Monday, December 31, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: The Power and Legacy of A Good Name

What Is His Name?
A devotional by Quantrilla Ard

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, 
Prince of Peace.” ~Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

I remember having grand ideas of what my children’s names would be when I became a parent. I would spend hours searching through websites and books, trying to put together the right combination of first and middle names although I wasn’t sure of what their last names would be (this began long before I was married). The sound of the name was important as I waded through names both traditional and non-traditional, and it had to have just the right ring to it. What I didn’t always take into account was the meaning of the names, and I am glad that I had a few more years yet to ultimately make that decision.

A saying that I hear quite often in my writing and professional circles is “Words mean things,” and names aren’t excluded in this overarching message of the worth and value of words. There is the belief that what you name a child will shape and/or define who they become – that they will live up to what you call them. Although it may or may not have some credibility, this belief was very influential in the naming of our children. So every time someone asks us what our children's names are, I feel a sense of pride knowing that their names were carefully and lovingly considered and chosen.

In this Advent season, I often think of how Mary truly felt. She had to have grappled with the weight of such a responsibility – being the mother of the One for whom all the world had been waiting. There was one burden she didn’t have to carry, naming him. Although it was typical for the naming of the children to be the duty of the mother, this time the baby that was to be born was named by His Father, not by Mary or Joseph.

Matthew 1:20-21 (BSB) says: “But after he had pondered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to embrace Mary as your wife, for the One conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

This name meant something, something special. This name wasn’t just thought up on a whim or conjured from the imaginations of well-meaning family and friends. This name was different. The salvation of the world depended on it. Acts 4:12 (KJV) tells us, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Can you imagine if Joseph and Mary had gotten that one thing wrong? I can’t. Mary and Joseph’s obedience in this matter was of the utmost importance, it literally was the difference between life and death.

While the naming of our children is not typically done in the fashion of Mary and Joseph, I still believe that God wants to be a part of how and what we name our children. I have met many mothers who like Hannah named their children based on God’s response to a specific prayer or circumstance. There are also family names that are passed down through generations, representing years of tradition. What I know to be true is that every time I say the name “Jesus” something shifts in my spirit. There is power in the name of Jesus and rightly so.

The next time you hear the question, “What’s his/her name?” take a moment and think about the name above all names, Jesus, and what a profound impact His name truly has in your life.

Author Bio:
Quantrilla (Quanny) Ard is a faith-based personal and spiritual development writer who lives in the D.C. Metro area with her husband and three littles. 

In addition to being a dedicated wife and mother, she is an entrepreneur, doctoral student, and curator of all things lovely.

As a woman on her own quest of shining a light on the shadowy, hidden places in her life, she writes as the PhDMamma about things she knows to be true in hopes to encourage others to do the same.

Her spiritual goals and her love for Christ propels her quest to share the journey with other women: to walk alongside them and encourage them with words, deeds, and wisdom. Quanny believes in the power that is within collective strength, community, and fellowship.

You will find her wherever people are sharing stories of triumph.

Connect with Quanny:
Website -
Facebook -
Twitter -
Instagram -

Friday, December 28, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Change

A devotional by Gail Kittleson

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
– 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

Looking back over the decades of New Year’s holidays I’ve experienced gives me pause. December 31 and January 1 have always put me into a reflective mood that revolves around a word we often resist: change.

This word appears in the passage above as a strong verb. The New KJV translates change as transform. But the by remains the same, signaling the passive voice. Passive? How can we be passive facing a new year?

Normally on New Years, I spend time reflecting on the past 365 days, and do some journaling and list writing. What areas should I work on in the coming year?

In recent years, I devote more time to giving thanks for all the ways God has blessed and guided me during the year than wallowing in regret over my failures. That signifies progress, because all these years of trying to “walk the walk” have taught me that whatever true change occurs in me comes by grace rather than my own efforts.

We all know about the earth-shattering discovery of penicillin during World War II that saved countless soldiers’ lives.

In 1945, Sir Alexander Fleming, Ernst Boris Chain and Sir Howard Walter Florey won the Nobel Prize in physiology in medicine. Penicillin’s curative effect on various infectious diseases changed the world forever.

But here’s an interesting angle: Nearly seventy-five years later, doctors still say, “Take the whole course of antibiotics.” These instructions stem from Alexander Fleming’s belief, but modern research now challenges this idea, and many physicians believe that taking the entire course of antibiotics unwise.

With no medical expertise, I wouldn’t lobby for one action or the other, but it’s interesting to consider how difficult change can be, even in the scientific world. We can easily understand transformation being difficult in relationships, but since science is devoted to the study of alterations in nature and our society, we assume there would be less clinging to tradition.

As we face another new year, that word change looms before us. It’s only human to cling to the way we’ve always been and done things.

It’s easy to pray, “Change me, Lord,” but much more difficult to live through those changes, especially to allow God to choose what it is that needs to be transformed. This annual holiday reminds us to adopt the “Show Me” motto: “Show me what You want.”

My Prayer: Dear Lord of change and circumstance, grant me courage to embrace what You want for me in this new year of opportunity. Help me to remember that You love me and long for me to become more like Your Son.

Author Bio:
When Gail Kittleson's not steeped in World War II research, drafting scenes, or deep in an edit of her 1940’s novels, she does a limited amount of editing for other authors.

