Sunday, September 30, 2018

Falling for Books: Barbara's book

A Ringtone For God
A devotional by Barbara M. Britton

Many years ago, I purchased a smart phone. It sat in its perch and didn’t see much use. Then, my kids grew up and preferred that I text them reminders instead of calling them the traditional way. A family member became deaf, so community texting was invaluable for communication. And, I became an author and the expectation was that I be on several social media outlets and actively check for responsive readers. Needless to say, my phone didn’t sit in its perch very much anymore. My phone travels most everywhere I do. Does this sound familiar?

I thought about comparing the time I spent on my smart phone to the time I spent with God. Was I more focused on technology or God? I think the answer would be humbling. Technology isn’t going away, but what if I could use it as a reminder to focus on God and use it as a light for the world? What if…

First thing every morning when I picked up my phone to communicate with an elderly family member, I thanked God for a new day. I’m a cancer survivor and tomorrow is always a blessing.

I’ve never taken a selfie because at my age who wants a close up of your face? If I did take a picture of myself, could I wear a cross? Show a Scripture verse or the Bible? Hold up a Christian music CD? What if I showcased my Creator and His beautiful world instead of my features?

After texting with a friend or family member, could I pray for something specific for them? I Thessalonians 5:17 says, “pray continually.” If I prayed for the people who texted me and commented on my social media, my prayer time would skyrocket. What if I chose the first three every day?

Sometimes, I have to admit, all the dings and hums stress me out. People want my attention. How much more does God seek my attention? What if I set an imaginary ringtone for God? I hear a ding, and I remember my Savior. I could praise God that I can hear the noise? I can praise God I have community. I can praise God I have a computer at my fingertips. I can pray and ask God for wisdom on how best to use this little computer.

1 John 5:21 says, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” How wonderful it would be if more people focused on growing their faith than scanning friend’s vacation photos on Facebook.

We serve an awesome God who gave Man the ability to create computers, smart phones, emojis, hashtag movements and the list goes on and on. Let’s shift our focus from the created to the Creator and remember to abide in Jesus. We can even change our ringtones to shine the light of Jesus.

What ringtone would help you remember all that God has done for you?

I’ll take “Jesus Paid It All.”

Author Bio:

Barbara M. Britton lives in Wisconsin and writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. 

She has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. 

Barb brings little known Bible characters to light in her Tribes of Israel series. Her latest book brings to light the story of Nehemiah and how this man of prayer rebuilt Jerusalem’s wall with the help of the daughters of Shallum. 

You can find out about Barb’s books on her website, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Book blurb for Barbara's book, Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey:

When Adah bat Shallum finds the governor of Judah weeping over the crumbling wall of Jerusalem, she learns the reason for Nehemiah’s unexpected visit—God has called him to rebuild the wall around the City of David.

Nehemiah challenges the men of Jerusalem to labor on the wall and in return, the names of their fathers will be written in the annals for future generations to cherish. But Adah has one sister and no brothers. Should her father who rules a half-district of Jerusalem be forgotten forever?

Adah bravely vows to rebuild her city’s wall, though she soon discovers that Jerusalem not only has enemies outside of the city, but also within. Can Adah, her sister, and the men they love, honor God’s call? Or will their mission be crushed by the same rocks they hope to raise.

Buy Jereusalem Rising on Amazon, B&N, CBD, or
 ask your library to order it and shine a light on God’s stories.

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:

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Friday, September 28, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Seasons

Changing Seasons

A devotional by Gail Kittleson

This month is a favorite of many in the Midwest because it marks the gradual transformation from the Summer season to Autumn. As the temperature drops, the barest tinge of gold touches the leaves’ edges. A few days later, we see some leaves already fallen to the earth. But there’s much more color to come—oranges and reds and golds...oh my!

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, they say, and we can find glories in every season, but it’s hard to top walking through crunchy leaves in a fall landscape, with even more overhead, still clinging to their warm-weather home.

Autumn makes some people sad because it beckons us to winter’s inevitable cold. In my youth, I felt this way, but the decades have brought me to pronounce fall my favorite season.

