Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Ginger's thoughts about God's Temple

Temple of God

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." ~1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

I started a new way of eating today. It’s not a diet. Diets are temporary. I plan to make this a way of life. But it’s hard. I haven’t even made it through one whole day yet, and I want to quit.

I am very overweight. I need to lose 75 lbs to be on the top side of my “supposed” height/weight bracket. I weigh over 100 lbs more than when I got pregnant with my first child and 50 lbs more than I did 9 months pregnant with ANY child. But that was seven kids and 25+ years ago. And yet that’s no excuse.

I need to take responsibility for my bad eating habits. Today. Not tomorrow. I’ve put it off until tomorrow for the last 12+ years. Tomorrow has come.

I’m ashamed of how I’ve let my temple fall apart. I haven’t done my best. I’ve been lazy, kind of like the sluggard in Proverbs 13:4 (NIV), “A sluggard's appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”

Or Proverbs 26:15 (NIV), “A sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.” Except I brought it back to my mouth, repeatedly. Full of cookies, candies, soda, and every other kind of thing that “tasted” good. I didn’t care if it was good for me.

So now I’m making a choice to change. It’s not a diet. It’s a new way of life, a new way of eating. I MAY be able to bring back a few of the items I truly enjoy, but that’s a long way down the road.

I’ve made choices for most of my life to glorify God in my words, in my books, in my online presence, in my family, at my church, but my eating...not so much.

And today, I’m making a choice to honor God’s sacrifice. I’m choosing to glorify God in my body by making it the healthiest I can.

Let me be clear. I am not judging whatever you do. This choice is about me. It is between God and me. I don’t have any stake in your choices – good, bad, or somewhere in between – whether in regard to eating or anything else in your life.

It is time for me to change. To be as healthy as I can be. That’s all. And if you find a bit of encouragement in my struggle, then that’s all the better.

And along with the reminder that my body is God’s, I remember what Paul said to the Philippians 
4:13 (ESV), “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

What is one choice or change that you’ve made that seemed insurmountable, but you persevered and accomplished your goal? I (and probably others) need the encouragement.

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, president of her local writing group, and blogs regularly for and at

Monday, March 26, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: A Widow, A Prophet and Provision from God

The Widow of Zarephath
A devotional by Dana McNeely

This is the third post in a series on the prophet Elijah. If you’d like to start from the beginning, click the titles to read Love in the Time of Drought and In the Waiting Room.

"But after a while, the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land. Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.” ~1 Kings 17:7-9 (NLT)

Trusting God in Good Times and Bad

For about a year, Elijah lived by the brook Kerith while drought gripped the land. God had promised to care for him there. The ravens brought food daily and the brook continued to flow. Under these pleasant conditions, how easy it was to praise God.

But one day, the brook’s flow diminished. When the last trickle of water sank into the dry, cracked earth, what questions might have entered Elijah’s mind? God had said, “Drink from the brook.” Wasn’t that a promise that water would be there to drink?

Trusting God When Confused

If Elijah had questions when the brook disappeared, more were to come. Zarephath was beyond Israel’s border near Queen Jezebel’s birthplace. Her father King Ithobaal and Ahab were allies. Elijah faced a difficult trek across the drought-ridden land, right into enemy territory. Once there, how would he find this special widow, among so many widowed in the land? Should he throw himself on the mercy of a woman who had lost her own provider, who probably worshiped the very idols Elijah opposed?

Doesn’t it often happen this way for us? We face difficulty and we pray for the Lord’s help. We envision his response—but sometimes when the answer comes, we’re shocked at how far off it was from the answer we expected. Do we trust in good times, but doubt when we face trials?

But Elijah’s fervent prayers and time waiting beside the brook had strengthened his faith. He obeyed the Lord’s leading.

So he went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the gates of the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks, and he asked her, “Would you please bring me a little water in a cup?” As she was going to get it, he called to her, “Bring me a bite of bread, too.”

But she said, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.” ~ 1 Kings 17:10-12 NLT

The widow’s response is so poignant. She goes willingly to get him the cup of water, a precious commodity in this drought. But then his second request—Bring me a bite of bread, too. How unkind it seems for Elijah to request the first bite of her last meal.