She also facilitates writing and creativity workshops, both in Iowa and Arizona, where she and her husband like to spend part of the winter in the amazing Ponderosa pine forest under the Mogollon Rim.

Favorites: spending time with grandchildren, walking, reading, meeting new people, and hearing from readers who fall in love with her characters.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Ginger's thoughts on saying "Yes" to God

On Saying YES!
A devotional by Ginger Solomon

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”
~Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV)

This verse seems fitting to use it since this is my last devotion for the "God is Love" blog.

God asked me to step out and do something I had never done before, and I did. I stretched myself by writing a devotion for you for the last twelve months. I enjoyed it and learned so much.

But just as the verse says, “For everything there is a season,” and my season here at God is Love is complete with this post.

I don’t know exactly what God is calling me to next in my devotion writing, but I know He wants me to continue in some way. Maybe on my own blog, or maybe with someone else. When He reveals His will, I will follow.

That’s the gist of what He asks of us. When He calls, we answer. We obey. We say, “Yes, Lord.”

Oh, but it’s so hard at times.

It was HARD for me to say yes to writing these devotions. I’m not a non-fiction writer. Let me come clean. I’m rarely a non-fiction reader. What do I know? I read the Bible. I struggle through devotions and self-help books of any kind. I can usually only manage a few pages. But that’s not the point here.

I said yes, and I was blessed for the experience. Even if no one read my posts, I learned from what I wrote. God loves me that way. Even as I sit and write my novels, God speaks to me through my character’s self-talk or dialogue. He teaches me through the words that come through my fingers onto the screen. It’s how “I” learn best. And God is so GOOD to teach me in such a way.

As the New Year dawns in a few days, I challenge you to listen to God’s call. Say yes. Even if it seems like God is calling you to a place you’ve already been, or it seems like a step backward from where you are. Say yes. Oh, the blessings.

Let me tell you a quick story. First, I should say that I didn’t believe I could conceive children.

Oh, the grace and humor of our Father.

Three months after my husband and I said I do, I found out I was pregnant. Surprise! I was ecstatic, elated, emotional, etc. LOL

And then the fun started. Here’s the quick version:

· Son 1 – 1991

· Son 2 – 1993 (2 years, 1 week)

· Son 3 – 1997 (3 years, 4 months)

· Daughter 1 – 1998 (18 months minus one day)

· Daughter 2 – 2000 (18 months plus twelve days)

· Son 4 – 2002 (2 years, 3 months)

· Son 5 – 2004 (23 months)

Oh, my word. Seven kids in thirteen years. FIVE of them BOYS!

Our family (pictured above at my son's wedding)
I always say that God has a sense of humor. My husband wanted five children, and after having one, two sounded good to me. My husband got his five (boys), and I got my two (girls).

And it was HARD. Oh, so hard. I spent many nap times crying out to God. I was tired, frustrated, struggling with everything, and did I mention tired? AND I homeschooled them all. Hahaha.

But God saw me through. I didn’t kill anyone, and the experience didn’t kill me.

It was a season.

But now I’m about to step out of that season. My youngest is 14. In a few short years, he’ll be walking into his future just as his older siblings have done.

And the “being momma” 24/7/365 will be over. Oh, let’s be honest. It’s already over. Mostly. My teens don’t need me as much. My adults rarely do.

It’s bittersweet.

But it also means I’m stepping into a new season. And it’s a bit scary. I’ve been a mom for 27 years.

And yet, I don’t have a choice, because all those years ago, I said yes to God when he asked me to trust Him with my family size.


So, say “YES!” when God calls you because I KNOW, KNOW, KNOW He will blow your socks off with blessings when you do. (BTW, that doesn’t mean it won’t be hard.)

Many blessings on you and yours,


Author Bio:
Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer—in that order (mostly).

She writes or reads inspirational romance of any genre, and if she’s busy homeschooling, doing laundry, or fixing dinner, books are on her mind.

She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), president of her local writing group, and blogs regularly for and at

Monday, December 24, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Finding God’s Love in the Little Things

Little Things
A devotional by Dana McNeely

It was a little thing. A walk through a Southern California neighborhood while visiting my daughter. A beautiful sunny day when I learned of a dark injustice.

“See that house?” My daughter indicated a cute craftsman bungalow with a blue door and empty flower beds, recently tilled. “The HOA made my neighbor remove her bushes. But they hadn’t really died, they were milkweed.”

“Milkweed? She grew weeds … on purpose?”

“Not really weeds. Butterfly bushes. She raises monarch butterflies. The baby caterpillars ate all the leaves on the bushes. She told the HOA they’d soon grow back, but they forced her to remove the bushes. She was really upset.”

So was I. Even though I’d never met the woman, her story inspired me to learn more about monarchs and other endangered butterflies. My husband and I live near Phoenix with no HOA to curtail our activities. We’ve planted several varieties of milkweed where monarchs and other butterflies lay their eggs. We then raised many other flowering plants to provide nectar for the butterflies and a treat for our eyes. Existing trees and shrubs provide shade and shelter.

Butterfly Wonderland

If the sun is out (and it usually is) butterflies will flutter around the milkweed, land on the zinnias, or swoop over the pool for a brief drink. If I bend down and hunt through the milkweed, I can spot a few caterpillars in various stages of growth. A fat one might be climbing up a wall, searching out a place to form its chrysalis, which will look like a piece of carved jade. If I’m lucky, a young butterfly may have emerged, hanging upside down to dry its wings before attempting its first shaky flight.