Once it’s cool enough to delete all annoying, biting, stinging insects, we can relax and enjoy golden days still warm enough to spend lots of time outdoors.

We often hear midlife compared with autumn. In those years after our children have left home and we turn to other pursuits, we no longer carry the “baggage” of our youth and leave much of the trivial behind us. We know winter’s bound to arrive, we have a better idea of who we are and what to expect of life. Now, we can let go of our efforts to control, and give ourselves to the tasks we still believe worthwhile.

All this is because we’ve come to deeply believe the message of Romans 8:3-4 (MSG) which says, "God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that. The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us."

Instead of redoubling our efforts, we simply embrace what the Holy Spirit is doing in us. This bears repeating because it’s so easily verbalized, but so very, very difficult to do. Some call it “let go and let God.”

But for many of us, it takes a lifetime to accomplish. Such a challenge, setting aside our work ethic, our desire to be in charge, and our intention to change everyone around us.

Ah, but Autumn often brings relief, and so do the middle years, when we finally accept our human limitations, but also the unlimited potential of placing God truly in the center of our lives.

Yes, our leaves may fade and fray, and one day fall to the earth, but in the meantime, there’s a glorious display of brilliant hues.

One day, we turn fifty. Then all of a sudden, sixty. And onward...

But it’s okay. Winter has its own beauty to offer, and through it all, our God has promised to remain with us.

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, September 26, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Light

Be the Light
A devotional by Ginger Solomon

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” 
–Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)

Light. A simple term for a complex word. The dictionary defines it this way: “something that makes things visible or affords illumination.”

Khan Academy says this about it, “All we see is light. Your face in the mirror, the trees on your street, that donut in the bakery window—you can see them because light bounces off of them and enters your eyes. Our eyes are designed to detect light and analyze the information it carries about the world around us.”

Did you know darkness cannot overcome light? It doesn’t matter how dark it is, light always shines forth. Even when we can’t see the sun, it still shines. The light may be blocked for a time, but it still exists.

I think that’s why WE are the light of the world. We are not called to it. It is part of who we are.

Just like a candle or a flashlight, we need to shine where we’re placed. Our job is to illuminate the darkness—to chase it back.

But what if we don’t do our jobs?

What if a candle loses its flame or a flashlight runs out of batteries? They are no longer useful—unless you relight the candle or replace the batteries.

What if your light has gone out?

Well, we know the ultimate source of power—God. Seek Him. Matthew 6:33 (NLT) tells us, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
 1 Cor. 4:20 (NLT) tells us, “For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God's power.”

We have to “plug in” to the true source of power, and when we do, He will supply what we need to do the work He has called us to do.

As I was working on this post, an OLD song came to mind. It came out in 1995, but I think it’s even more apropos to today’s world. I hope you don’t mind. It’s a song by Kathy Troccoli called “Go Light Your World.”

If we all allow our lights to shine for Jesus, what a difference we could make in this dark world. I encourage you to think about it. I sure have been.

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, September 24, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: How to fight worry and win!

Don’t Worry
A devotional by Dana McNeely

Why do we worry? Do we not believe that God will take care of us?

If you worry, you're not alone. Bible characters worried too, even the best of them like God's prophet Elijah.

The Messenger of Doom

When Queen Jezebel heard all her prophets were dead, she flew into a rage. She sent this message (paraphrase mine) to the prophet Elijah, who had ordered them killed: “We’ll see about that! By this time tomorrow, your body will rot in the sun, just like theirs!”

Elijah fled the city, afraid of a woman.

He ran, as if he weren’t the servant of the living God, as if there were no proof of the Lord’s power. Think back. The previous day, at Elijah’s request, God dramatically sent fire and rain from heaven, ending a three-year drought. Such a victory! Had Elijah forgotten how God raised the widow’s son from the dead? Didn’t Elijah remember the never empty jars of oil and flour? Was being fed by ravens in the desert such a small miracle?

The queen was a formidable enemy, no doubt. Elijah was likely exhausted, mentally and physically from the events of the previous weeks. The messenger of doom made him forget, for a time, everything he’d been shown about the Lord’s powerful love.