But consider subtle hints in the text. The widow says, “I swear by the Lord your God…” indicating she knows who Elijah is—may even know his God herself. And the next verses reveal that Elijah knows this is the woman he seeks. God said, “I have instructed a widow there to feed you.” Elijah’s sojourn by the brook has shown him that if God promised the widow will feed him, her food will last as long as it’s needed.

Unexpected Blessings

But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”

So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah. ~I Kings 17:13-16 (NLT)

God cares for us during difficult times as well as during “showers of blessings” but He asks for trust and obedience. When the brook dried up, Elijah might have thought that God forgot His promise. When told to go to Zarephath, the prophet might have questioned God’s direction. Instead, he obeyed, resulting in provision not only for him but also for the widow and her son.

Thoughts to Ponder: 

· Have you experienced God’s love and care during difficult times?

· What sustains you during such times?

· Think of a time when unexpected blessings were the outcome.

· For further reading: Elijah the Tishbite by F.W. Krummacher, and Elijah by A.W. Pink

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, March 25, 2018

Let Love Bloom: Where She Belongs by Johnnie Alexander

Find Your Way Home
A personal essay by Johnnie Alexander

My 2018 page-a-day calendar features a motivational message accompanied by one of Mary Engelbreit’s playful illustrations. I’m often inspired, amused, or delighted by the day’s design.

But last weekend’s page touched a special place in my heart. Along with Ms. Engelbreit’s adorable characters and a cute little cottage were the words "Find Your Way Home".

I couldn’t help but smile at this sweet token of God’s steadfast love.

You see, I’ve been a bit of a vagabond for the past several months. After living with my sister in the Memphis area for three years, I moved into my own apartment a couple of miles from my daughter’s family in Tampa.

Less than a year later, just a week before Christmas, I moved all my worldly possessions—except what I could fit in my Pontiac Vibe—into storage while I took off on a holiday road trip.

My route took me from Tampa to Memphis to Tulsa to Sierra Vista, Arizona to Tulsa to Clarence, Missouri, then back to Memphis.

When I left my apartment, I didn’t know where my next home would be. But that was okay because I knew that God knew.

Which brings us back to last weekend. By then, my two dogs and I had been hanging out with my sister for a couple of months.

I think of the message on the calendar page, “Find Your Way Home,” as an inside joke between God and me. The plans were already made. On Sunday I packed up my Vibe. And on Monday, I drove to my new home in Oklahoma.

In the opening pages of Where She Belongs, my heroine is trying to find her way home. Shelby is fulfilling her dream of raising her young daughters in the same house that gave her so many cherished childhood memories.

But as the story unfolds, Shelby realizes that home has a deeper meaning than even the most beloved house. She lets love bloom in her heart, and a new dream for her family replaces the old one.

God blesses us with our homes here on earth, but He’s preparing our eternal homes in Heaven.

His Word shows us the way.

Author Bio:
Best-selling author Johnnie Alexander imagines heart-tugging stories in multiple genres. Her debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, has been translated into Dutch and Norwegian. She also writes contemporary romance and cozy mysteries. 

Since Johnnie also loves to talk about writing, she interviews inspirational authors for Novelists Unwind, co-hosts Writers Chat, a weekly online show, and teaches at writers conferences and on Serious Writer Academy

Johnnie recently moved to Oklahoma with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. 

Connect with Johnnie on her website or her Facebook Author Page.

Book blurb for Where She Belongs:

Shelby Kincaid is ready to move on from her grief. With high hopes for the future, she longs to purchase her family’s ancestral homestead so she can raise her young daughters in the only place she ever truly belonged. She plans to transform the abandoned house into the perfect home of her memories. But she’ll have her work cut out for her.

AJ Sullivan never wanted the homestead. Inherited as a punishment from his grandfather, it has sat empty for fifteen years and fallen into ruin. He’s glad to finally unload it. But a clean break isn’t possible when he can’t get the young widow Shelby off his mind.

Welcome to Misty Willow, a place that will have as great a hold over the reader as it does over its inhabitants.

