Monday, March 28, 2016

Devotional by Mary Manners: Joy-filled Traditions

Join me in welcoming our dear friend Mary Manners to the blog today! She's here to share her thoughts on family-based traditions that bring her joy. I hope that this devotional will bring joy to you! I know that it brought a smile to my face.

If you talk to God, please remember Mary and her family in your prayers. 

God bless you!

Joy-filled Traditions
A devotional written by Mary Manners

“How wonderful it must be to speak the language of the angels, with no words for hate and a million words for love!” 

~ Quoted in The Angels' Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994 ~

Traditions are the vines that connect family memories and lives. The older I get, the more I reflect on the traditions of my childhood, joyfully instilled with the love of my parents. I’m not talking so much about the big events but more about those little things that lay nestled in my heart like bountiful spoonfuls of warm chicken noodle soup.

For example, on each of my birthdays Mom always spent the better part of the morning elbow-deep in sifted flour and eggs as she lovingly prepared a double-chocolate cake layered with vanilla pudding and chocolate chips, drizzled in dark fudge frosting—a virtual and delectable chocolate overload. And Dad, well…at the heart of every summer this hard-working veteran’s ode to the Fourth of July consisted of a walk in the town parade followed by a backyard barbecue. As dusk fell, Dad carefully staked a flare in the lawn of our tiny front yard. Its light shimmered in a waterfall of colorful sparkles that elicited a delighted round of squeals coupled with a flurry of applause from my siblings and me. To a bunch of kids, the resulting fanfare from this single flare was more alluring than the grand finale on the town square.

Warm spring nights were filled with anticipation as I sat on the front steps with a scuffed and tattered baseball clutched in my hands while I waited for Dad to come home from a long day of work. It was his tradition to toss a few pitches to me before heading into the house to greet Mom and then wash up for dinner. Sometimes we got caught up in the moment and those few pitches stretched blissfully past twilight—and the dinner hour. In contrast, on snowy Chicago winter days Dad made it a tradition to help me run my paper route with his beat-up Chevy station wagon. He’d navigate through snow trenches while I bundled the papers and tossed them onto flake-dusted front porches. It was during those excursions that I soaked in Dad’s most valuable kernels of wisdom—words that have remained with me over the decades since I first heard them, “If you’re going to do a job, do it right.”

I’ve carried on some of the traditions of my childhood with my daughter and sons. For example, when Danni turned seven I purchased her first two-wheel bike and spent the afternoon pounding the pavement of our cul-de-sac as I taught her to ride in the same manner my parents employed for each of my siblings and me on our seventh birthdays. Her brothers soon followed. I also prepared sack lunches for school every day, same as my mom did each and every morning for thirteen years. Boloney and cheese with a side of raw veggies remains a favorite at our house, and sometimes I even managed to tuck witty inspirational quotes, scrawled on plain white paper napkins, inside before I closed each bag.

My husband and I have also begun a few of our own family traditions. We love leaving little notes for each other and for our children—taped to the car’s steering wheel, tucked beneath a bed pillow, at a place-setting on the dinner table, slipped with care into a pocket or shoe. The favorite Danni and I share is notes scrawled on a sheet torn from a sticky pad and slapped onto the bathroom mirror. When she started to drive, I began to leave messages for her each morning before I left for work and while she still lay soundly in her bed. “Have a great day. I love you. Be safe.” As the number of messages mounted, she framed the mirror with them. Then one day, as the time for her leave for college approached, I noticed the notes had disappeared. I thought she’d thrown them away while packing, but later wept when I found she’d tucked each one carefully into a shoebox that she carried away with her to campus. Now the messages frame a bulletin board in her dorm room and I pray they remind her daily of the importance…and fun…of traditions.

Traditions…they remain one of the ties that bind my family together and will surely also prove to be a legacy as my children, and now grandchildren as well, carry on many of the nuggets of day-to-day nuances that have over the years blossomed to be special—and cherished—memories.

Author bio: 
Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they've rescued from local animal shelters...Lucky and Gus.