Confession: The messenger of doom visits me more often than I like to admit. I struggle with worry, which falls into the general categories of family, friends, my job, my writing, things past, and things to come. I even worry about worrying, because a Christian shouldn’t worry, right?

Saturate Yourself With Truth

Whether I should or shouldn’t, I worry too often. I think the Bible includes stories of great believers who fell victim to worry to encourage us. Elijah’s ministry continued, God gave him a successor, and later he was taken to heaven in a fiery chariot.

We can tell the messenger, “Just because the thought exists doesn’t make it true. The Lord is the source of all truth.” He has said much to conquer our fears in his word. This month as I searched the scriptures, these verses spoke to me. I found it helped me to write the verses and the thoughts I had that day in a notebook.

The Foundation

John 3:16 (NKJV) says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

‘So’ is a big little word. I am so loved by God! You are so loved! This is a wonderful truth to dispel worry: we are so loved by God and we are offered the gift of everlasting life. I have believed in him and have everlasting life. Have you? I hope so!

Psalm 28:7 (NLT) says, “The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”

This verse reminds me of the many times God has helped me. The time he healed a sick friend, protected me from a bad accident, and removed a problem at work. And music lifts my soul! I sing and sometimes I strum my ukulele.

Romans 12:12,13 (NLT) says, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”

Prayer is the great elixir. As I read the rest of Romans 13, I found a long list of actions to take, actions that would take me outside of myself and keep me too busy to worry: Bless those who persecute you, rejoice with those who are happy, weep with those who weep, live in harmony with others, don’t be a know-it-all, live an honorable life.

The Big Picture

John 14:1, 27 (NLT) says, “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am … I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

So many worries become insignificant when I meditate on the Shepherd’s words. I fix my heart on the big picture. The day will come when all earthly troubles will end and I’ll be with him forever. And for now, He offers peace of mind and heart.

It’s your turn:
Here in the comments, please share verses you turn to for help. I’d love to hear your thoughts and strategies to fight worry. I’ll be dropping by today and the rest of the week to chat.

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, September 23, 2018

Falling for Books: Betsy's book

Interview with Betsy St. Amant about her story, "Save the Last Word":

Why did you name this story “Save the Last Word?”

The title came to me before the plot did, actually! I thought it was fun and interesting and fit perfectly with an “always have to have the last word” type of personality in the hero…AND heroine!

Alexis: Describe the heroine of your story, Zoe Armand. What makes her a free spirit and why has she never been conventional?

Betsy: Zoe marches to the beat of her own drum, partially because she was just created that way and partially because she doesn’t want to be like her overbearing, always-in-the-box parents. She’s more free style, and she’s happy that way. However, she’s not a slacker or lazy. She’s very compassionate, giving, generous and a go-getter in her own ways—she’s just not typical.

Alexis: Why does Zoe like to blaze her own trail in life and why do her parents who are all about reputation, disapprove of the way she lives?

Betsy: Zoe and her parents definitely clash. She isn’t rebellious about it, but rather, wishes they would just accept her as she is. She struggles with feeling like she’s never good enough for their standards and gets caught up briefly in trying to prove her worth to them. Zoe’s parents, mostly her mom, are embarrassed at her unconventional-ness, as they are pillars of the community and are all about image. They have some lessons to learn, too.

Alexis: Memory sounds like quite the small and whimsical town in Kansas! Did you make this place up? If so, paint a picture of it with words.

Betsy: I did invent it myself! I pictured it with a bit of a Gilmore Girls Stars Hollow vibe, of course, since I can’t help it because that’s my favorite show! But also it was just important to me to establish community and small-town camaraderie…one of those “everyone knows your name” type small-towns where Ms. Marshall was dearly beloved, all the kids knew other growing up, etc. I love that you use the word “whimsical” because that’s what I was going for.

Describe the hero of your story, Ben Marshall. What is his real passion in life? Talk about his dreams and goals for his future.

