence on God is where we need to start.

When I hear the word ‘declaration,’ being an American, I immediately go to the phrase “Declaration of Independence.” That was a collective stand taken by a nation to say what they believed, what they wanted, and what they were willing to risk to gain it.

In Psalm 61, and so many of the other Psalms that David wrote, we see him declaring what we believes to be true of God as well as what is his own place in dependence on Him. He declares that God is “the rock that is higher than I am” and that He is a “refuge” and a “tower of strength.” Reminding himself of those things when life was good gave him a sure foundation in the days of difficulty, fear, and adversity.

Next David asks God for what he wants: “Let me live in your tent forever.” He knows he is dependent on God for his life, his well-being, and all of his blessings. He wants to be near God, sheltered by His strong arm and His boundless love.

I do not attend a liturgical church and this is not meant as a critique of contemporary versus traditional kinds of worship, but I firmly believe that there is something powerful about a congregation standing together to recite a creed or an affirmation that has been repeated by countless generations over thousands of years. The best of those creeds guide us to state what we believe about God, Who He is, and who we are in relation to Him.

I’d like to make it a practice to occasionally, if not every day, state what I believe about God, what I expect of Him and of myself in relation to how I love Him and the people around me.

I’m ready to make my own Declaration of Dependence. Is anybody with me?

My Prayer: Dear Father (God), make me aware of You today, in this moment, and remind me that You are everything I need. Remind me that any strength or skill I have is a blessing from You and that relying on You is the only way I will find freedom and peace. In Your Son’s precious name I pray, Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Glynis Becker writes devotions and inspirational fiction, hoping someday to have a published novel on her resume. 

She has co-written several screenplays, including the film Sinking Sand, available on DVD and digital streaming.

Glynis, whose childhood was spent all over the country as an Air Force brat, has called South Dakota home for many years, along with her husband and two teenage children.

When she’s not writing or reading, she is watching more television than she should and crocheting. You can find her at www.glynisbecker.com.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: A story about a mother's prayer and a miracle!


A Mother’s Prayer

A devotional by Heather Martin

“And this is the confidence we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” –1 John 5:14 (NIV)

“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.”
 –Psalm 34:7 (NIV)

Seems like I have heard this story my entire life, on several occasions, but somehow, I never get tired of hearing her tell it, so I’ll share it with you.

It was 1960. She was 18 years old and newly married. She didn’t belong to any church and wasn’t super religious, but she knew how to pray.

She gave birth to her first child, a son, and she fell in love with this chubby little boy instantly. With a fat face, red cheeks, and sandy hair, he was perfect!

At around six months old, she noticed he wasn’t feeling very well. He had a fever. After doing all she could to help him get better, she decided it was best to take him to the hospital.

When she arrived at the hospital, they ran tests and decided to rush him to an isolation unit because he was contagious with something called spinal meningitis. Spinal meningitis is an infection of the fluid and membranes around the brain and spinal cord. Once infection starts it can spread rapidly throughout the body. If untreated, it can cause brain damage in a matter of hours and can be fatal within 24 hours.

Although she didn’t understand it all fully and had never heard of this disease, she felt in her heart that he would get better. However, as the weeks in the hospital passed, she began to lose hope. Would he ever get well? She was exhausted, barely sleeping, and never wanting to leave her baby at the hospital alone.

One day a nurse convinced her that everything would be okay and to just go home to take a shower. So she did, and no sooner than she stepped out of the tub, the phone was ringing. It was the doctor on the other line telling her that if she wanted to say goodbye to her baby, she’d better hurry back to the hospital.

Her in-laws drove her to the hospital, and when they arrived the doctors began to ask if there was a family plot and where her baby would be buried. He was hardly breathing, couldn’t move, couldn’t cry, so sick and he seemed as if he was about to take his last breath.

They removed all the IVs and his little body looked so limp and lifeless. They rolled his bed out into the hallway and she followed, leaving the doctors and her in-laws in the room to talk about the funeral.

While in the hallway, the only prayer she remember saying was “Lord don’t let my baby die.” Before she finished this prayer, she says it was like something out of the movies, a cloud of white smoke appeared and the hospital hallway doors swung open. A man she’d never seen came through doors and touched her baby then disappeared.

Her baby began to cry and scream and look up at her! He was full of life in seconds! The doctors came running out of the room to see what had happened. She was in a daze because she herself was stunned at what just happened. God had sent an angel to touch her baby and heal him.