She loves swimming, running, flavored coffee and Smoky Mountain sunsets.

Mary believes everyone has a story to tell, and she loves to share hers. She writes inspirational romances of all lengths, from short stories to novels—something for everyone.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter Sunday! Celebrating this special day with a song and an e-card

Every year, followers of Jesus Christ celebrate the meaning of Easter and remember the reason for our faith—the life of Jesus Christ!

It was through His life on Earth, death and resurrection that all those who believe in Him have a chance to go to heaven. Where would we be without our Savior? Lost and probably nonexistent.

I could talk forever about the beauty of the Christ's sacrifice and The Cross. But I figure that this music video "Mercy Tree" and an e-card from DaySpring would be better and take less time.

God bless you! Enjoy the music and card messages below this text.

An e-card for you:

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Easter Story told by the cutest kids

Words of Faith: Christine's story on kids and discipline

Leaving Our Kids to God's Discipline
A Words of Faith story by Christine Lindsay

As a Christian mom I knew I was supposed to pray and leave my worries about my children to my Heavenly Father. After all, according to His word, He loves them even more than I do. But back in 2006 I was praying hard for Lana, and feeling pretty desperate that maybe God wasn't hearing my prayers for my daughter.

At the time I'd been struggling with whether or not I trusted God to fix my kid’s life or was there something I could fix. Lana was making all the wrong choices as a young adult at university, and paying for those choices in painful ways that have left physical scars to this day. Everything her dad and I had taught her about obeying the Lord’s will, she did the opposite.

Let’s face it, life can be hard, and when our kids hurt, we hurt.

One day as I was cleaning our den I found a box of old photographs, old degree diplomas, and came across a faded blue airmail letter that I'd received back in 1980. It was a letter from my grandmother upon my engagement.

In that letter she wrote how thankful she was to the Lord that I had found a good partner in life, that her prayers for me were answered, that I was living the joyful things that God had planned for me.

For most of my life my grandmother and I were separated by the Atlantic Ocean. With her still in Ireland and me living in Canada, she didn’t have much opportunity to do things for me, other than pray and write letters. She certainly didn’t have the opportunity to “fix” things for me if I messed up my life which I certainly did until I turned around and started obeying God.

My grandmother died in 1984, but many years later in 2006 as I re-read her letter, and I was the mom of an adult daughter, I felt the Lord’s comfort. Behind my grandmother's writing was the Lord's voice right when I needed it, and His gentle reminder to trust Him with Lana.

I resisted the urge to “fix” everything in Lana’s life. It wasn’t a matter of letting her suffer the consequences and to learn from that. We had to by faith put her into God’s hands, to trust that He would open her eyes. It was hard at first to stand back in faith and let God work. But then we saw the Lord start to work in her life. We saw our prayers for Lana answered. In 2010 the Lord brought her back to Himself, and her faith was all the stronger for it, because it was her own faith in Christ, and not just that of her parents.

As much as we want to, we cannot save the ones we love. Only Christ can do that. Give your loved ones over to God. Trust Him to save them, because ultimately seeing Him save my child reaffirmed in my soul that He had saved me.

Seeing our kids desperate need of God underlined for me that I too desperately need the Lord for everything, my heartbeat, my breath, my salvation. There is not one single thing that we can do to “fix” anything in life. It’s a matter of stepping back and letting God do the saving.

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved."~Acts 4:12 (NIV)

And even though at the time I was praying so hard for my daughter she was an adult, in my heart she was still my little girl. And Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. ~Matthew 19:14-15 (NIV)

Author bio: 
Christine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction. She is currently writing her 8th novel. Aside from being a busy writer and speaker, Christine is the happy wife of David for 35 years, a mom and a grandma. 