Finding God’s Love in the Little Things

The more I learn about butterflies, the more I’m in awe of our Creator. What beauty he created! How intricate, how amazing! God shows his love in the instincts he programmed in the butterfly’s infinitesimal brain.

For example, the butterfly lays its eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves, which is the only plant the juveniles will eat. The underside of the leaf provides shade and camouflage for the eggs. The plant itself contains a poison, which is non-toxic to the hungry baby caterpillars, but tastes nasty to birds and other predators who learn quickly to leave them be. In cold winters, the butterflies from northern climes migrate hundreds of miles to Mexico. Our Arizona butterflies winter over!

The life cycle of the butterfly parallels Christian rebirth and transformation. After emerging from the egg, it lives as a caterpillar. Instinct, or the voice of its creator, calls it to retreat into a chrysalis for a time of transformation. Finally, it emerges as a butterfly, free to soar above the earth.

Each time I see a new butterfly emerge, I reflect on what the Bible teaches about transformation and rebirth. Here are a few Bible verses on this topic:

John 3:3 (KJV) 
 "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
 – "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"

Romans 12:2 (NIV) – "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will."

Finally, as Christmas approaches, I reflect upon one last little thing that reflects God’s love. God sent his baby son to grow and live among men. 

In closing and in celebration of this Christmas holiday season when we rejoice over the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, I'd like to share this Bible verse:

Isaiah 9:2,6 (NRSV) 
–  "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined…For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Author Bio:

Inspired by the Bible story of Elijah and the widow’s son, Dana McNeely wondered why the prophet had come to stay with these two. Who were they? What was their life, before? And how did the boy change after dying, seeing the other world … and coming back?

Dana began research for her novel, Rain, which tells the story of the three-and-a-half-year drought from the boy’s perspective.  

No stranger to drought, Dana lives in an Arizona oasis with her hubby the constant gardener, two good dogs, an antisocial cat, and migrating butterflies. She writes biblical fiction, cozy mysteries, and has written for magazines and newspapers. Her short story “Death in the Butterfly Garden” appears in SoWest: Killer Nights (2017).

Connect with Dana on Facebook, Twitter, or

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas on My Heart: A Cardinal Christmas by LoRee Peery

Interview with LoRee Peery about her book, A Cardinal Christmas:

Alexis: Why did you write this book?

LoRee: I wanted to contribute a novella to be included in Pelican Book Group’s Christmas Extravaganza.

Alexis: What inspired your story’s title, “A Cardinal Christmas?”

LoRee: To me, the sight of cardinals is the same as God saying hello through nature. I love the romance of cardinals. They mate for life. I’ve seen the male feed the female in spring. When they appear with snow as a backdrop, I’m reminded of the blood Jesus shed for us that makes us white as snow.

Alexis: Describe your story’s heroine Blythe. What does she look like? How does she talk? What’s her outlook on life? What makes her mad? What brings joy to her heart?

LoRee: Blythe is a beauty in her early thirties. She has a porcelain complexion, black hair, and expressive eyes. Think Penelope Cruz with sea-green eyes. She speaks distinct mid-western. That means clear consonants and no dropping the g on gerunds (unless she’s flustered by Werner’s presence). Her outlook on life has always been optimistic, but this Christmas finds her downhearted because of a recent break-up. She blames herself for being gullible. Laziness makes her mad, especially if she sees potential not being put to use. The Lord works through her family and the influence of friends, as well as Werner, restoring the joy of the Lord and the joy of life.

Blythe loves her job! What does she do for a living and why is she so passionate about it?

She is a vice president for an international resort chain and has a gift for spotting trouble in management. Who wouldn’t love that job? She gets to wear power suits, expensive shoes, and fly to exotic beaches in the middle of winter.

Who broke Blythe’s heart and why did this heartbreak make her feel like she doesn’t need any personal relationships?

LoRee: The year prior, Blythe had shared with Hayley of Christmas Trinkets the exuberance of new love. She thought this guy hung the moon. Then he dumped her for someone younger who could make him look better and more successful in his climb up the corporate ladder.

Why does Blythe’s father need surgery and why does Blythe need to return home?

Ross is a mechanic and owns his business in the tiny town of Edgewood, Nebraska. Bette Jean, his wife and Blythe’s mother, works the front desk at Travis Auto. Ross required a knee replacement, which necessitates physical therapy right away. Blythe’s mother will be his caregiver and driver for at least two weeks. As their only daughter, one with a giving heart, Blythe takes off work to fill in at the shop for her mother.

Alexis: Describe your story’s hero Werner. What does he look like? How does he talk? What’s his outlook on life? What are his strengths and weaknesses? What makes him happy?

LoRee: Werner makes females take a second look. He’s over six foot, has coffee-colored dark, curly hair, facial hair, and blue eyes rimmed in navy. Though he lived in the northeast many years, he still talks as an educated Nebraskan. He believes the Lord’s got it, whatever life deals, so has the attitude, “what will be will be.” He has a strong work ethic and a gift for intuitive mediation. His lack of motivation sometimes comes across as laziness. He’s happy because he’s returned to Nebraska and reunited with Blythe.