The doctors were in disbelief, so they ran tests and told her that she could probably expect him to be mentally delayed and not live a productive life. Well, 59 years later, and my Mother still reminds my only brother George to live the right life because when she prayed, God saved him by the touch of an angel.

Maybe you’ve been praying for something to happen and given up hope today. Maybe you’ve never prayed or not sure if you believe in prayer. Maybe you pray, but you don’t really believe that anything will happen.

Whatever the circumstance, I hope this story inspires you to pray and watch God give you a testimony to tell for years to come.

~*~
Author Bio:
Heather Martin was born the last of six siblings in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was raised by an amazing single mother (Rebecca Trotter) and was taught at an early age to love God and how to sing! 

She graduated from Oakwood University with a Bachelors Degree in Language Arts Education and later received a Master’s Degree in Education from Kaplan University.

Shortly after graduating she followed God’s call to minister. She joined the Stellar, Dove, and Grammy-nominated gospel group Virtue, which was founded by her two older sisters Ebony Holland and Karima Kibble several years prior. Virtue has used their talents to spread the love of God across the world! They have recorded 7 studio albums and have been the recipients of numerous awards.

God has not only blessed Heather professionally, but personally. She met her husband, Dr. Colin Martin, and they have been married for 14 years. They have four children: Colin Jr. 11, Harper 10, Clark, 7, and Charleston 5. In 2016 Heather started an online blog and vegan and allergen-friendly cooking channel called “Chef Mommy.” Heather (Chef Mommy) has cooked with numerous celebrities and top chefs to spread the news of healthy cooking and lifestyle.

In addition to this busy schedule, Heather enjoys, running, reading, writing and spending time with her family.

~*~
Connect with Heather:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherTMartin
Instagram for Heather: https://www.instagram.com/thechefmommy/
Instagram for Virtue (Heather’s singing group): https://www.instagram.com/virtuegirls
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/chefmommyhm

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Thankful Thursdays: My Birthday!


It’s Thursday and I’m thankful that today (May 23) is my birthday!

I am grateful that God allowed me to see another year of life.

Life is filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, joys and tragedies but one thing remains: God is Good and His Love for us remains forever true and unconditional throughout eternity!

Looking back over my life thus far, I wouldn’t change anything because all of these moments – good and bad – led me to the life I have today. Nothing is always perfect here on Earth but there’s so much to be thankful for and I praise God for ALL He’s done and continues to do for me and all of the wonderful people that He’s placed in my life.

Earlier this week, my Mom celebrated my birthday with me by treating me to a peppermint pedicure and manicure at our favorite day spa then she paid for an early dinner at one of our favorite restaurants where she tipped the waiters that it was my birthday celebration, so they sung the “Happy Birthday” song to me. Yesterday, my Dad treated me to a brunch at a local old-fashioned diner. I enjoyed my favorite breakfast meal there – Banana Stuffed French Toast and scrambled eggs. The diner does the whole “farm to table” approach to dining so the food there always tastes so fresh and delicious.

Earlier today, I received a birthday card from my brother and sister-in-law with really sweet wording and a gift certificate to my favorite day spa.

All throughout this day, my family and friends who are on Facebook have posted all sorts of sweet and fun "Happy Birthday" notes on my wall. Loved ones have sent text messages to my personal phone to wish me a “Happy Birthday” too! It’s been a full day filled with showers of blessings from God and the people who care about me.

I truly feel blessed to have the people who are in my life as part of my story.

I hope and pray that you will spend time thinking about what you’re thankful for then share in the comments below.

May the good Lord our God bless you and keep you!

Love,

Alexis A. Goring
Founder of “God is Love” blog

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: How to tell the gospel story of Jesus Christ


Tell the Story

A devotional by Carrie Del Pizzo


“As for us, we can’t stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
~Acts 4:20 (CEB)

The Apostles amaze me. In Acts chapter 4, Peter and John were telling folks about Jesus when they were picked up by the temple guard. The high priest and the Pharisees thought they had solved that Jesus problem when they had him killed, but He was like a bad penny. He always turned up.

So they started arresting people who followed Him. Peter and John were brought before the temple leaders and told very clearly to stop it. Stop telling people about Jesus.

Peter and John’s response is just as clear. Can’t do it. Actually, in the previous verse, they tell the Pharisees, “We’ll let you figure out if we should obey God or you.” Ouch. And then they continue on to say that they can’t stop speaking.