She makes her home on the west coast of Canada, and in Aug. 2016 she will see her long-awaited non-fiction book released, Finding Sarah, Finding Me: A Birth Mother’s Story

Please visit Christine’s website or follow her on Amazon or Twitter. Subscribe to her quarterly newsletter, and be her friend on Pinterest, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Book review: Spring Brides

My Review of Spring Brides
A book of three novellas written by Rachel Hauck, Lenora Worth and Meg Moseley

The book’s back cover blurb starts with an invitation that reads, “Happily after begins today. The honor of your presence is requested at three spring weddings.” I loved the details on the blurb and was honored to receive this lovely invitation. But it was the book’s front cover that made me accept the invitation these three fictional springtime weddings.

The cover photo of Spring Brides is elegant, sweet, soft and simple. I loved the fact that the color theme was purple. I simply adore that color! A woman wearing an elegant, white wedding dress with what looks like a sweetheart neckline with buttons trailing down the middle low back of the dress. She’s hiked up her dress with her left hand to make a clear pathway for her feet. Her right hand is doing double-duty because she’s balancing her clutch of her bouquet of purpose flowers with her grasp on a lilac color umbrella. 

The background of this front cover photo is of a grassy area that leads to what looks like a blue-gray river stream. The title of the book along with the authors’ names are written in purple. All of those elements blend perfectly to create a whimsical and wonderful book cover. It also made me want to pick up the book and read it. Yes, I judged this book by its cover and I’m SO glad that I did. Allow me to tell you my reasons why. We’ll spend a little time on each of the three stories, in order of publication:

“A March Bride” by Rachel Hauck

I’d say that this story was a perfect 10. The author (Rachel Hauck) spends a great deal of her storytelling style on details. It’s through the details that you understand the characters and fall in love with their story. The story is about Susanna Truiit who is three ways away from marrying the man of her dreams who happens to be royalty. His proper title is King Nathaniel II of Brighton Kingdom. He wooed her and won her heart in Rachel’s previous book Once Upon a Prince and now it’s time for their love to be sealed. However, there is a problem—the prince's government insists that Susanna renounces her American citizenship before the wedding. She cannot have dual citizenship due to the political reasons. Making things worse is the fact that her closest family and friends for health-related reasons, cannot fly to Brighton for the wedding. The reader learns of this multi-layered conflict within the first few chapters of the story.

Rachel as an author, does an awesome job of developing the conflict and using it to drive the readers deep into the characterization of her hero and heroine. Even the secondary characters are solid and written well. The author gives great thought about their hopes and dreams in their fictional life along with showing the reader their strong support of the main characters. She knows how to show and not simply tell the story.

The plot was unpredictable, even to a seasoned reader like me! I enjoyed the surprises and experienced great anticipation about how the plot twists would work out toward a happy ending. After all, she’s marrying a prince and don’t all fairy tale-like stories have happy endings?

Without giving away the ending of "A March Bride", I will say that as a reader, I was satisfied with the ending of this story. I look forward to reading more books by this author.

“An April Bride” by Lenora Worth

Another story that I’d give a perfect 10 rating. The author (Lenora Worth), does a fabulous job of painting these captivating fictional characters and structuring their world with her words.

The author’s strength is telling the story through emotions and memories. She focuses on Stella Carson who is a blushing bride and is ready to marry the man of her dreams (Marshall Henderson). Marshall is a wounded warrior. He was sent to the Middle East as a soldier for the U.S. Army but he suffered a loss so great that it robbed him of his memory. So after a long stay at the hospital, he returns home and is reunited his bride but he barely recognizes her and does not remember their love story.

The fact that Marshall does not remember their relationship and love story troubles Stella. But she refuses to give up. She’s strong-willed about marrying him as scheduled, from the first day of their reunion through most of their story. She makes every effort to kindly show him their love story and tell him why they're meant to be together. As time goes by, Marshall realizes the reasons why he wanted to marry Stella—she’s beautiful, sweet, compassionate, caring and patient—but he does not remember how they fell in love. He cannot remember any of their dates but he does listen to his parents who gently push him to still marry Stella despite his memory loss. His parents tell him that he and Stella are the “real deal” and help me realize that memory loss or not, when you find true love, it’s rare and worth fighting to keep.