Betsy: Ben is the opposite in Zoe in many ways, but is actually more like her deep down than he realizes! They say opposites attract, and that’s a fact for Ben and Zoe. Ben is more straight-laced, by the book, and hard-working in the typical sense. However, he has a secret he’s keeping from his father—and by default, everyone else—that’s important to him and drives everything he does. Ben is a good man, hence why he doesn’t want to buck against his dad and family expectations, but is struggling to balance that with living out his real passions and dreams. To find out what his dream is, you gotta read the story!

Why is Ben’s father pressuring him to commit to being the vice president of their family business?

Betsy: Ben’s father wants him to take over, partly because of passing on the family legacy, but also because of image and control. Much like Zoe’s parents, reputation is everything to Ben’s dad. He’s a workaholic and expects Ben to be the carbon copy of himself.

Alexis: How do Ben and Zoe meet in this story? What are their first impressions?

Betsy: They meet at Ms. Marshalls’ apartment when Zoe comes to borrow sprinkles. It’s a really fun, comedy-of-errors type beginning that I just love! You’ll have to read the story to find out more.

Alexis: In what ways does Zoe both fascinate and bewilder Ben? Why?

Betsy: Ben is bewildered by Zoe because of how different she is than him—but at the same time, he’s fascinated by her because she calls to something deeper in him that he’s yet to realize about himself. She brings out the best of him and makes him address his worst, and vice versa.

Alexis: What is it about Ben that starts a fire in Zoe’s heart?

Betsy: Zoe has always liked Ben—even when they were little kids on the playground. She’s been attracted to him since day one!

Alexis: If you were a mutual friend of Ben and Zoe, what would you advise when it comes to the decisions they both have to make?

Betsy: I’d advise them both to stay true to themselves, and follow the wisdom and direction of the Lord that’s so obvious to us as readers from the outside-looking-in, but harder to see clearly when it’s YOUR life. I think we all need that reminder! Sometimes we think decisions are very hard to make, when the right path is very clear all along. We tend to make things more complicated than they are, am I right?

Alexis: As the author, what was your favorite part of writing this story? Why?

I loved writing the more comedic scenes, be it at the nursing home with the elderly patrons or the interactions and misunderstandings between Ben and Zoe. It was a fun novella to write, for sure!

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Betsy! Do you have closing comments?

Thanks for interviewing me, and for reading Save the Last Word, part of the Once Upon a Laugh box set! It was such an honor to be in a compilation with seven other talented authors.

Author Bio:

Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of fifteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. 

She resides in north Louisiana with her newlywed hubby, two story-telling young daughters, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. 

Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. 

When she's not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. 

She blogs frequently at, a devotional site for women. Visit her at

Blurb for Betsy's book "Save the Last Word":

Free-spirited Zoe Armand has never been conventional. From her multitude of odd-jobs to her bad luck in romance, Zoe blazes her own trail—despite the disapproval of her own reputation-obsessed parents.

Straight-laced Ben Marshall is back in Memory, Kansas to pack up his Nonny’s apartment after she’s moved into a nursing home. It’s the perfect opportunity to work on his real passion—his secret blog—and avoid his father’s pressure to commit to VP in the family business.

When Zoe is hired to paint a mural in the nursing home, she’s excited for the excuse to hang out with her former neighbor, Ms. Marshall. When she runs into Ben, she discovers her childhood crush never went away. She’s determined to prove herself to her parents and earn Ben’s affection—but a comedy of errors, a secret identity, and a desire to have the last word threatens to keep them apart.

Ben must choose between the chance to win his freedom from his father, and protect the heart of the woman who equally fascinates and bewilders him. Will Zoe and Ben find a way around the obstacles blocking true love? Or will Ben’s brief stay in Memory be the last word for them both?

Buy Once Upon A Laugh: Eight Novellas filled with Laughter and Happily-Ever-After (box set containing Betsy's story "Save the Last Word") on Amazon.

Connect with Betsy:

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: 

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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Falling for Books: The Introduction

Dear Blog Readers,

Starting tomorrow (Sept. 23) the Fall Season will arrive in the United States! 