Sometimes I read this and wonder what I’m supposed to do. Should I tell my neighbor about Jesus? What about the cashier at the grocery store? Am I supposed to stop all those cars driving by?

Yes, we should be sharing Jesus with those around us, but I don’t think we need to endanger ourselves. (Especially since the road by my house is a highway.) But I did see someone who “can’t stop speaking” and I think he makes a pretty good modern-day example.

My family recently watched The Greatest Showman (movie) about the life of P.T. Barnum. If you like music, even a little bit, this is a very entertaining movie. I also came across an interview with Hugh Jackman, the star of the film, and Michael Gracey, the director. They tell the story of trying to get the green light to make the movie.

After eight months of work, they got all the studios executives, money people, and decision makers in one room so they could read and sing through the entire script. But the day before, Mr. Jackman had a spot of skin cancer removed from his nose. Because of his eighty stitches, the doctor said, “No singing.”

So, he had to let someone else do his singing for him. He read his lines, acted and gestured, but no singing. Until the song “From Now On.” It was the big number near the end. Like every good story, the main character, P.T. Barnum, stumbled and struggled. But in this scene, he learns from his mistakes and decides to make a change.

The song is very encouraging and moving. So moving, in fact, that Mr. Jackman can’t stop singing. Oh, he tried. Hands on hips, lips pursed, he shakes his head as though telling himself not to do it. But he just can’t hold it in. When he finally opens his mouth, he sings with unbridled passion, the rest of the cast cheers him on, and the room fires up with energy.

Yes, Hugh Jackman is a professional who is well paid for his moving performances. But in that critical workshop, when the entire movie was on the line, this man believed so much in the story they were telling that he could not stop himself from laying it all out there.

At the end of the clip, Mr. Jackman discovers blood trickling down his nose, and the next day he was back in his doctor’s office to get the popped stitches repaired. But from the smile on his face, I’m guessing he didn’t regret his decision for a minute.

And that’s how we need to be about Jesus. We don’t need to stop traffic or strike up conversation with total strangers. But when you’re with someone who is searching for the truth and wondering who this Jesus is, don’t even try to stop yourself from sharing His amazing story.

~*~
Author Bio:

In this world of texts, memes, and emojis, slowing down to truly communicate can feel like straining a muscle you haven’t exercised in far too long.

Seventeen years of business experience across a variety of industries has taught Carrie Del Pizzo the fine art of professional communications. Partnering with corporate executives and entry-level employees alike, she has written and edited major project proposals, direct marketing pieces, sensitive client communications, employee handbooks, and user manuals.

Carrie’s love of literature and story has led her to develop and exercise her fiction writing skills as well. Aside from her personal creative efforts, she also edits for self- and traditionally-published authors and enjoys writing short dramas for church presentation.

Carrie is a wife, mom of three Americans and host-mom to numerous exchange students. Italian-by-marriage means she loves to cook and eat. She lives in Spokane, WA, with her hilarious family, who keeps her in stitches and provides piles of material for great stories.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Author Interview with Candee Fick and a NEW book giveaway contest!


Today, you're in for a special treat! Candee Fick has written a new novel and she's giving away one e-book copy for the Kindle of the book giveaway contest winner!

But first, she's here to talk about her new novel, Sing a New Song.

Enjoy her author interview and remember to enter the contest via the Rafflecopter widget that you'll find toward the end of this blog post.

God bless you!

~*~
Interview with Candee Fick about her book, Sing a New Song:

Alexis: Why did you write this book? What was your inspiration for this story?

Candee: I started planning this book while writing the first in the series, Dance Over Me. In the first draft of that story, I had created a very unlikeable antagonist but she came across like a cardboard, two-dimensional prop. During the revision stage, I worked to give her a few positive traits as well as a solid motivation for why she acted the way she did. In other words, I asked myself what it would take for her to change, planned a rough outline of this current book, and then circled back to weave hints into the first two books of the series to set up her personal journey. Overall, the series drew inspiration from Zephaniah 3:17 and I knew that once Gloria also discovered the amazing depths of God’s love, her life would never be the same.

Alexis:
Why is Gloria Houghton, your story’s heroine, known as a “pampered diva” and what kind of man would be her match?

Candee: Gloria is a talented actress who is used to occupying center stage as the star and therefore, she’s accustomed to the star treatment. The accolades. The attention. They boost to her self-esteem as a result of the applause and positive press.