However, Marshall’s trauma from his experience as a soldier makes him more distant to Stella because he won’t share his burdens with her and it causes a rift in their relationship. You’ll have to read the story to find out if love conquers all. But I will say that as a reader, I was not disappointed.

The author weaves a very sweet and realistic story, one that soldiers and army wives in real-life can relate to. I’d recommend “An April Bride” to everyone who has ever loved a soldier. It’s truly a touching and beautiful story that anyone can appreciate and enjoy.

“A May Bride” by Meg Moseley

May is my birth month, so I instantly wanted to read this story. It focuses on Elle Martin, a country girl living in the city, who dreams of a traditional wedding. She goes shopping for wedding dresses in her free time and plans other details for her wedding. But there’s just one necessary detail that she cannot shop for or exactly plan to get—the groom. She’s one of those women who have dreamed of their perfect wedding day since she was a little girl. Now she is a grown woman with an agenda, one that she keeps hidden when she meets her hero, Gray Whitby.

Gray is quite a catch. He’s good-looking, stable, funny and smart. The only flaw in his character, I’d say, is his impulsiveness. He and Elle strike up a fast friendship that leads to mutual attraction and then a whirlwind romance, the kind that ends with a proposal.

But the proposal is only the first hurdle on the path to Elle’s dream wedding. She has a strict mother who after having her heart broken by Elle’s father, is cynical about love. Elle’s Mom does nothing to improve or approve of Elle’s relationship with Gray. She rains on their wedding planning parade and places doubt in their heads as to whether or not they should tie the knot. Oh, the conflict! But don’t you know, it’s the conflict that makes the story?

The author (Meg Moseley) does a great job at creating conflict and going deep into her character’s thoughts/desires/fictional life stories. However, the story’s pacing felt rushed. I think that the story may have been better if the pacing was a bit slower and more steady because the rush, while it was fine for the whirlwind romance, took away from the story’s structure. It seemed a bit loose in points and unbelievable.

However, “A May Bride” was still a good story. The dialogue was unique and the characters were likeable. I think that if this story was a standalone novel, the author may have had more time to develop the plotline and deepen the characters. I’d give this story a solid 8 (on a scale of 1 to 10).

After “attending” each of these “weddings,” I’ve decided to give Spring Brides an A+! It’s a wonderful collection of stories. If you love romance stories with a hint of humor and a solid thread of faith, you need to read this book.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Words of Faith: Sarah's story about a Savior who gives His strength to us

A Life of Strength
A Words of Faith story written by Sarah Hamaker

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”~Philippians 4:13

Life can wear you down. We all struggle at times with feeling tired, worn out, stressed out, and overwhelmed. We face obstacles that we think we cannot overcome. We slog through days that seem long and drawn out. We have to find a way through hurt feelings, injustice and unfairness.

And all too often we forget that we are not in this alone: We have a Savior who wants to shoulder those burdens on his strong back. We also have a Savior who gives his strength to us.

But we don’t ask for that, do we? We go it by ourselves, trying to keep our heads above water without reaching for the lifeline right by our side.

Philippians 4:13 is the perfect antidote to our weariness. I don’t recall when I memorized this verse, but it’s one that has stuck with me for many, many years. It pops into my mind whenever my strength is failing and I sometimes silently, sometimes audibly, repeat it over and over until I feel stronger to face whatever trial is before me.

I’ve said during labor and delivery of my four children. I’ve said it in the dentist chair as the hygienist scraps plaque of my teeth. I’ve prayed it for others when they’re facing a tough day or event.

Each time, I’m reminded of Christ’s strength. This isn’t some ordinary strength. Christ needed extraordinary strength to fulfill His Father’s will to die on the cross for the sins of those to whom He’s called as His own. This strength is more than sufficient for my own small needs by comparison.

We all can live a life of strength when we cling to the promise in this verse: We can do all things because of the strength Christ gives us.

Author bio:
Sarah Hamaker has written Ending Sibling Rivalry: Moving Your Kids From War to Peace (Beacon Hill Press, 2014). 