It's time for sweet potato or pumpkin pie, caramel apple cider, pumpkin spice lattes (though I've never had one, my friends with a Starbucks habit look forward to it every year) and plenty of beautiful backgrounds for photography opportunities if you live in an area where the tree leaves change into vibrant colors of red, orange and yellow! I love the Autumn/Fall season weather because of its sunny days, cool breezes, crisp air, and perfection everywhere!

In celebration of this delightful season, I'm starting a new series on my blog for Fall 2018. The series is called "Falling for Books" and it's going to be AWESOME!  

Every Sunday in Fall 2018 (from Sept. 23 to Dec. 16), you'll find a new Christian author who's visiting to talk about their book in a variety of special features that include author interviews, character interviews, devotionals based on their book, personal essays about the fall season and how it ties into their book's message or theme, book reviews and story excerpts!

By now you must know that Contemporary Romance is my favorite genre to promote on my blog but there's also room this Fall season for historicals, romantic suspense and women's fiction stories to be featured here on my blog. You should also know that the authors who visit my blog love to give away free copies of the books that we feature here! Yes, book giveaway contests are a part of this "Falling for Books" series. Happiness for your heart, right? 

So grab your favorite fall beverage, go to your favorite reading nook and soak in these fun features on my blog!


Founder of God is Love (blog)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Changes

He’s the same yesterday, today and forever!
A devotional by Susan Lindstrom

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” 
–Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)


They’re inevitable.

Seasons, births, deaths, employment, plans…

Changes have occurred all over my state of Wisconsin this summer from severe thunderstorms and more than we needed rain. Rivers swelled and spilled over, flooding homes, closing roads, bridges and hillsides washed away. The end of August brought over 16 tornadoes that ravaged the land altering the landscape of our beautiful state!

My yard is waterlogged and our pipes are full again, but we fared better than many as we only had one big old tree split in half and fall out in the middle of the yard. So thankful it wasn’t near our house! It changed the layout of our lawn but it’s okay, it will be a great spot for the burning pit we’ve wanted for years.

Friends of ours didn’t fare so well, they were traveling hundreds of miles from home and parked in a friend’s driveway then a tree fell smashing their car. That changed their plans for sure.

The coming of Labor Day signals change; the coming of glorious fall, time to start Christmas shopping (I like to get it done early), back to school, off to college or like our family, to school for the first time and yes there were tears in both moms and kiddos.

The biggest change in our lives though is the recent loss of my mother-in-law, a loving member of our family. It’s just been a month so it’s still heartache fresh. Especially for my husband as he experienced his first birthday ever without his sweet mama singing happy birthday to him.

It’s one of the more difficult changes.

I think we often fear change because we don’t feel in control. But what if we trusted in Our Loving Heavenly Father and allowed the change to grow us, trusting that He’s in control of the change?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

We can take great comfort in knowing that God is the one constant, the only thing in our lives that never, ever changes as Hebrews 13:8 (NLT) tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

I say Amen to that!

I saw this on Facebook last year, it was posted from an old newspaper clipping so I don’t know who to give credit, but I like how it talks of change…


I asked God to take away my bad habit,
He said no.
It’s not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole,
He said no.
His spirit is whole, his body is only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience,
He said no.
Patience is a byproduct of tribulations, it isn’t granted, it’s learned.

I asked God to give me happiness,
He said no.
I give you blessings, happiness is up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain,
He said no.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow,
He said no.
You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked God for all things that I may enjoy life,
He said no.
I give you life that you may enjoy all things.

I asked God to help me love others as much as He loves me,
God said Ahhhh, finally you get the idea.

“Three things will last forever — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love.”
—1 Corinthians 13:13 (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:
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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Storms


A devotional by Paula Moldenhauer

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.” 
~Psalm 107:28–31 (NIV)

Sometimes storms come with angry fury. Wind-whipped tree branches are forced to the ground, majestic bows bending; beautiful leaves shredded and flung into the sky. Hail pelts, bruising flowers and crushing tender plants. Living, breathing creatures cower wherever shelter is found. Trembling, they seek safety.