Read a free preview of Where She Belongs on BookGrabbr

Buy Johnnie's book on Amazon or Other Retailers

Connect with Johnnie:
Website/Blog ~ Facebook Author Page ~ Twitter ~ GoodReads ~ Amazon Author Page  ~ BookBub

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, March 24, 2018

Let Love Bloom: The Introduction

The Spring season is here and I'm simply delighted!

I love this season so much because of its natural beauty and hope of new beginnings. People often say that "love is in the air" every time Spring arrives and this year, I'd like to celebrate that with my blog's new series "Let Love Bloom".

This special series is designed to promote pure romance stories written by Christian authors.

Every Sunday from March 25 through June 17, I'll host a new author on my blog and they'll host a giveaway of their book that we're featuring on that day. So that means you'll have a chance to win their book and read it for free!

But the authors are doing more than giving away copies of their books! They're also visiting with us via author interviews, character interviews, devotionals based on the book, personal essays related to a theme in the book, along with book review and story excerpt features from their stories.

I hope that you will enjoy this and "Let Love Bloom" in your personal collection of books and in your real-life stories too!

Happy Spring 2018!



Friday, March 23, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Gail's thoughts on priorities

A devotional by Gail Kittleson

Luke tells many stories of healing. In Luke 5:12-16, Jesus heals a leper, but first, he astounds onlookers by touching the ill man’s skin. It was unheard of in that day to come close to a leper because his dread disease might become your affliction. People would think you had lost your mind.

Lepers, with fingers and toes that were often eaten away by their wasting disease, were cast out of the community, and even had to cry “Unclean!” when they traversed public places. No one approached one of them.

Well aware of these circumstances and societal rules, Jesus might have healed the leper from a distance away. He might have given the divine gift of health without coming in contact with the man. But He deliberately chose to contact him, skin-to-skin. We can only imagine how long it had been since the diseased man had felt human touch, or what Jesus’ action meant to him. We can imagine tears burning his eyes.

And what a message that touch proclaimed to those who were watching this scenario unfold! After the healing, Jesus instructed the healed man to present himself to the priest and offer a thank offering according to the law rather than spread the news of his healing verbally.

The Message Bible translates the result: “But the man couldn’t keep it to himself, and the word got out.” We can certainly understand that—this renewed health forever altered his life! The news resulted in more crowds seeking healing.

In storytelling, we aim for smooth transitions so the tale flows without a hitch such as sentences that seem out of place. I find them all the time when I’m editing. But in this story, Luke leaves in one glaring misfit.

Before he proceeds to describe the healing of a paraplegic, Luke writes, “As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.” Luke 5:16 (MSG) What does this have to do with the flow of his account?

Editing this chapter for smoothness, we’d have to remove this sentence. It would have to go because it clearly doesn’t fit the narrative.

But what would Jesus say about that decision? Something like, “Fit or not, those times away formed the foundation of my ministry—they were the source of my strength.”

My Prayer: Remind us today, Father, that we are never too busy, even with ministry, to seek You. Show us that whether times alone with You seem to fit into our lives or not, we need to withdraw to a quiet place with You and soak in Your mercy and love.

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, March 21, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Paula's thoughts on life and Proverbs

Just Life
A devotional by Paula Moldenhauer

"Hope that is put off makes one sick at heart. 
But a desire that is met is like a tree of life." 
~Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)

The birth of a child. I’ll never forget the first time. Even after seventeen hours of hard labor, little sleep, and an aching, postpartum body, I was alive (excited, strong, and full of joy) because I held in my arms the fulfillment of my dreams. I couldn’t wait to show off my little girl and couldn’t sleep for looking at her. I clutched her to my heart, singing to her. I held her when she nursed, when she slept, and when she awoke.

Perhaps the joy was more pronounced because of the months the dream was deferred. I’ll never forget the fear, disappointment, and even anger I felt each time I realized I wasn’t pregnant during the struggle to conceive that first baby.

Life is full of both the devastation of unrelenting disappointment and the wild joy of dreams coming true. Part of really living means allowing emotions on both ends of the spectrum.