Her stories have appeared in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and her romantic suspense novel, The Dark Guest, won the 2015 ACFW Genesis contest. 

Visit her online at

Saturday, March 12, 2016

My thoughts on the Love of God

Because He Loves Us
A devotional written by Alexis A. Goring, founder of "God is Love" blog

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~John 3:16 (NIV)

When my Mom is sick, I still reach out to hug her because she is my Mom and I love her no matter what. So at the risk of me becoming sick by being near her, I still risk it because I know that giving a hug makes sick people feel better. My willingness to risk getting sick so that I can help my Mom, makes me think about something greater: the Love of God and the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ who drew near to humanity when we were at our worst because He loves us. 

Jesus Christ came to Earth to reach out to the sick and hurting people in a world ridden with the negative effects of sin. He gave hope to a hurting world by reaching out and restoring people. Jesus Christ's ministry on Earth gave us hope. At the risk of being separated from His Father, Jesus risked it all to be near us, to hold us, to console us and most importantly, to restore us through His gift of salvation. Christ's love for us cost Him His life. But He defeated death and the grave when He rose again! Now, He is the Divine Mediator between God and humankind (1 Timothy 2:5).

The Bible says that we have a High Priest (Jesus Christ) who is familiar with our suffering and our pain (Hebrews 4:15). He knows the human plight so well because He lived here on this planet and endured every trial and tribulation we may ever face. Yet, He did not sin and He was victorious! Christ drew near to us and was not afraid to take on the sins of the world so that we may be free from the wages of sin, eternal death (Romans 6:23)! Why did He do this? Because He loves us!

So if you’re going through something that you do not understand or dealing with pain that makes you feel isolated and alone, guess what? You are NEVER alone because JESUS understands. He feels your pain. When you’re hurt, He’s hurt. When you cry, He cries. When you need a hug, He is there to envelop you with His love.

The Bible says that Christ is near to the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). We serve a High Priest who is able to empathize with our every pain, no matter how BIG or small (Hebrews 4:15). How is He (Jesus Christ) able to relate to us and understand everything we’re going through? Well my dear, it is because He’s been where you are, quite literally. Jesus walked in humanity’s shoes for 33 years of His life here on Earth. He carried our pain to the Cross on a hill in Jerusalem that Christians today refer to as Mount Calvary. It was there that he paid our penalty for our sin when He allowed the Roman soldiers to nail him to the cross. Now I do say "allowed" because Christ is God's Son. He could have easily defeated the soldiers and taken himself off that Cross and never died. So what kept him on the Cross? He did it because He loves us

The Bible says that He who had no sin, became sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus took our place on the cross. He paid the penalty for our sins (death). But in the process, He broke Satan’s hold on death. No longer would our death be eternal. No longer would God be out of reach for us. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, if we accept His gift of salvation then when we die, we have the promise of eternal life that we will receive when Jesus returns to Earth to take His faithful followers home to Heaven where there will be no more pain or sorrow. In Heaven, we will experience the abundant, painless life that God planned for humankind before sin entered our story.

God restores: Christ’s death on the cross reconciles us to God. Jesus serves as the bridge between mankind and God’s Throne. Because of Christ’s death on the Cross, we mere mortals can now approach God’s throne through prayer boldly and find help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Because of Christ’s sacrifice, when we sin, Christ reminds God that He paid the penalty and God covers our sin with the blood of Jesus Christ. Then, He casts our sin into the depths of the ocean (Micah 7:19) and remembers it no more (Isaiah 43:25). 
Because of Christ, we can have a new start after we ask God to forgive us for our sins. 