Alexis: Werner has experienced tragedy. How did losing his parents and his job change him?

LoRee: Werner never forgot Blythe since they moved from Nebraska when he was a preteen. Since he lost his parents, he’s genuinely lonely for the first time, and jumped on the chance to return to the place his heart considers home.

Alexis: What is it about Blythe that takes Werner’s breath away?

LoRee: Blythe lit up his world because she was full of life as a ten-year-old. Seeing her all grown-up confirms that she’s always had his heart.

What is it about Werner that endears him to Blythe’s heart?

He’s a giver rather than a taker. As children, he offered his hand when Blythe slipped on loose rock, and continued to hold it when they walked the country railroad tracks. He answered an ad as a temporary mechanic without a qualm due to her father’s health situation, and later helps her mother decorate for Christmas.

What was the most challenging part of writing this story? And the easiest?

Setting is the answer to both. Blythe lived in downtown Atlanta. I’ve only been at the airport and seen the historical city thanks to “Gone With the Wind.” Edgewood is loosely based on any small Nebraska town, and was also the setting for Christmas Trinkets.

Is your story’s setting of Edgewood, Nebraska, REAL or imagined? Paint a picture of it with words.

LoRee: Every time I drive through a village one mile from our acreage, I see a gorgeous postcard-visage white church complete with stained glass and cross-tipped spire. There’s also an ancient tiny, brick building that was once the bank. Across the blacktop road, the bank’s vault is in the town’s body shop. The hiking/biking trail curves through on the south edge of town, with two bridges over the same winding creek within a mile.

Alexis: What role does God’s timing play in this story?

Blythe and Werner meet again at the perfect time. He answered an ad, calling him home. She went home at the same time. Blythe’s parents have a big house and Werner stayed as a guest before Ross’s surgery so he could get acquainted with the business. While there, he saw countless pictures of Blythe, and listened as her parents bragged. Blythe lost her necklace, Werner found it…but I’m telling the story. Meeting Werner again and her job situation reveal to Blythe how the ritzy condo in Atlanta had never been home. (I am telling the story!)

How does your personal faith in God affect your storytelling?

I can’t present a story without showing how God directs our steps and wants His best for us. We are all a work in progress and only find fulfillment by obedience.

If you could spend a day with Blythe and Warner before this Christmas season is over, what would you do and why?

LoRee: I think that’s the easiest question of all. I’d walk the Mo-Pac trail (real, where I walked when it was still railroad tracks) on the lookout for cardinals, especially pairs. The trail crosses the same creek twice, where once we wandered off and discovered a beaver dam.

What do you want readers to remember most about A Cardinal Christmas?

Joy and strength come from the Lord.

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

LoRee: I thank you back, Alexis. My closing thoughts include thoughts. There’s a cliché that we are what we eat. I believe we are what we think. If we are thankful, our thoughts turn to joy. If we picture heaven and humbly thank God for sending Jesus to save us, we rise above the troubles of this earth.

Author Bio:

Christian romance author LoRee Peery writes to feel alive, as a way of contributing, and to pass forward the hope of rescue from sin. 
She writes of redeeming grace with a sense of place. 

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

She has authored the Frivolities Series and other e-books. 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.

She is who she is by the grace of God: Christian, country girl, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, and author. She’s been a reader since before kindergarten.

Book Blurb for A Cardinal Christmas:

Blythe loves her job and doesn't need personal relationships, especially of the "love life" variety. 

Steeling herself from a recent heartbreak, Blythe focuses on furthering her successful career, but when her father needs surgery, Blythe returns home to help with the family auto shop. There, she comes face-to-face with the dreams of her past.

Werner has been content to let life pass him by. Following the death of his parents and the loss of his job, he returns to the only place he's ever called home. He finds Blythe more breathtaking than he remembered. But her presence is only temporary and she refuses to let him in.

Can Blythe leave her career behind for a whole new life? Though her heart cries to remain with Werner, can she risk being hurt again?

Buy LoRee’s book on Amazon and Pelican Book Group
Connect with LoRee:
Find her publications at Pelican Book Group:
Amazon Author Page:

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

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Christmas on My Heart: The 12 Gifts of Christmas by Lena Nelson Dooley

Excerpt from Chapter 3 of Lena Nelson Dooley’s book, 
The 12 Gifts of Christmas:

“Let’s all sit down,” he said. Alanza sat beside him.
“MacGregor here came to ask me if he could date you.”
Her eyes widened, but she didn’t look upset. That was a good sign.
“Oh, he did, did he?”
“I did not want to give him my answer until I knew if you in fact wanted to date him.”
Now a blush crept up her cheeks, making her even more beautiful. And her green eyes sparkled. He’d never noticed the tiny golden flecks in her irises before. He tried to keep his face neutral, but it was hard when he wished he had the right to pull her into his arms right then and there.
Her smile widened. “Sure. I’d like that.”
He hoped she didn’t feel pressured. “How about tonight?” he asked. “Would you like to go out to dinner?”
Alessandro clapped his hands softly a couple of times. “Bravo. Now, that’s settled. Do you need anything else, Malcolm?”
He pulled his attention from Alanza toward her father. “No, sir. Thank you.”
They shook hands. “Now, please excuse me, I must finish this.” And Alessandro returned to his paperwork.
The bright smile Alanza flashed him went straight to his heart. I praise and thank You, Lord, for this beautiful woman You have created for me.
“What time?”
What time? When does she get off work? As soon as possible would be good. Calm down and think straight!
“What time would work for you, Alanza?”
“How about seven?”
“Fine. Where do you live? I’ll come pick you up there.”
After Alanza gave him the address, he said his goodbyes, then went out to his car, unable to stop smiling. It’s going to happen!