One thing I love about hanging out with the elderly is their perspective on life. When my neighbor Bernice was almost eighty, we talked about life’s struggles. She pronounced in her no-nonsense Jewish, New-Yorker momma voice, “That’s just life, kid. We all have those times. Then they’re over.”

Bernice’s philosophy was based upon experience, but in it are echoes of the scripture which reminds us that weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).

My daughter, now a married woman, takes this concept a step further. She calls it living “in the and.” She’s learning not to stuff down the pain of life’s disappointments but at the same time to refuse to allow life’s struggles to steal the joy of living. Her words remind me of my own journey to cultivate joy. Today I had a beautiful lunch with a dear friend. She awaits test results on a serious health issue. It has her afraid and off-kilter. There were some teary moments. Yet in the midst of that pain and fear we savored a homemade meal and good conversation. We teased and joked, our laughter ringing from the kitchen. We nursed warm cups of blueberry green tea, pausing to breathe deeply of its sweet aroma.

We embraced the and, cultivating joy by acknowledging the beauty of life and entering into the glory of good food and fellowship without denying the struggle.

So, my friend, embrace life. Allow the seasons to ebb and flow. Cry when you need to. Laugh often. Dance in the rain when you can.

Live in the "and". 

And in the daily experience of real life, remember the One who loves you in all seasons. Cling to Love when it hurts. Welcome Him into the joy. God’s love is the one thing that we can always count on. As the Brad Paisley song says, love is never-ending.

My Prayer: Father, please help me to trust you in seasons of disappointment. When it feels overwhelming, I need your comfort and hope. Sometimes I need help believing joy comes in the morning, so hold me close and whisper this truth. When the crazy wonderful happens, help me believe it is real. Open my heart to enjoy every bit of the experience, and fill me with gratitude and praise. And while seasons come and seasons go, there is always the and. I want to be real in my struggles without allowing pain to steal away the beautiful moments that life offers. I want to always remember You and Your love no matter what is happening. Your love is never-ending.

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, You’re a Charmer Mr. Grinch, was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards, and she now has six published works of fiction. Her most recent release is included in A Bouquet of Brides

Paula and her husband, Jerry, are adjusting to a sometimes-empty nest in Colorado. They treasure time with their growing family of adult children, spouses, and spouses-to-be. Paula loves peppermint ice cream, going barefoot, and adventuring with friends. 

Today’s devotion was adapted from her devotional book, Soul Scents: Rooted. Visit her at

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Litfuse Publicity Group blog tour for "Grace Revealed" (book)

This is my last book review for Litfuse Publicity Group because they are closing their doors.

Sad news aside, I hope that you will enjoy this post about Fred Sievert's book Grace Revealed: Finding God's Strength in Any Crisis.

Discover the God who is present in our time of need and who delivers His unmerited gift of grace in His perfect timing in Fred Sievert’s new book, Grace Revealed. Whether you’re facing health problems, emotional issues, career challenges, gut-wrenching losses, or other failures, these experiences can destroy your morale and lead you into despair. Some crises may be a result of your own choices, while others may be completely out of your control. Whatever the source, there is a lasting solution that comes to you free of charge from above: God’s amazing grace. Read these undeniable, modern-day examples of God’s loving grace and its transformative power, and discover that God is always present in your time of need.

Trust in the unmerited gift of God’s grace
You can’t escape the inevitable crises that will face you throughout your lifetime. Whether it’s health problems, emotional issues, career challenges, gut-wrenching losses, or other failures, these experiences can destroy your morale and lead you into despair. Some crises may be a result of your own choices, while others may be completely out of your control. Whatever the source, there is a lasting solution that comes to you free of charge from above: God’s amazing grace.

In Grace Revealed, you will:
—Experience real-life stories of others who discover they are not alone and that relief is within their grasp.
—See how devastating afflictions can be overcome through faith in Jesus and His love, mercy, and grace.
—Learn how God’s grace transforms lives and leads you into enduring and rewarding Christian service.
—Be inspired to encourage others who are suffering but cannot seek help on their own.

Read these undeniable, modern-day examples of God’s loving grace and its transformative power, and discover that God is always present in your time of need.

Author Bio:
Fred Sievert is a speaker, author, and former president of New York Life Insurance Company. Following his early retirement at age fifty-nine, Sievert attended Yale Divinity School and received a master’s degree. 