The Bible says that God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Every day is a clean slate when you’re confessing your sins to God and living for Him. Now, this is not an excuse to keep a cycle of sinning then asking for forgiveness and taking it for granted that you can start new tomorrow because the Bible says that there will be a time where God says “enough” (Revelation 22:10-12) and tells His Son (Jesus Christ) to go to Earth and get His children, taking His faithful followers home to heaven. At that time, if you’re still in your sin, you’ll miss out on eternal life. So please do not wait until it’s too late. Accept Jesus Christ today. Ask Him into your heart. Plead for forgiveness of your sins. Find a good, Holy Bible-believing church and fellowship with other believers in God. Surrounding yourself with other Christians is important and so is telling the world about the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

When you are in love with God and appreciate all His Son has done for you, it’s hard to NOT share your love for Him with the entire world. I know that when Jesus came into my life and His glory changed everything in my life story for the better, it was hard to keep it to myself. It’s when my writing ministry was born. I started writing devotionals like this one and embarked on a journey of sharing His love with the world through message boards, blogs and social media. It’s such good news! Try inviting Jesus into your heart and you’ll see why you cannot keep your love for Him to yourself. He is AMAZING and His love for us is out of this world! And our true home, Heaven, is more beautiful and blessed than any place on planet Earth (1 Corinthians 2:9). Did you know that we won’t need light when we get to Heaven because the glory of God will light all of heaven? Read Revelation 21:23 for proof. I am SO looking forward to going home. Aren’t you?

But back to the main message of this devotional: Christ loves you. He fights for you. He’s passionate about saving your soul and taking you home to heaven to live eternally. The Bible says that He’s come to give us life and give it more abundantly (John 10:10).

Aren’t you glad that we serve a risen Savior who is in our world today? Aren’t you glad that He draws near to you at your worst and loves you no matter what? Aren’t you glad that He paid the price for our sins (The Bible says that the wages of sin is death) and made it possible for us to be reconciled to God (who hates sin) and live eternally?

I know I am (so glad). If you don’t know Jesus, I encourage you to get to know Him today. Read His Word (The Holy Bible). Draw close to Him and never let Him go.

In closing, I'd like for you to listen to this song, "How He Loves Us". It's performed by Kim Walker-Smith and Jesus Culture (musicians). Enjoy! 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Words of Faith: Emilie's story about obeying God

The Beauty in Obedience
A Words of Faith story by Emilie Anne Hendryx

Sometimes having faith means being obedient.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really liked the term “obedience”. I wasn’t a rowdy, rebellious child, but it isn’t so much obeying parents I take issue with but more obeying God. Now, before you go and get the wrong idea, I’m not saying I don’t want to obey God. I do! However, the thought that it’s something I “have” to do used to be (and sometimes still is) difficult for me.

Why is obedience hard? Because I feel like it’s a forced thing, something you have to do, like an obligation, and I don’t like the thought of my relationship with God being about obligation. I see my relationship with the Lord as just that—a relationship. It’s something I get the pleasure to enjoy, not something I force myself to do. But…what happens when I’m “not feeling it”? What happens when my sinful self gets in the way of the enjoyment of my relationship with Him?

Let’s be real: We sin and our lives are marked by the need for continual repentance. No matter where we are in our walk with the Lord this will always be true until He comes back, so that means there will be times when we “aren’t feeling it”. This realization pushes me forward which is where obedience comes in.

The dictionary says to obey is to: “comply with the command, direction, or request…[to] submit to the authority of.” When we obey, we are submitting to God’s authority in our lives. He has offered saving faith through His son Jesus but that comes with a command to have faith—to believe (Ephesians 2:8). And sometimes building our faith comes with the realization that we need to be obedient to his commands. At first glance this doesn’t sound as inviting as the thought of “just having faith”, but it is.

In example, there are times during my busy life when I don’t want to clean the house. I think, It can wait until tomorrow. But then tomorrow comes and I convince myself it can wait another day. I will keep doing this, but eventually living conditions will become unbearable. I’ll have to clean. If I were to take this attitude toward my relationship with God, I could easily put off spending time with him until tomorrow…or the next day…or the next, etc. If I didn’t realize how important time spent with Him is, I could lose sight of what belief in Him looks like rather than feels like.