Other storm systems are quieter but no less incessant. Snow falls for hours; hours stretch to days. Gray-white clouds hide the sun, the stars. The storm is relentless, but silent, ever falling, covering the world beneath, burying any sign of life. Sometimes its weight presses upon barren limbs, piling upon them until the strong trees crack underneath the cold, white mound. And the living huddle anywhere warmth can be found. They eye their reserves, hoping they have enough to outlast the ever falling, quietly swirling powder.

The storms in our life have different names: Illness, relationships, finances, grief, wounds, overwhelming busyness . . . the list goes on. Sometimes they attack with a fury that leaves us trembling and breathless. Other times they linger indefinitely, demanding fortitude and perseverance beyond our comprehension.

But always storms make us cry for a safe place.

The Bible tells about a time Paul, traveling by ship, faced a wind of typhoon strength. “The terrible storm raged unabated for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone.” –Acts 27:20 (NLT)

The storm was frightening, and it was long. The sailors gave up on their lives. But God sent an angel to Paul to tell him not to be afraid—that God’s plans for him required his life be spared.

Paul also faced a long, silent storm. He called it his thorn in the flesh and asked three times that God take it away. But God didn’t. He simply told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9a, NKJV).

These stories remind me of something I heard from Max Lucado. He said everything that comes our way is first sifted through the Lord’s hands—and that we should submit to God’s Lordship in our life, even in the storms.

At one level I understand this—even feel protected by it. But when something really hurts, I feel I’ve gotten the raw end of the deal.

Why does He allow such pain?

In the long run, I always come back to the same truth. Though I don’t understand why bad stuff happens, I don’t want to walk through a gale force wind without my Father. I can question His love and His wisdom or embrace the truth: God is love. God is wisdom.

God has our eternal good in mind at all times. His love is ever present, always available and abounding to us. He is there when we cry out to Him.

Sometimes our God rescues us from the storm. I’m comforted by Psalm 107:28 (CEV): “You were in serious trouble, but you prayed to the Lord, and he rescued you.

He made the storm stop and the sea be quiet. You were happy because of this, and he brought you to the port where you wanted to go.”

Other times the storm continues, unabated, and He whispers, as He did to Paul, “My kindness is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” ~2 Corinthians 12:9a (CEV). No matter how hard a storm rages or how long it lasts, our Safe Place is always the same: the Father’s arms. Snuggled there our heart is at rest.

My Prayer: Precious Jesus, when it fits Your perfect plan, I ask that You still the storm. When in Your wisdom You allow a storm, focus my mind and emotions on your sufficient grace. Give me new understanding to see and respond to my situation from Your perspective. Empower me to rest in Your arms and to live in Your peace that passes understanding.

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

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

Join Paula in Denver at the Whole and Free Women’s Conference September 28 and September 29. Register here (by Sept. 27)!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Strongholds

Pulling down Strongholds

A devotional by Nanci Rubin

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
–2 Cor. 10:4-5 (KJV)

The above Scripture speaks of THOUGHTS!

These thoughts are STRONGHOLDS! 

They produce IMAGINATIONS!

Then come fear and torment, sickness and defeat!

The battlefield is the THOUGHT LIFE. 

The Christian is the enemy of Satan. The devil wants to defeat us by deception. He wants to keep us from the truth, for he knows that the Truth will set us free.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times the enemy has lied to me, and I bet he’s lied to you also. The biggies are, “You’re no good.” “You are not saved.” “You’re not going to make Heaven.” “Your children are going to hell.” “No one appreciates you.” “Your husband doesn’t love you anymore.” “You have cancer.”

These thoughts bring fear. Thousands of lies are offered to your mind. When you accept them as your own, you begin to say with your mouth what the enemy has said to your mind. We have to bring every thought into the captivity of Christ. We must remember that life and death are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21)

When you repeat out loud, the lies Satan gives you in thoughts, you become fearful and live in torment. You are defeated before you even begin. Self-confidence is eroded, and an apathetic persona robs you of your energy. You feel trapped and unable to escape. A lie seeded in your mind.