Sievert remains actively engaged in his greatest passions, which include speaking and writing about his faith, mentoring young executives, and serving as a lay leader of his church and on the boards of several organizations with missions well-aligned with his beliefs and values. 

Fred and his wife have five grown children, three grandchildren, and reside in East Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Find out more about Fred at

Excerpts from Grace Revealed:

Teresa's Story: God Puts People in our Paths to lead us to Him

This book is not for the faint of heart.

It's a collection of real-life stories about real people who deal with deep pain in the forms of abuse, alcoholism and a myriad of other serious life-threatening situations.

However, the stories in this book are not without hope because the author shares how God's grace entered these stories and changed the people involved from the inside out.

The reader may be drawn into each person's story and find comfort in each person's unique testimony of how God helped them to rise above their circumstance and receive healing.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is going through a crisis or know someone who is in a crisis. It may be just what the doctored ordered to help them survive their darkest days.

*Litfuse Publicity Group provided me (Alexis A. Goring) with a complimentary copy of Grace Revealed: Finding God's Strength in Any Crisis. My opinions in this book review are my own.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Nanci's thoughts on Springtime and CPR

Springtime: God's CPR
A devotional by Nanci Rubin

"While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."~Genesis 8:22 (KJV)

In February, you’ll find me pouring through the Burpee seed catalogue in anticipation of spring planting as God makes preparation to perform CPR and revive the earth from its winter repose. Nothing excites me more than to see crocus as they emerge through the snow-covered earth and the unforgettable sweet aroma of lavender and pink Hyacinths heralding re-birth. Nature fulfilling God’s promise found in Genesis.

To me, gardening epitomizes seed time and harvest and brings scripture to life. After many years of planting my garden, I can safely say you reap what you sow. If I plant green beans, I don’t expect to harvest beets. It’s the same in our daily lives. What seed are you sowing? Envy? Strife? Mercy? Love? Forgiveness?

In spring, as the earth goes through re-birth, I am reminded of the ‘born-again’ experience. As my seedlings sprout, I remember what Jesus said in Matthew 13:4-8 about the sower sowing the seed.

“And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth, and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth. And when the sun was up, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprung up and chocked them. But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” ~Matthew 13:4-8 (KJV)

Interesting how the seed (Word) was sown in different types of soil. The soil makes all the difference in your garden. I cultivate the soil, add nutrients when needed. My seedlings without good soil won’t develop to their expected potential. It’s the same for us as new creations. God has called us. He has forgiven us, written His Word on our hearts and desires for us to grow. It is up to us to cultivate and guard the seed sown in our hearts.

After you’ve received Jesus in your heart, the enemy will come immediately to destroy that which has been sown. He’ll accuse you, remind you of your past, beat you down with his weapons of mass destruction, his attacks individualized as we tell him our fears. We talk too much. Social media has become the enemy’s new battleground.

Most of us have purchased indoor plants or outdoor scrubs. They all come with instructions on care, how we are to nourish them and keep them alive. God has done the same for us. He’s given us his instruction manual, His Word, the Bible. Read it. Let it water your soul, nourish your body and give you direction. It is the fertilizer you need to grow up in Him.

Last summer, I experienced an infestation of Japanese Beetles, of Biblical proportion. Nothing I used worked. I had to ‘hand pick’ every single one. It took me weeks. The beetle fiasco reminded me how we should never allow our hearts to become hardened and immune to the Word of God.

As I hand-picked those beetles, I thought about God’s Word and how much the enemy hates it. He desires to infest our minds with his lies, pulling at us so he can divert us from God’s plan. However, no matter what he says or does, the enemy can NEVER pluck you from God’s hand.

Your mistakes don’t cancel God’s plan in your life. He’s planted you in the orchard of His heart. You're the apple of His eye, and He loves you. Bloom where you’re planted.

Author Bio:
Nanci writes Inspy Amish romance. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two fur kids, Romeo and Juliet, rescue cats. She is working on her debut novel, Plain Justice

She retired earlier than planned from nursing to care for her mother, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Her mom passed last year at the age of ninety-nine and Nanci has delved more into her writing.