This is tricky! I’m not saying you need to “force yourself” in your relationship with Christ, but I’ve noticed something about myself: I’m prone to slip into times where I “put off” good things. Cleaning, eating healthy, working out, sleeping enough, spending time with God…the list goes on. Especially in this New Year I’ve realized the reality of obeying then feeling. I don’t take this as a rule for my life, but I believe there are times when we are called to obedience, despite how we may feel, and then the Lord changes our hearts through the process.

I saw my lack of dedicated time with the Lord and realized things weren’t just going to magically change. I prayed and asked for His help, then decided I would do something about it. I started putting an alarm across the room so I would have to get up and out of bed to turn it off. Then, with that extra morning time, I focused on reading His word, journaling, praying, and spending time with Him before my day began.

I won’t say I’ve got it all figured out, but God has taken me from a place of obedience to a place of enjoyment! On most days I look forward to 6 a.m. (I realize that’s not early for some of you…but when you work from home and don’t have to get up, it’s a sacrifice *hehe*).

I urge you to evaluate your habits. Invite the Lord into this time with you and see where He would have you obey. Then pray that the obedience would lead to desire and desire to joy!

Author bio: 

Emilie is a freelance writer and photographer living in the heart of Washington, D.C. She’s a member of ACFW and currently working on a romantic suspense series while dreaming up YA Sci-Fi dystopian worlds on the side. 

She’s got a soft spot in her heart for animals and a love for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. 

In her spare time you can find her playing guitar or reading a book all while drinking too much coffee. 

Connect with Emilie on her blog,, or on her Facebook author page,

Friday, March 4, 2016

Words of Faith: Why Brandy Bruce chooses to TRUST God

Trusting in God 
A Words of Faith story by Brandy Bruce

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” 
~Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)

It’s become kind of a trend for people to choose a word of the year in January. This might be taking the place of a resolution for some, or just something that goes alongside your resolutions. Last year, I chose the word brave. It seemed like a good one. For one thing, I knew I’d be having a baby in March, and I’m terrified of childbirth. For another reason, I knew that after my baby was born, I was going to leave the place I’d been working for the past decade. Three kids and an editing job felt like too much for me. I knew I needed some breathing room. But change can be scary. Life changes, having babies, raising kids, following dreams—all of those are good things, but sometimes they take a little courage.

This year, the moment I started thinking I needed to choose a word, trust was whispered to my heart. I know without a doubt that God is teaching me to trust him. I’ll be honest with you, trusting God doesn’t come easy for me. The second half of Proverbs 3:5, “lean not unto your own understanding” is difficult. When it comes to trust, I like to reason things out. God tells us to trust him, but he doesn’t necessarily promise to give us what we want or what we think we need. That’s too open-ended for me! Still, that’s the way it goes.

There comes a time when we have to choose trust over logic. Trust over reason. Trust even over understanding. I can tell you that my faith journey involves more of these moments than I’m comfortable with. However, every time I dig deep and say, “Okay, Father, I don’t understand what You’re doing here, but I’m trusting in You,” my relationship with God gets a little tighter. It’s a little more real.

When I read that verse above, I can’t help feeling that God had people like me in mind. He knew that I’d need the directive to trust him, not my own reasoning. Some things about this life don’t make sense to me. The level of evil. The injustice everywhere.


Despite everything you see. Despite everything you can’t see. Trust.

There’s a bigger picture. There’s a plan. There’s more to the story.

As I mentioned before, I’m basically terrified of childbirth. Yet I’ve had three beautiful children. Each time I’ve had to trust the doctor helping me. Trust that she knows what she’s doing. Trust that she can see me through the hardest moments. And trust that she wants what’s best for me (and baby). It’s always scary. It’s always painful. But the end is always worth it! I’d go through every minute all over again to get these three babies of mine.

The faith journey is similar in the sense that God knows what he’s doing. He’ll see us through those hard moments. He wants good things for us.

So he calls us to trust him and we keep trying.

What’s your word for this year?

Author bio:
Brandy Bruce has worked in book publishing for more than ten years. 

She's an editor and an author and a woman who really loves dessert. 