Alanza had a hard time keeping her mind on work. Malcolm MacGregor asked Poppa if he could date her! Wow. She didn’t think he realized how often she gazed over at him while he was in the restaurant. It had become a habit for her to glance at the door every time it opened between one and two p.m. Even though she knew she’d see him tonight and he had no reason to come back in for lunch, she still looked up every single time the door opened. She hoped no one noticed… especially not Poppa.
When it was almost five, her father stopped by the cash register. “Alanza, you can go home and get ready for your date tonight.”
“But, Poppa, the evening rush will start soon. I could stay at least an hour longer.”
He gave her one of his special smiles. “No, I want you to have plenty of time to get ready.”
That’s all it took. She whipped off her apron and headed to the employee break room to get her things out of her locker. In less than ten minutes, she drove toward her apartment, her heart singing.
While getting ready, she thought about all of the things she liked about Malcolm MacGregor. She loved him being so much taller than she was. At five-foot-eleven, not many men were. She could even wear high heels and not be as tall as he was. He had to be at least six-foot-three—maybe more. He looked strong, but not too buff. Not like those crazy guys who worked out so much that they were musclebound. His sky-blue eyes held intelligence, humor, and warmth. She’d never been interested in a guy with red hair before. But his was a rich auburn with just enough waviness that she’d never seen it in disarray. And when he’d leaned on the counter and talked to her while paying his bill, he smelled very masculine and woodsy. It lingered in the air for a few moments after he left the restaurant.
Alanza sang along with the playlist on her smart phone while in the shower and blow drying her hair. When she went to her walk-in closet, she couldn’t decide what to wear. Why hadn’t she asked Malcolm where they were going? She didn’t know whether to dress up or dress down.
It had started to get chilly before she left work and it would get really cold after the sun went down, so she decided to dress in layers. Navy slacks with knee-high black boots. A rich green, long-sleeved blouse with an attached scarf that tied into a bow near her throat. On top of that, her favorite sweater in shades of green and navy. Then she pulled out a long wool coat with a quilted lining.
Alanza glanced at the clock. He’ll be here in fifteen minutes. Will he be early or late? Maybe just on time.

Author Bio:
Multi-published author Lena Nelson Dooley has had more than 900,000 copies of her books sold. 

She is a member of ACFW and the local chapter ACFW - DFW. She’s a member of Christian Authors’ Network and Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

Lena has been on the ECPA and CBA Bestseller lists, Publisher’s Weekly bestseller list, and several Amazon Bestseller lists as well as a reviewer’s Top Ten Books of 2011. She has won over a dozen major awards.

She hosts “The Lena Nelson Dooley Show” on the Along Came a Writer Blogtalk radio network.

Blurb for Lena's book, The 12 Gifts of Christmas:

Malcolm MacGregor is a descendant of Scotland’s Clan MacGregor and a successful young businessman in Fort Worth, Texas. Alanza Cantalamessa works at a gourmet pizzeria owned by her Brazilian artist mother and her Italian Poppa. 

Both of them are smitten with each other but Malcolm is too reserved to do much more than make small talk—until a promotion at work that will send him away to Australia for six months. It’s December and he has to do something—fast.

Praying about the situation, Malcolm decides to give her twelve gifts leading up to Christmas. Their families and friends think they are moving too fast. And a gold-digger who tossed Malcolm aside in the past has now decided he’s the man of her dreams.

Can Malcolm and Alanza overcome their obstacles before he has to go abroad? Or is it really not meant to be?

Book Review from A. R. S. on Amazon about The 12 Gifts of Christmas:

4.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary old-fashioned romance
October 20, 2018
Format: Paperback

This was a cute story that takes place in modern day about a man who has found the woman he wants to marry and pursues her. Malcolm has set up a time schedule for himself and is intent on making Alanza, whom he has only ever met at her parent’s restaurant, his wife. He wants to be married before he leaves for Australia for a 6-month stint for his job.

Although this story is a bit out of the box, I really enjoyed watching Malcolm’s pursuit of Alanza. At first, he did come off a bit strong, but as I got to know him along with Alanza, he became more romantic and a true Scottish hero. I was pleasantly surprised as there were a couple of surprising twists and turns to the story of a man giving twelve gifts to a woman he barely knows but wants to marry.

This was a cute and fun recommended holiday read. I received a complimentary copy of this novel. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

Buy Lena's book on Amazon

Connect with Lena:
Official Fan Page:
Blogtalk Radio, The Lena Nelson Dooley Show:
Amazon Author Page:

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

Friday, December 21, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Believe

What do you believe?
A devotional by Susan Lindstrom

In the book of Psalm there’s a verse that has seeped into my soul and woven its way into my heart. These words of our Heavenly Father have deepened my faith as a believer in "the reason for the season," maybe it will do the same for you. It’s the 14th verse of Psalm 91.