She is active in an intercessory prayer ministry in her church, belongs to The Woman’s Club, a service-oriented volunteer organization dedicated to the welfare and enrichment of the community and volunteers two days a week at the Mary Washington Museum.

Currently, she's enrolled in Rhema Bible College’s correspondence Bible studies. She belongs to ACFW and RWA. When she’s not working, reading or writing she’s hiking with her husband at Shenandoah National Park.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: God as your source of strength

Where Strength Is Found

A devotional by Shellie Arnold

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” 
~Isaiah 40:31 ESV

In August 2002, I was a homeschool mother of three (including one toddler), I worked part-time, and my husband commuted over an hour each way to work at a church that had seven services each weekend. I was pursuing a career writing and speaking on marriage and family issues. Busy doesn’t begin to describe my life.

I was also scheduled to have a much-needed surgery that included three procedures. I was nervous about that, and a bit unhappy about the recovery time involved, as well as the accompanying disruptions to life and schedule. Consequently, in the days leading to the surgery, I had trouble sleeping. I expressed as much to my doctor, and he prescribed something to help me sleep.

Unfortunately, I was highly allergic to that medication. After taking it, I had an anaphylactic reaction and almost died. My husband found me and called an ambulance, and I spent the rest of that night in the critical care area of our local emergency room.

That reaction fried something in my brain and left me with residual symptoms that increased over time. I experienced coordination issues, tremors in my hands, memory issues, and headaches. But the worst problem was intermittent paralysis on my right side. As days and weeks passed, my right side often looked like I’d just had a stroke—my right foot turned in, my right hand drawn up, my head falling over, mouth and eye drooping. Eventually, I had to take a medical leave from work, I could not drive, go to church, or do other normal life things to take care of my family. My career pursuits completely stopped.

To say I struggled with God during that time is an understatement. I could not reconcile a holy God who called me to write and speak, yet left me with a body that could not write or speak. Sitting in church while others sang around me, left me feeling hurt and abandoned.

As I sought God and He impressed upon me three things: Shellie, do not go to dark places inside. Do not tell yourself your life is over. Thank me for every breath.

With all my physical abilities nearly gone, I determined to be obedient to what I felt God saying in my spirit. And I decided if the only thing I could offer as a sacrifice to God was my attitude—not my writing or speaking or anything else—I was going to have the best attitude possible.

So, I waited for healing. I waited and waited, following what God had spoken to me, and maintaining the best attitude I could. Positive, hopeful, and thankful. And I learned the meaning of Isaiah 40:31.

It is in the waiting we find strength. Not when our needs are met. Not when we get relief from our burdens. Strength is found only when we wait on God. When we stay in His presence, listening for His voice, following His directives, and in total dependence on Him. That’s where strength is found.

God healed my brain on May 18, 2005, almost three years after the reaction. But I know it took more of God to carry me through those years than it did for Him to heal me. If I had not found strength in waiting on Him, I’m certain I would have lost hope, become bitter, and turned from Him.

I’m so thankful for this verse because it takes the pressure off. We don’t have to figure out the answers to our challenges. We don’t have to guess or figure out how God is going to take care of us. Rather, we simply have to wait in His presence with hopeful expectation as He does His work. Rest in Him, my friend, and find strength.

Author Bio:
Shellie Arnold is a writer and speaker on marriage and family. She truly believes—despite baggage, neglect, or mistakes—if a husband and wife listen to God, they can live happily ever after. Her passion is sharing how God is helping her do exactly that.

She maintains a blog at and is the founder of YOUR MARRIAGE resources. 

Shellie is a mother of three and has home-schooled for over twenty years. She lives in Ohio with her husband of thirty-one years.
Connect with Shellie:
Facebook -
Twitter -
Pinterest -
Website -

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: A relief for heavy burdens

When burdens are heavy…
A devotional by Melissa Henderson

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 
~Luke 22:42 NIV

Easter is quickly approaching. Preparations are being made in homes and in places of worship across the world. From Lenten services to special sermons to travel plans and more, many people are thinking about Easter. Some folks are planning family activities for Spring break from school. New outfits and shiny shoes are displayed in store windows. Candy and colorful baskets overflow store shelves. Others are thinking about a delicious meal to serve on Easter Sunday.