Brandy lives in Colorado with her husband and three children.

Connect with Brandy:
Blog -
Author page -
Twitter handle - @BrandyBruce 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Interview with LoRee Peery, author of "Touches of Time"

Welcome LoRee Peery to the blog! She's here to talk about Touches of Time, her new novel which releases today (March 1). Here's the cover photo for LoRee's book:

LoRee poured her heart into writing this novel. She speaks from experience because this story is close to home. Read on to find out why.

*Interview questions by Alexis in bold, answers from LoRee are not in bold...

Alexis: What inspired you to write Touches of Time?

LoRee: My father’s unsolved homicide has bothered me for more than two-thirds of my life. The driving desire to solve the crime on paper has lived with me for a long time, stimulating my imagination.

How did you research for writing this book? Share details.

I have saved publicized articles about the crime, along with letters written to me by strangers who responded to editorial letters, and a record of what I did trying to aid in the investigation. Ten years after the incident I started writing in journals. Many entries dealt with my struggles. The character of Lena, rather what she left behind, is based on those items.

What can you tell us about your heroine Sarah’s role in this story, without giving away the plot?

Sarah is a grieving daughter, as I was. My heart is in her character. I was seventeen days from delivering my son when my father was murdered. It made sense to me for Sarah to be pregnant.

Describe Sarah’s feelings when she meets the hero, Ford. What was her first impression of him? Would you say that it was a lasting impression? Why or why not?

Sarah is immediately attracted to Ford. The second time they meet she knows she has someone in her corner, as far as the cold case is concerned.

What did you find the most challenging about writing Touches of Time?

Myriad emotions hit me as my mind travels back. Some memories have grown dim with time, others may carry the impact of immediacy forever, and hit me every single time I read certain passages. My stomach churns, tears form. Prayer goes a long way when it comes to challenges.

What was the easiest part of the writing process for you?

I’m smiling as I answer this. Getting lost in the building romance between Sarah and Ford always takes me away from the reality of the tragic event that brought them together.

What drives Sarah to find out the details of her grandfather’s death?

Part of it is guilt. Readers will pick up on that. She’d also told her mother she’d try. Third, she seeks answers for the family. I hope my siblings, if they read this book, will understand where I was coming from. The part of the book from Lena’s perspective is a fictional memoir.

What makes Ford, who is a cold case investigator, want to help Sarah solve her grandfather’s cold case?

Something out of his control happened when he was young and made him despair for those left behind after violent crime. He strives to help family members of victims live beyond those events. Besides, he’s been drawn to Sarah on a personal level since first sight.

What is it about Sarah that makes Ford want to protect her?

She’s dealing with a double loss. He has empathy toward her, and being protective is part of who he is.

How did you weave your personal faith into this storyline? Explain.

Faith is part of who I am. Sarah’s mother Lena shared her belief and referred to Bible verses in her journals, which are based on my own writings.

What is the theme of this book?

Dealing with unfinished business can change your life for the good.

What is the moral of the story?

Faith abounds when Jesus is the quest.

Complete this sentence: When I finished writing Touches of Time, I felt____________________ because______________________.

When I finished writing Touches of Time, I felt it was time to close the books, so to speak, because even though what happened to both of my parents has something to do with who I am today, looking back sucks life from today. I’ve written from other characters’ perspectives that in order to move forward as people, we have to consider the past. We can’t run from it. Like Sarah, I need to focus on what God has called me to do in my various roles, living today but looking to the future.

Thanks for the interview, LoRee! Do you have any final comments?

Alexis, you’ve posed thought-provoking questions. I thank you for making me think.

Author bio: 

Christian romance author LoRee Peery strives to remember the Lord’s redeeming grace each day when she surveys her sense of place in Him and where He has placed her. 

LoRee clings to 1 John 5:4 and prays her family sees that faith. 

Her desire for readers, the same as for her characters, is to discover where they fit in this life journey to best work out the Lord’s life plan.

Connect with LoRee:
Twitter -

Facebook -
Pelican Book Group -