On a personal note, she’s also the only daughter of a very rich businessman and—as we quickly learn in Sing a New Song—has been living off her allowance from a trust fund and therefore hasn’t had to work to support her lifestyle. A fancy car, sparkling jewelry, and the latest fashions are all a part of her world. Therefore, on the surface, she’s always looked for a man to spoil her, lavish her with attention, and keep her on that pedestal. But what she wants isn’t exactly what she needs. She needs someone to look beneath the façade and love her for who she truly is.

Alexis: Has Gloria always had a passion for singing? What does she love about it?

Candee: Gloria’s passion was the stage and whichever skills got her the most attention were the ones she cultivated. Musical theater productions allowed her to showcase both her voice and dancing skills with acting to tie it all together. But after injuring her knee and losing the spotlight, she finally focuses on the one thing she does the best. Sing. She’d probably tell you that what she loves most about singing is that the soaring notes and powerful lyrics cause an audience to feel a broad range of emotions and therefore, they remember the one who sang them.

Alexis: Let’s talk about the hero of your story, Nick Sherwood. What does he look like? How does he talk (tone, pace, with or without an accent)? What are his greatest strengths and worst weaknesses?

Candee: Nick is the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome with a beard and a slight Southern accent. Ha. Except when he first steps onto the page, he’s wearing coveralls and a tool belt, has greasy hands, and is mopping the floor. Not exactly the best first impression. But readers (and Gloria) will soon discover his ability to shoulder lots of responsibility, his servant nature, and his faithfulness to God, his family, and his friends. As for weaknesses, he holds people to a high standard (which can come across as judgmental), wars with jealousy when compared to others in his family, and hides his greatest talents.

Alexis: What is it about Nick that makes him a Jack-of-all-trades? What is his passion career-wise? Does he desire a singular career? Why or why not?

Candee: Nick’s current job title over Human Resources puts him in charge of the personnel at the Sherwood Hotel and Sherwood Theater. However, he’s such a servant that he often pitches in wherever help is needed. Whether it’s fixing the stage lights, moving set pieces for shows, mopping floors, repairing toilets, cleaning hotel rooms, or fixing car engines for family members, Nick knows how to do it all. Plus he enjoys the variety of work that keeps his job interesting. However, he’s also finishing up an online business degree so he’ll have more skills with which to support his family’s businesses. Does he want to do something else? Not that he’d admit.

Alexis: Why does Nick avoid the spotlight and despise fame?

Candee:
Let’s just say that Nick is part of a large family that includes the headline musical act at the theater. He’s spent hours around those singers and has seen what fame can do to a person’s heart, especially when one ends up on the losing side of the comparison game. So, rather than open himself up to rejection and bitterness, he’s chosen to simply stay in the background.

Alexis: What is it about Gloria that fascinates—and irritates—him to no end?

Candee: He pegs her as a pampered Princess on the first day and expects her to act a certain way. But when she doesn’t always act according to his preconceived notions, he can’t help but take a closer look. Sometimes she’s inept. Other times she shows true grit. Who is the real woman? And yet, he’s been around the stage long enough to know how performers can get consumed with their image to exclusion of others. If he gets too close, his heart will get broken when she moves on to another stage and yet he can’t help but get drawn in. And that’s irritating!

Alexis: Is there a special meaning for your book’s title “Sing a New Song?” If so, what can you tell us about it without giving away the story?

Candee: There’s a familiar cliché about someone who “changed their tune” and it is used as a way to describe a person who used to be one way and then changed. Since Gloria is a singer and she certainly needs an attitude adjustment (per everyone who has read the first two books in the series), I felt this title fit her story of transformation perfectly. Not to mention, there’s a verse in Psalm 96 that says to “Sing to the Lord a new song.” Gloria has been singing her own praises for years, but once her heart begins to change, she might finally be able to sing a new song to God too.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about your book?

Candee: I want readers to remember (and embrace) the unfailing love of God the Father. The Audience of One who puts a new song in our hearts. The One who rejoices over us with singing. The One who is always there even when people aren’t.

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

Candee: I’ve mentioned that Sing a New Song is part of a series. While each title can be read as a standalone book, I’d encourage readers to also pick up Dance Over Me and Focus On Love (with the follow-up novella A Picture Perfect Christmas) to unpack similar lessons about God’s love as found in Zephaniah 3:17. Oh, and I’m currently working on another Christmas novella that will feature one of the singing Sherwoods.

~*~
Author Bio:

Candee Fick is a multipublished, award-winning author. 

She is also the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome.