Let's read Psalm 91:14 (NLT): The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

I love that we are the “those” and the “them” in this verse. Have you ever tried making a bible verse personal? I’m not talking about claiming one as your own, I mean inserting your name to make it personal like this;

The LORD says, “I will rescue Susan who loves me. I will protect Susan who trusts in my name. When Susan calls on me, I will answer; I will be with her in trouble. I will rescue and honor her. I will reward Susan with a long life and give her my salvation.”

Wow! For me, that’s better than the security of money in my bank account, that may not always be there, or a comforting hug from loving arms which may not always be with me. But the Lord’s protection and never-ending compassion He assures, will always and forever be there for me.

Try inserting your name (fill in the blanks):

The LORD says, “I will rescue _____ who loves me. I will protect ______ who trusts in my name. When _______ calls on me, I will answer; I will be with ___ in trouble. I will rescue and honor ___. I will reward ______ with a long life and give ___ my salvation.”

Do you feel it? Do you feel the power of His Promise?

Reading through the Bible, from the Old Testament showing Jehovah’s heart breaking wide open when his beloved children turn away from their God, to the New Testament that speaks loud and clear of His love as he sets a new covenant in motion with Jesus 
Christ being the ultimate love gift. But even though we read it, hear about it and even sing of it, do we believe it? Really and truly? It is an amazing amount of love to deal with after all. 

Maybe you need to pick up one of those "Believe" signs. I see them everywhere, especially this time of year. To the worldly way of thinking it’s suggesting you believe in the "magic" of Santa Claus. But we know it’s really a life-saving urging to believe in the miracle of a virgin’s birth and a love like non-other. A love so full of compassion that He came to earth to be the sacrifice for our sins.

In this season of celebrating our dear Savior’s birth, I hope you can celebrate a love so real that you believe without a doubt that He will rescue, honor, and protect you. Celebrate that He hears your prayers, and that above all else celebrate the gift of salvation with an assurance of everlasting love.

It’s what you can believe!

“And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” ~1 John 5:11-13 (NLT)

Author Bio:
Susan Lindstrom is NOT an award-winning writer yet unless you count that ‘best story’ award in third grade but stay tuned to see what God has planned!

Writing has always been a passion but raising a family, running her sewing and design business, involvement in Women’s Ministry and teaching Sunday School kept her plenty busy.

Now a retired empty-nester, she trusts in God’s amazing timing and has jumped in to embrace this new adventure of writing.

Her first book, Emmie Jane and the Yellow Fuzz, is for children and is now available for purchase on and Barnes & Noble. It's the first in a series of real-life adventures focusing on the Fruit of the Spirit.

Susan grew up on both the East and West Coasts and now calls the beautiful state of Wisconsin home. She is a wife, mom, and grandma to 10 children.

She enjoys a wide variety of music, loves live performance and believes that laughter is the best medicine. When she is not indoors writing, reading or pretending to clean the house, she’s outdoors enjoying the beauty of God’s Creation.

Susan is a proud member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Connect with Susan:
Website -
Facebook -

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Christmas on My Heart: Snow Angel by Davalynn Spencer

Interview with Lena Carver, main character from Davalynn Spencer’s book Snow Angel:

Alexis: Hi, Lena! Thanks for agreeing to an interview! You’re quite the character! First question: Do you think that the author of your story did a good job in telling it? Why or why not?

Lena: Yes, I think she did, because she showed grace about my disfigurement. She didn’t ridicule me for it.

Alexis: Your story is set in Colorado. Paint a picture with words of your surroundings and share your experience growing up there. What was your most favorite memory? Why?

Lena: I didn’t appreciate the colors much as a child, but as I grew up, I noticed the brilliant gold of the aspens in the fall. Even their poorer cousins, the cottonwoods, spruce up for the season. Woodsmoke flavors the crisp autumn air, and with the dropping temperatures, everything feels cozier. But Christmastime is probably my favorite because our community comes together more during that time than any other. It gives me a real sense of belonging.

Alexis: Did you expect to have a holiday romance? Why or why not?

Lena: Ha. I’ve never expected to have romance in my life, holiday or otherwise. Men don’t look at spinsters with abnormalities. But when someone came along who looked past my disfigurement, well, that caught my attention, shall we say.

Alexis: How do you like working for your physician brother as his medical assistant? Describe your day-to-day duties at work.

Lena: I’m convinced Tay went to medical school because of my childhood accident. He’d never admit it, but some things a person just knows. When he set up his practice, it was only natural for me to help him. My prospects of marriage were slim to none, Mama and Daddy had passed on, and we both needed someone. I cook and keep the house for the both of us, and help him keep the surgery clean, see that bandages and supplies are on hand, and help hold patients still when necessary. That’s a challenge, but I manage. And when I have trouble helping him set broken bones, our old buggy mare lends a hand, er, neck. Oh well, you’ll just have to read more about that particular incident.

Alexis: Are you self-conscious about your disfigurement from a childhood accident? How do you cope?

Lena: I guess you could say I’m self-conscious because of my habit of hiding it in my apron. But life goes on, right? And one must adjust, accommodate, and do the best one can. Quitting or feeling sorry for one’s self is out of the question. Self-pity merely robs us of energy and self-respect.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your hero Wil Bergman. How did you first meet him? Was your first impression of Wil good or bad? Explain.