Yet, in all the rush and hurry to get everything just right, I pray we will remember the events surrounding Easter Sunday and the special glorious truth that Christ is Risen.

On the day and evening of Christ’s suffering and death, He endured more than we could ever bear and yet, He suffered for us, for our transgressions. The details given in the Bible are read over and over and each time our hearts break for what He experienced. Just imagining the pain and heartache overwhelms us.

Tears flow from our eyes as the story is read aloud. Thinking of the pain and anguish of His family and friends is heartbreaking. We watch movies depicting the events of His time on the cross and afterward.

Scripture tells us through all His suffering, Jesus knew God’s will was best. At the hardest point, Jesus asked His Father to take the cup from Him. He was asking God to take away the suffering if God was willing. Even while asking for the cup to be taken away, for the suffering to end, Jesus accepted God’s will, not His own.

How often do we beg God to take a heavy burden away? Do we fall on our knees and ask for His mercy? Are we ready to accept His answer? The answer to taking away the burdens from us might be yes, no, or not now. When prayers are not answered right away or the answer is something totally unexpected, how do we react? Do we say, “Thank You, God. Your will be done”? Or do we simply continue without considering His plan for us is always best? Think of a past time when the burden was heavy and the way out seemed impossible. How did you approach God?

When burdens are heavy and our hearts are sad, God is holding us in His loving arms. HIs mercies are new each day. Call to Him. He is waiting for you. God is waiting to comfort us during our burden filled times.

Let us remember through all our trials that God is an awesome God. His will is best is every circumstance, no matter what we are facing. If we are not happy with His answer, remember He loves us and He always has a plan for us. We may not know the plan and may never know the plan. We do know God is always with us. He loves us forever.

This Easter, share the love of God with family, friends, and strangers. You just might be lightening the burden of someone who is waiting for the answer.

Christ is Risen!

Author Bio:
Melissa Henderson and her husband Alan live in South Carolina.

Married for over 38 years, they have one son (Mike) who is married to daughter-in-love (Christine) and now are blessed by precious grandson (Rowan).

Melissa was taught the love of reading and writing at an early age from her parents. She is now working on her first inspirational fiction novel.

Her passions are volunteering, Bible Studies and reading and writing. Connect with Melissa online,

Monday, March 12, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Tammy's thoughts on technology and disconnect

How Can We Be So Disconnected in Such a Connected World?
A devotional by Tammy Karasek

I wonder if any of us ever give much thought to how many ways we are connected to people these days. Think about it. To check in with friends or family, we are able to walk or drive, to call or at least send a text, write a note or send an email. It’s enough to make you dizzy thinking of the many ways we can reach out and connect.

Yet sometimes, even though we can do something, it doesn’t always mean we do. I’m guilty of this. Often someone will come to my mind and I’ll think Oh, I need to call her. I’ll continue with the task at hand because I don’t have time to talk at that moment. I plan to send her an email when I finish what I’m doing. Then I move to the next task and head out the door for an errand. As I back out of the driveway, I remember and tell myself I’ll do it tonight when I get back home.

But I don’t remember.

Recently, I felt overwhelmed with all the “doing” I was attempting and never quite feeling like I had accomplished a thing. It was as if every time I crossed one thing off of my to-do list, three were added before the ink was dry. I kept meaning to slow down and reconnect with friends. Really, I did.

The days continued on and I noticed God putting the same scripture verse in front of my eyes, and in places where I didn’t expect. Whether written on a painting, a sermon on the radio or even someone sharing it at Bible study.

“A friend loves at all times." ~Proverbs 17:17a (NASB)

Time went on and it became more and more evident that God was working hard to get my attention. There was no way I was going to be able to ignore God’s promptings. People I wanted to connect with kept coming to my mind. I was so hooked on my electronic gizmos and gadgets and the many things commanding my attention on those screens that I was missing an important fact. I was so busy being connected to the world I’d become disconnected with my friends and family. How could I say I love them at all times when I wasn’t making them a priority?