When not busy writing, editing, or coaching other authors, she can be found cheering on the home team at sporting events, exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.

~*~
Book Blurb for Sing a New Song:

The pampered diva is about to meet her match.

Songbird Gloria Houghton has always needed to be the center of attention, but the spotlight has shifted. Seeking fame and a fresh start, she finds a new stage in Branson, Missouri…only to risk being replaced by a manipulative rival. If Gloria can’t be the star, who is she?

Jack-of-all-trades Nick Sherwood is just one leaf on a vast family tree that includes a restaurant chef, hotel owners, and even the headline act at a family-owned theater. He’s seen how fame can blind a person with jealousy and is more than content to stay in the background thank you very much. If only he wasn’t so fascinated--and irritated--by the newest addition to the staff.

After a disaster of a first impression and financial difficulties land Gloria in the humblest of jobs—with Nick as her boss—it might be time for her to learn to sing a new song.

If you like strong families, country music, and redeemed villains, then you’ll love this next chapter in The Wardrobe series by Candee Fick.

~*~
Buy Candee’s book on Amazon and learn more about the complete Wardrobe Dinner Theater series here.

~*~
Connect with Candee:
Website: https://candeefick.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author.Candee.Fick
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CandeeFick
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/candee-fick
Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/Candee-Fick/e/B0056B94VE/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/702901.Candee_Fick
Email list sign up: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/a5p3s2

~*~
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:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 20, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: A Symbol of Jesus Christ's Promise to Return


The Folded Napkin

A devotional by Nanci Rubin

“And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.” – John 20:7 (KJV)

A few weeks ago, the Christian Church formally and personally celebrated Easter. The resurrection of our Lord is a time of joy, re-birth and appreciation. Within theology and Christology, there is definitely a place for the historical Jesus and the cultural context within which he lived, alongside the divine person of Christ Jesus who gifts us with salvation and eternal life and lives within us through His Spirit.

Many years ago, my pastor at the time preached a sermon on the folded napkin, it so impressed me, that I never forgot. We have to consider that Jesus was a reflection in many ways of the culture within which he was born and lived.

Why did Jesus fold the linen burial cloth after his resurrection? The gospel of John 20:7 tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the other grave clothes. The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed at the head of that stony coffin.

Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. I can only imagine her fright and shock as she ran to find Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have laid him!” 
– John 20:2 (KJV) 

Peter and the other disciple took off running to the tomb so they could see for themselves. The other disciple being faster outran Peter and got there first. Cautiously he stooped and peered in. He saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in.

Then Simon Peter arrived, breathless and without hesitation, went inside the tomb. He was stunned to see the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying to the side.

Was that important? Absolutely! Is it really significant? Yes!

In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, we need to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the master and servant and every Jewish boy knew this tradition. When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure it was exactly the way the master wanted it. The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating.

The servant would dare not touch the table until the master was finished. Now if the master was finished eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers and mouth, clean his beard, and wad up the napkin and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, “I’m finished.”

But if the master got up from the table, folded his napkin and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because the folded napkin meant, “I’m coming back!”

Let us not only remember Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, but the fact that he did leave a folded napkin to symbolize that He is not finished and He is coming back for His faithful servants within His Church.

And Jesus commissioned His disciples after His resurrection and said to them, “I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” –Matthew 28:20 (KJV)

I am mindful when I eat out about the napkin. If I’ve enjoyed the meal and the service has been excellent, I always fold the napkin and place it by my plate. The establishment may not understand the significance of the folded napkin, but it is my way of saying, “I’m coming back.”

We not only have a hope, but a promise, because Jesus said He’s coming back.

My Prayer: Father (God), thank you for the sacrifice of your Son, Jesus, for all of humanity. Teach us, O Lord, to be kind and to love as Jesus taught. We will be your hands and feet on the earth and share the Good News of Jesus and the promise of the folded napkin. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:
Nanci is a poet and short story writer published in Cypress News, Family Times E-Zine, Free Verse and the Commonwealth of Poetry

She belongs to RWA, ACFW, and Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild where she’s enrolled in his novel writing program.

Nanci lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and cats, Romeo and Juliette, along with their newest member of the family, Roni who is a seven-month-old Goldendoodle.

Recently, Nanci completed her debut novel, A Betrayal in Cross Keys. It is an Amish romance and has placed it in her agent's capable hands. The rest is up to God.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: New Faith


In The Beginning
A devotional by Victoria Bylin


“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” –1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

May is a big month for my family. We celebrate Mother’s Day, three family birthdays, plus my husband and I mark our wedding anniversary. That day always takes me back to the beginning of our faith walk, especially to a particular night at my parents’ front door.