Lena: Wil Bergman was a puzzle from the first moment I laid eyes on his broken, unconscious form being dragged through the front door. Until he scared the living daylights out of me later that night. Good thing I didn’t have my knitting needles in hand. I’m might have stabbed him.

Alexis: What is it about Wil that makes your heart believe that maybe, just maybe, love is within reach?

Lena: Unconditional. There’s no other word for it. His unconditional acceptance of me and obvious pleasure when spending time with me. Plus he can carry on a decent conversation. I couldn’t be with a man who didn’t know how to visit or laugh or hold up his end of an argument. His broad shoulders and beautiful dark eyes don’t hurt either. Don’t tell him I said his eyes were “beautiful.” It’d probably bruise his manly pride.

Alexis: Is there anything about Wil that you do not like? Share details.

Lena: If I let him, he would eat every cookie I ever baked, whether it was Christmas or not. The man eats like a mule. But I guess that means he enjoys my cooking, doesn’t it?

Alexis: What does your brother think of Wil? And does his view of him affect your own? Explain.

Lena: Tay had his reservations at the first, especially when he learned who Wil was related to. But my brother has a way of seeing deeper than a person’s skin and family, clear down into their heart. Maybe that’s what makes him a good doctor. He certainly saw through my poor attempts at hiding my feelings for Wil as well as Wil’s growing affection for me.

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

Lena: I want people to remember that God isn’t limited by our doubts or disappointments. He has messengers and means of delivering His blessings that we can only imagine.

Alexis: Why did Davalynn title your story “Snow Angel?”

Lena: I loved making snow angels when I was a little girl, and then, well, things happened. But who says there aren’t other kinds of snow angels?

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Lena! Merry Christmas and God bless you.

Author Bio:
Davalynn Spencer is the award-winning author of eleven inspirational Western romance titles, both contemporary and historical. 

She is a former rodeo journalist, crime-beat reporter, and the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters. 

When she’s not #lovingthecowboy, she’s wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley.

Book Blurb for Snow Angel:

As a child, she lost something precious at Christmas. 
Twenty years later, she's about to lose her heart.

Lena Carver works as her physician brother’s medical assistant, housekeeper, and cook despite her disfigurement from a childhood accident.

Each year, the Christmas holidays come with contradictions—cherished memories of a mysterious encounter and painful recollections of a great loss. She lives with the belief that she is beyond love’s reach, until a dark-eyed cowboy arrives broken, bruised, and bent on changing her mind.

Wil Bergman wakes in a stranger’s house with a busted leg, a bullet-creased scalp, and no horse. Trail-weary, robbed, and penniless, his dreams and plans for a future are suddenly unattainable.

Forced to recuperate in the home of a country doctor, he finds himself at the mercy of a surgeon whose sister’s healing touch has power to stitch up his lonely heart and open his eyes to the impossible.

Buy Davalynn's book on Amazon

Connect with Davalynn:
Quarterly Author Update and free ebook:
Amazon Author:

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Light

Twinkle Light Promise
A devotional by Paula Moldenhauer

“I am the Light of the world. So if you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, for living light will flood your path.”~ John 8:12 (TLB)

“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. . . . If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!”~ Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)

Our first Christmas tree had only white lights. For years, held in bondage to a legalist understanding of Christmas, we’d skipped the Christmas tree, but I was hungry to express joy at the thought of Christ’s birth, so I hung white lights in the window as a reminder that Jesus, the Light of the World, came to save us from darkness within and without. All other decorations in the years to come built upon that first strand of lights, just as our lives begin with and build on Jesus.

Life is illuminated by Jesus’ grace and truth. Our thoughts, identity, and decisions are illuminated by His light.

Where there is light, darkness flees. It doesn’t matter how the enemy lied to us or who tried to steal light from us. It doesn’t matter, because Jesus, the Light of the World, is with us now. Darkness cannot exist in the presence of light.

Jesus chases the darkness away. His light heals us. His light leads us to freedom.

Jesus is the Word Incarnate. The Word is a lamp to our feet, a light to our path.

Jesus, our Light, reveals next steps. Steps of life-giving light.

In Jesus is life, and His life is the light of all mankind. The darkness of this world has not overcome His light. It cannot! (John 1:4)

God’s light is pure. In Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).

He not only lights our way, He lights us! We are like the Christmas tree. It can sit, unnoticed deep in a forest. When night comes, it is shrouded in darkness. But when wrapped in twinkle lights, that same tree cannot be hidden.

When we are illuminated by the Light of Jesus, we light up our space in this world. We are like Him: pure, white light, like a city set on a hill that can’t be hidden. Like a lamp or a candle set in the middle of a dark room.

Even in the dark times of our lives or of the world, His light shines in us and through us.

In this world of suicide bombers, gunmen in schools, and war in the Middle East, the darkness fights for position. In this world of hidden abuses that tear at personal worth and identity, darkness tries to suffocate.

But it cannot win.

In the most inky, black darkness, the tiniest light always pushes back the black. Whole caverns of darkness cannot overcome one little flickering candle.

There is no greater worship than a life surrendered to the Light. Surrendered lives pierce the darkness as they lift glowing arms to point to Jesus.

My Prayer: Jesus, You are perfect light. In You there is no darkness at all. I surrender to Your light. Take it deep inside me and heal me. Shine it at my feet and guide my next steps. Glow within me, lighting me up from the inside out that I may bring glory to Your name.