It’s amazing how electronically connected we are to people all over the world. But how many of us are paying attention to those around us who are quietly crying out for just a few minutes of our time. We spend hours on our screens, but we no longer sit across the table from a hurting friend over a cup of tea or at least check in with them regularly. Do we add a friend’s name to our daily to-do list to check in on them? People are hurting all around us. I’ve heard others’ say, "I don’t know what to say, and I don’t understand what they are going through." Who says we have to say anything or understand the situation? A card in the mail is great, but your presence is even better.

I’ve been quite convicted of this recently. I hope you will give this some thought about the people you are connected to as well. Is there someone God keeps bringing to mind? Trust Him, there’s probably a reason for it. In our overly connected world, they may be feeling very disconnected.

Step out of your comfort zone and give them a call. Maybe they are craving some time with you. You may find it did you some good, too.

Author Bio:
You’ll find Tammy seeing humor and causing laughter in every aspect of life. Tammy’s past filled with bullying and criticism is the driving force of her passion to always encourage others and share with them the Reason to smile. 

She’s been blissfully wedded to her college sweetheart, Larry, for 36 years, mom to their grown daughter, Kristen and wrapped around the paw of a little puppy named Hattie.

She’s the President of Cross N Pens Christian Writers and a member of ACFW. She will be published in the 2018 Divine Moments book – Cool-nary Moments.
Connect with Tammy:
Blog -
Twitter -
Email -

Friday, March 9, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Jesus Christ as The Lion and the Lamb

The Lion and the Lamb
A devotional by Sara L. Foust

"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." ~ Matthew 28:18 (KJV) 

"And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!" 
~John 1:36 (KJV) 

Spring is coming! I’m so excited. I often joke that I am really a lizard. I miss the sun when it is cold and wet all winter. And as soon as it starts to warm up, I am outside soaking in all that glorious Vitamin D.

I love the way the winds blow spring into East Tennessee. Like with each gust, it is pulling spring from the other side of the world, bringing it to us in warm breaths. Wrapped up in the power of those winds, I find myself looking to the Creator and each spring being in awe of His amazing creation. The tiny stems of life that sprout from the ground and in the nests in the trees never cease to amaze me.

Each March I think of the old saying, “In like a lion, out like a lamb.” March here is often unpredictable. Sometimes warmth creeps in early. Sometimes late. Sometimes early warmth fools us into thinking spring is here and we get slammed with a late snowstorm. (Like the blizzard of ’93, which, if you lived through it, you still talk about like it is a big deal 25 years later, because nothing has happened like it since.) In the middle of these unpredictable changes, I am reminded of my Savior, whose perfect sacrifice was enough to cleanse me from my sins. Not because He changes, but because He changed me. That He willingly laid His life down for me is humbling, to say the least. I am not worthy of that kind of sacrifice. There’s nothing I could ever do to earn it. Yet, He offered himself as a lamb on a pain-filled cross altar for me. Never had a more perfect sacrifice been found. Never will it be found again.

Now He protects me with his lion-like majesty and power, watching over me, guarding me, guiding me each step I take. Protecting my soul from harm and lending His power as a blanket over me.

Thank God, Jesus was that perfect sacrificial lamb! Thank God He loved me enough to suffer and die! And that He continues to love me enough to get me through each and every day. To bring me to another beautiful spring. To let me witness daily the incredible intricacies of His creation.

Have you heard this song, Big Daddy Weave, “The Lion and the Lamb”? It’s such a beautiful expression of Jesus’s twofold ability to be both the lion and the lamb. To both save and protect, humble and make strong. I am so thankful that God is able to be everything I need. 

Aren’t you?

Author Bio:
Sara writes Inspirational Romantic Suspense from a mini-farm in East Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and their five homeschooled children. 

She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Tennessee Mountain Writers. Her debut novel, Callum's Compass, won second place in Deep River Books' 2017 Writer's Contest. She also has a story, “Leap of Faith,” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Sara finds inspiration in her faith, her family, and the beauty of nature. When she isn’t writing, you can find her reading, camping, and spending time outdoors with her family. To learn more about her and her work or to become a part of her email friend’s group, please visit