Accept God’s thoughts and promises and repeat them out loud in faith. It brings peace to your heart. My dear mother used to take index cards and write scripture on each one and posted them on her refrigerator. Every morning she read them out loud. She placed God’s word in her mind, not what our enemy would like for us to confess. Hold up your Bible and look at it. Contained therein are the thoughts of God! Live in the pages. Replace every thought the enemy gives you with one of God’s thoughts. For every lie, the enemy whispers you must stand tall and counter it with the Word of God. When you do, he will have to flee.

“Submit yourselves therefore, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
–James 4:7 (KJV)

There is supernatural power in God’s Word. I was put to the test several years ago when I stayed with my brother after his surgery. I knew in my spirit my brother was waging a war, and if I didn’t stand in the gap right then he would die. I prayed all night, walked the floor and quoted every scripture I knew over and over. I felt such power from God’s Word. I knew in the spiritual realm my voice was heard. I was living John 7:38 (KJV), “He that believeth in me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” I could feel living water rise within as I interceded for my brother.

Remember the battleground is in the mind, and the devil desires to infuse your thought life with his lies. Lies to beat you down, give you fear and doubt. He has perfected his subtle ways through eons of time. You see, his primary approach is to attack our minds. He wants us to accept and act upon it.

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and defile the man.” –Matthew 15:18 (KJV)

God was very specific when he stated in scripture for us to guard our hearts, being careful about what we see and hear and speak. We can’t allow our senses to become garbage receptacles and dump just anything in there.

You can alter your condition and atmosphere by changing your thought life. Concentrate on God’s great unchanging promises. You cannot sow seed thoughts of sickness and live in an atmosphere of health. You have to see yourself as a conqueror before you have the victory. Take baby steps. Find the scriptures that surround your area of need. Meditate on them and trust God. 

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7a (KJV)

Calvary made a way. The Blood of Jesus is the key to every issue we have in life. See yourself as an overcomer. If you do, you’ll have victory over every circumstance. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we want but allowing our Savior access and seeking him first will guarantee peaceful resolve. 

Be alert to your enemy and don’t let your guard down. 

Stay prayed up, suited up and ready for a battle. 

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.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Summer Stories: A Home for Fritz

Character Interview with Brooke Cantrell of A Home for Fritz:

Alexis: Thanks for visiting my blog today, Brooke! How have your childhood memories of loss affected your outlook on life?

Brooke: Thanks for inviting me to your blog today, Alexis. I'm always glad to talk about my life in hopes I can encourage someone else. Since I lost my mother as a child and my dad as a teen, I think I missed out on having the security and love a family can offer. Though I hate to admit it, I wanted to live in a fairytale world and pretend to be someone else when I visited Sunlight Peaks Guest Ranch, if only for nine days. That desire trumped my sense of right and wrong. I'm afraid I lied about who I really was.

Alexis: Would you say that your author June Foster gave you a Cinderella-style story? Why or why not?

Brooke: My daddy used to read that story to me every night when I was a child. At first, I thought I would feel like Cinderella when I went to the ranch, but I soon found out I was wrong. Lying is never right, and I believe people will always be caught in their lies. At least that's what happened to me. Since I'm a Christian, I think the Lord convicted me right from the first.

Alexis: Why did you want to pretend to be Regina’s sister, part of a wealthy family?

Brooke: This is hard to talk about, and I'm a little embarrassed. Since I went to work for the Radcliffe's, I've cleaned the downstairs of their mansion six days a week. I've catered to Regina and seen how she lives. Hair appointments, shopping excursions, fancy spas, vacations. To be honest, I was envious of her and thought that if I could just be her "sister" for a week or so, I would get a taste of her life.

Alexis: How did your charade as a wealthy woman affect your relationship with Garrett?

Brooke: I never thought I'd meet a guy like Garrett—a man who loves God and also has a precious golden doodle. Each time I lied to him, conviction felt like battery acid in my stomach. I believed that if he ever found out who I really am, he wouldn't want anything to do with me. All in all, my falsehood stood between us.

Alexis: What was the most difficult part of keeping this secret from Garrett?

Brooke: I cringed every time I realized I was deceiving him. My feelings for him grew and my conscience pricked me for misrepresenting myself.

Alexis: When you first met Garrett, what did you like about him? Why?