Mike and I weren’t Christians when we started going out, though people were praying for us. We were just friends, and my then-boyfriend was out of the country. Mike, figuring I was bored, graciously (ha-ha!) asked if I wanted to see the new Star Trek movie. I said, “Sure. Why Not?”

Before we knew it, we were enjoying each other’s company far more than we expected. We went to more movies, grabbed a few dinners, and then that night happened. Mike knocked on my parents’ front door and said, “Vicki, I have to tell you something.”

“I have to tell you something too.” 


In unison we said, “I’ve been reading the Bible.”

Mike would tell you he experienced utter joy the moment he accepted Christ. The sun literally burst through gray clouds. Me? Not so much. Becoming a Christian wasn’t all sweetness and light. In fact, it was a tough, bitter decision, because I knew my life would change. But my parents were praying for me, and I finally cracked. “Okay, God,” I said in the dark. “If you’re real, I want to know You.”

In the Bible, the Greek word “dunamis” means power, strength, or ability. It’s used about 120 times in the New Testament and is the root for our word “dynamite.” With that prayer to know if God was real, I lit the fuse and—just like I thought—everything in my life changed, or more accurately, it exploded.

The decision to pray that first prayer took me down a road every bit as intellectually challenging as my time at UC Berkeley. The Bible came alive for me in a personal way, but faith needs to be grounded on more than emotion. One more question demanded an answer: Did Jesus Christ really rise from the dead?

The pastor of our church at the time approached the question as a skeptic determined to disprove the resurrection. During a series on Easter, he went down the list of possible explanations. Not one of them held up under logical scrutiny. The last theory—that the disciples stole Christ’s body to protect their lies—didn’t work any better than the others. The apostles all martyred, except John who was exiled, and they died horrible deaths. Who would do that for a lie, especially a lie that wouldn't pay off?

The argument that the resurrection didn't happen, because it couldn't happen, is circular reasoning. If we take a step back and ask, "What if it’s true?” all sorts of possibilities open up—but we're not done yet. I'm not advocating blind acceptance. We need historical verification and archaeological evidence—and it's there. How many times have you heard a news story about a fresh discovery that confirms Biblical history? The more we dig in the ground, the more truth we unearth.

Many years have passed since that night at my parents’ front door. Mike and I have lived in three states, owned or rented nine homes, and raised a family that’s grown into the next generation. We’ve had careers that have astounded us, survived heartache, and rejoiced at the small pleasure of birds nesting in our backyard.

We’ve lived through a lot of change, but one thing is certain: Our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is on solid ground.

~*~
Author Bio:
Victoria Bylin is the author of 18 traditionally published romances. Known for tackling difficult subjects with great compassion, she delights in stories that shine the spotlight of God’s love on ordinary men and women facing realistic challenges.

Writing has always been a part of Victoria’s life. As a child, she wrote hundreds of letters and scribbled in journals. As an adult, she worked as a freelance journalist and editor before taking on the challenge of fiction.

She had one goal when she started her first novel: to finish a book-length manuscript, good or bad. That first effort will never see the light of day, but it led to a second manuscript and a sale to Harlequin Historical. Since then, she has written westerns and contemporary romances for both mainstream and Christian publishers, with Together With You winning the 2016 Inspirational Readers Choice Award for Best Contemporary.

Writing is a joy and a challenge for Victoria, but faith, friends and family matter to her far more. She’s a wife, mom, proud grandmother, and a dog-mom to a wacky Jack Russell Terrier. Originally from California, she and her husband currently make their home in Lexington, Kentucky. 

When she’s not writing, Victoria enjoys long walks, travel, and dark chocolate.

~*~
Connect with Victoria:
Website: https://www.victoriabylin.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Victoria.Bylin.Author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VictoriaBylin
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/victoria-bylin
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/568102.Victoria_Bylin

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Thankful Thursdays: My thoughts on the power of prayer

It's Thursday and I'm thankful for the power of prayer!

Earlier today, I prayed for a woman in the parking lot of the grocery store. She asked me for money and shared her story of hardship. I told her that I didn't have money to give but I could pray for her. So then and there, I placed a hand on her shoulder, we both bowed our heads and I prayed. I asked God to send her people who could help her and to help her and her family through this tough time.