Author Bio:

Author, speaker, and mom of four, Paula Moldenhauer encourages others to live free to flourish. She shares this message when speaking at women’s events, and it permeates her written work. 

Paula has published over 300 times in non-fiction markets and has a devotional book series, Soul Scents. Her first published novella was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards, and she now has six published works of fiction.

Paula and her husband, Jerry, are adjusting to a sometimes-empty nest in Colorado.

Visit her at and sign up for her newsletter to get a weekly Flourishing Moments and periodic updates on free days for her books. For daily Flourishing Moments “like” Paula’s author/speaker page

Today’s devotional was adapted from Soul Scents: Flourish Selections for Advent. Download the devotional book for *free* here ( or you purchase it for 99 cents if you prefer to read on Kindle

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Christmas on My Heart: The Swan

The Story Behind The Swan (book) by Piper Huguley:

Caroline Lee had a dream about a romance series. She asked me, via a Facebook DM, if I would join in her dream about 12 mail-order brides coming to a fictitious Colorado town to establish families so that the railroad might come there. The theme would center around “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and each author would write a novella that would culminate in the couple getting married on their particular day. We were also encouraged to entitle our books after the motif of our particular day and to somehow use that motif in the stories.

What an opportunity! I said yes and agreed to meet with her and several of the other chosen authors at the Romantic Times convention in May 2017. At that meeting, everyone went to claim their particular day and motif. Days 1, 12 and 5 were already taken by the three authors who would start, finish, and have a key day in the events of the town. That’s how I became “The Swan” and my story would center around the marriage of my couple on Day 7.

The authors had to keep in touch regularly to ensure that the events of the story over the days flowed smoothly together. Being in the middle was not easy. Also, I had a complex idea for my story. I knew that at the time the story took place (1876) interracial marriage was illegal in most of Colorado. What if I made that my major complication? What if my couple were interracial? How would they skirt the law to be able to marry? The deal over the arc of the series is that twelve couples had to marry to make sure that the railroad could come through. How would such a couple be able to find a happy ending when the law wouldn’t permit it?

I also knew that the phenomenon of Black people who also were able to pass in white society was something that occurred in 1876. So my mail-order bride would be a young woman who would be able to pass for white and was intent on camouflaging her racial heritage to go to Noelle to marry. She was also intent on going to Noelle to confront her mother, who had abandoned her as a young child. The end of “The Swan” is a bit twisty, but I pulled it off in a way that let me be reassured that my couple would be able to have their HEA in a community embraced them both.

The swan motif is woven into the story in several ways. Some are easy “easter eggs” to find. The heroine’s name is Avis, which means bird. She also happens to have a long neck. The name of the general store she works in is called Cobb’s Penn. A cob is a male swan and a pen is a female swan. Learning swan stuff as well as creating this couple, whom I based on Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, made the creation of the story fun.

I specialize in writing romance that speaks to the belief that we are all God’s children and are all precious in His sight, no matter what color we happen to be. I was extremely grateful to Caroline and the other authors that they allowed me to write a story that was truthful to this ideal and to the time while touching people’s hearts.

In 2018, “The Swan” won two Maggie awards—one for romance novella and the other for best book by a GRW member. I’m very proud of this Christmas story, and I hope you will enjoy it as well.

Author Bio:

Piper G. Huguley is a two-time Golden Heart ®finalist and is the author of “Migrations of the Heart,” a three-book series of historical romances set in the early 20th century featuring African American characters. Book #1 in the series, A Virtuous Ruby, won Best Historical of 2015 in the Swirl Awards. Book #3 in the series, A Treasure of Gold, was named by Romance Novels in Color as a Best Book of 2015, received 4 ½ stars from RT Magazine, and won an Emma Award for best historical romance in 2017. 

Huguley is also the author of the “Home to Milford College” series. The series follows the building of a college from its founding in 1866. Book #1 in the series, The Preacher’s Promise was named a top ten Historical Romance in Publisher’s Weekly by the esteemed historical romance author, Beverly Jenkins and received Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest Contest of Self-Published e-books in 2015.

Her new series “Born to Win Men” starts with A Champion’s Heart as Book #1.

A Champion’s Heart was named by Sarah MacLean of The Washington Post as a best romance novel selection for December 2016. 

She blogs about the history behind her novels at

She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.

Blurb for Piper’s book (The Swan):

Avis Smith is willing to go to Noelle to marry a man she doesn’t know in order to avenge a fourteen year wrong 
— her abandonment to a life of misery and abuse when she was just six years old. In order to get to Noelle, she has to lie about who she is, but her thirst for vengeance is so strong, she transforms herself into the pious, beautiful bride that JD Jones wants. Still, she never expected to be abandoned at the altar. 

His work as an abolitionist and fighter for justice will not allow storekeeper Liam Fulton to turn his back on the beautiful woman his archenemy is willing to leave at the altar. He figures a way to help Avis out of her predicament, offers to showcase her in his store so that other potential grooms in Noelle will see her and might want to marry the young woman with the long and elegant neck.

When swans mate, they mate for life. When Liam offers to help Avis, he never expects that in working with her to find a resolution to her problem, he discovers a fierce need to protect her. Avis doesn’t know that she might find something better than what she was looking for--a new way to a family and bonds of a strong and life-long lasting love.

Buy Piper’s book on Amazon

Connect with Piper:

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