Hours later, I've already forgotten her name but I know that God knows her name and He heard my prayers for her and He'll answer those prayers according to His will because God loves ALL of His children so I am certain He will send help.

This Thursday, I'm doing something different with my routine "Thankful Thursdays" post. I'm going to share a video of a sermon by Dr. Tony Evans. The sermon is titled, "Prayer That Works." After you watch his message, I ask that you please pray for him and his wife Lois. She is battling a rare form of cancer. You can learn more about her situation by reading this article (click here).

I believe in the power of prayer and I believe that God always answers every prayer that we pray to Him. God's Word (The Holy Bible) advises us in Hebrews 4:16 (KJV), "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

Read more Bible verses about the power of prayer by clicking here.

As promised, you can watch the sermon by Dr. Tony Evans by pressing the play button on the video below. 


Be encouraged, friends! God loves you!

Love,

Alexis A. Goring
Founder of "God is Love" blog

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: A word for those who are struggling in their faith


Lost and Wandering

A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” 
– James 5:19-20 (NIV)

“Don’t you know by now why the chosen are few? It’s harder to believe than not to.” This line from a Steve Taylor song resonated heavily with me when in college I began to question everything. I was trying to discover who I wanted to be and what I wanted out of life.

What I thought would be a philosophical exercise ended up a multi-year fight for my soul. Not everyone who enters adulthood asks deep questions that end up unraveling them, but all children of believers do face a similar challenge, taking the faith of their parents and culture and turning it into a real, saving faith of their own. It’s in that struggle that many end up lost.

Suffering is another test that separates churchgoers from believers with a saving faith. There are folks who show up every Sunday, go to all the meetings, sing all the hymns, do all the right things, but their hearts are still untouched. Then a loss, a sickness, a hit of some kind blows their life up. If they never truly repented and put their faith and trust in Jesus, then their faith can’t sustain them and they lose their way. They think God has abandoned them when they never really let Him in to begin with.

It’s not always a dramatic event either. Sometimes it is years of doubts that have been left to ruminate. It becomes easier to think of church as a building where you go if you’re a good person and not, instead, a group of people united by faith that should feed your soul or hold you accountable. People let church become a social club, a place to belong to, and over time, it becomes less important, less vital until it’s virtually meaningless.

It’s up to us to spot folks in our midst who are struggling or those who seem to be wandering. In our church families, we need to hold each other accountable, to check in with each other. We need to be real with those around us and not content to assume that just because someone is in a pew on Sunday morning that what they truly believe constitutes a saving faith. And for those that we can see wandering, we must be brave and seek them out. Have those tough conversations because it’s life and death. 


Grace truly does cover a multitude of sins and no one is beyond the mercy of God, but we’ve got to tell them that. People can hear a sermon in church every weekend and still not understand the Gospel.

God has placed us on earth to reach out to the lost and wandering and share with them the life-changing, earth-shattering truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Be bold, friends.

~*~
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 www.christamacdonald.com.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Read with Audra: Blog tour stop for "She Dreams" by Tiffany Bluhm


Welcome to my blog's stop on the "She Dreams: Live the Life You Were Created for" book tour coordinated by Audra Jennings PR!

Today, we're featuring my review of this book by Tiffany Bluhm and other fun features related to her book like a special giveaway contest!

Enjoy!

~*~
My Review: 


This book, She Dreams: Live the Life You Were Created for, is a true gem! I read the entire book in one sitting and found so many shiny treasures within, from the author’s voice to the life lessons imparted and the beautiful inspiration of the content that shines forth on every page.

Tiffany Bluhm, the author, has a unique storytelling voice that really shines through in this book. The first example shone within the first few pages when the author said, “So if you are a painter, bust out the brushes. If you are a writer, sharpen that pencil or get out that computer. If you are a runner, grab those nifty running shoes. If you are a singer, then saaang, girrrl.” (She Dreams, page 8).

I love that the book editor didn’t require that the author spell the word “saaang” correctly as “sang” and didn’t require that she change “girrrl” to “girl” because it stayed true to the author’s unique voice. When I read that line, it made me think of my own friends who talk like that and it also sounded like I could actually hear the author speaking to me in the relaxed, flavorful manner in which a friend would speak to a friend. It warmed my heart and made me laugh because I could hear her humor in the way that she said those words. Her writing style makes you feel like she’s talking to you about life in person, as a she would with a good friend, while you each enjoy a cup of coffee or tea.

The author continues to drive her point home in the following sentences on page eight of her book. She wrote, “If you are a helper, start helping. If you are a giver, give generously. If you are a peacemaker, build bridges toward peace. Do what makes you uniquely you! You do you, friend. No one else can. You’ll never regret doing what you love—unless it’s illegal or harmful. That would be bad. Go ahead and regret that—or better yet, don’t do it. But if something sparks joy in you and blesses others, then go ahead and get at it! Because you, my darling, were created to pursue the dreams of your heart.”

Throughout this book, the author maintained an encouraging tone of voice and captivating storytelling style. She wasn’t afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve by sharing a few personal stories from her own life experience in dealing with everything from racism to heartbreak and she didn’t hold back in sharing valuable life lessons that she picked up along the way.

This is a book written by a woman for the hearts of women. The author, though only in her early thirties, has been seasoned by life in ways that sometimes take a lifetime for others to experience.

The author is a dreamer and throughout her book, she encourages her target audience to dream not only for the sake of whimsical wonders but for the fact that God placed a dream in their heart and it is their duty to fulfill it.

She Dreams is written in a way that helps women push for courage, grace and grit—all factors that are necessary to making their God-sized dreams come true.

I love how the author brought God into the picture in almost every chapter, showing the reader that faith in God plays a major role in making the dreams that He’s given you come true. In the summary of her book, the author writes, “God in His goodness breathes new dreams within our hearts and revives the dreams that have died, inviting us to trust Him as we dream impossible dreams that only He can bring to pass—because God not only gives dreams; He fulfills them.” And to that, I as the reader, said “Hallelujah, Amen!”

The messages in this book are adequately supported with Bible-based examples as the author dares the reader to “dream the impossible dreams the Lord is stirring in your heart, reclaim any broken dreams, and trust God for the victory.” She touches on how to pray to God about your dreams, how to obey God as you pursue what He has in store for you, reasons why your God-given dreams are not just for you but are to bless others, and she talks about how your failures can be the catalyst to helping your dreams come true. Most of all, she directs her readers to God as the wise Dream Giver.

I believe that the author achieved her goal of helping her readership discover their dreams and walk into their destiny as they trust God to help them achieve the impossible. I’d recommend this book to every woman with a God-given dream on her heart.

*I (Alexis A. Goring) received a complimentary copy of She Dreams: Live the Life You Were Created for from Audra Jennings PR. My opinions in this honest review are my own.

  
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About the book:

Say yes to the dreams God has planted in your heart.


Every woman was born to dream—to live a life of beauty, passion, adventure, and purpose. No matter how big or how small they are, our dreams push us to become women of courage, grace, and grit. God in His goodness breathes new dreams within our hearts and revives the dreams that have died, inviting us to trust Him as we dream impossible dreams that only He can bring to pass—because God not only gives dreams; He fulfills them.

In this six-week study we will look at Moses’ journey to live out the God-sized dream given to him, exposing the ancient wisdom and truth God offers for every woman with a dream beating in her heart. With timely truth and encouraging accounts of God’s heart and hand in the life of Moses as well as in the lives of ordinary women, author Tiffany Bluhm will dare you to dream the impossible dreams the Lord is stirring in your heart, reclaim any broken dreams, and trust God for the victory. Throughout the study you will identify:

- The role of prayer as you grow into your dreams.
- The importance of obedience as you pursue what God has for you.
- Why your dreams are a blessing not only to you but also to others.
- How your failures can be a gift that help your dreams become a reality.
- The life-changing love, power, and wisdom of the Dream Giver.

Get ready to discover the role you are designed and destined to play as you partner with God for the impossible!

In addition to the book, there is a Bible study guide with leader helps and DVD available.




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About the author:

Tiffany Bluhm, author of the She Dreams trade book and Bible study, is a speaker and writer who is passionate about helping women come to know their value and purpose because of a loving, redeeming God.



In a style that speaks to women right where they are, she shares insights from a life spent chasing after Jesus while walking alongside women from suburbia to the inner city, jails and brothels, and the slums of Kolkata.

Tiffany speaks regularly at conferences and events, and writes for a number of websites, print publications, and popular blogs, including the YouVersion Bible app, Deeply Rooted Magazine, and ScaryMommy.com.

She lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband and two sons, and blogs at TiffanyBluhm.com.

Learn more at www.SheDreamsBook.com.


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Connect with Tiffany:
Website - www.tiffanybluhm.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TiffanyABluhm/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/TiffanyBluhm

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A Video about the book:



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