Brooke: Well, if you must know, I thought he was the best looking guy I'd ever met. Besides he was a wrangler on a dude ranch, and he owned an adorable dog. Later, I realized there was more to his character than I first observed.

Alexis: Is there anything that you do not like about Garrett? Explain.

Brooke: One day when we chatted by the corral, Garrett got a phone call and said something I didn't understand. He said, "Yes, this is Andrew." At first, I didn't think anything about it then later I discovered some information in Garrett's college yearbook that made me suspicious he wasn't telling me everything about himself. But then, I was doing the same.

Alexis: Tell me about your family background. Were you always poor?

Brooke: Yes. My dad owned a bakery when I was a child and a teen. He worked hard but didn't see the profits he'd hoped. I never went hungry, though, and I even had a golden doddle, too. I guess that's one reason why I love Garrett's dog so much.

Alexis: How did your upbringing and struggles help you decide what you wanted for your own future as an adult?

Brooke: I always wanted to own a bakery like my dad—to walk in his footsteps and carry on his memory. But I never had the funds to get started.

Alexis: You’re a city girl. How would you describe your experience in the country?

Brooke: It was crazy. I went on a cattle drive to the Big Horns with several guests and the wranglers. Each summer, they to take cattle up into the mountains to pasture. Unfortunately, I'm not an expert rider and fell off my horse. But it really wasn't all my fault. I loved the wide open spaces and fresh air. I could turn into a country girl really quick.

Alexis: What was your most memorable experience with Garrett? Why?

Brooke: Is my face red right now? Okay, since you asked, I'll tell you. Garrett and I took a four-wheeler up into the mountains, and it broke down right before a fierce thunder storm. We had to take shelter in a cave and—he kissed me right when the rain was pouring down and thunder booming. But I felt safe cuddled up to him in the dry cave.

Alexis: Would you say that you’ve fallen in love with Garrett? Why or why not?

Brooke: Yes, I have—despite our secrets from each other. He's considerate, protective of me, and he's a mighty good kisser. Best of all, he's a Godly Christian man.

Alexis: What role did Fritz (the dog) play in bonding you with Garrett?

Brooke: From the beginning, Garrett and I bonded because I have a special place in my heart for golden doodles. Before I met Garrett, I discovered Fritz in the forest close to the ranch. I heard his cries and rushed toward him. His paw was caught in a coyote trap then about that time, Garrett showed up. I comforted Fritz as we drove him to the vet. Then Fritz did something very special at the end of the story, but I can't tell you what it is.

Alexis: If you could change anything about your story, what would it be? Why?

Brooke: I don't think I would've lied about who I am. If Garrett didn't accept me for who I really am, then I didn't need to be his friend.

Alexis: What life lessons did you learn in this story? Explain.

Brooke: To not be ashamed of who I am. And most importantly, I am valuable in God's eyes and that's all that matters.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Brooke! Do you have closing comments?

Brooke: I want to thank you for these excellent questions. I hope your readers will enjoy reading A Home For Fritz.

Author Bio:
June Foster is an award-winning author who began her writing career in an RV roaming around the USA with her husband, Joe. 

She brags about visiting a location before it becomes the setting in her contemporary romances. 

June's characters find themselves in precarious circumstances where only God can offer redemption and ultimately freedom.

Book Blurb about A Home for Fritz:

All Brooke Cantrell wants is two weeks to live Brooke Radcliff's life. But the one person who knows the truth resides in the room next to hers at Sunlight Peaks Guest Ranch. When Brooke falls in love with the handsome wrangler who works on the ranch, will her employer's daughter tell him the truth Brooke hides?

Garrett Bowman has finally found peace under Wyoming skies at Sunrise Peaks Guest Ranch. Never again will he return to the demanding corporate life in Seattle, Washington. But will the guests recognize him from the incriminating newspaper and magazine articles eighteen months ago?

When Garrett's dog, Fritz, is in grave danger, an intriguing guest helps Garrett get his golden doodle to the vet. As Fritz heals, he whines and begs until he can lay his head in Brooke Radcliff's comfortable lap. Fritz has fallen in love, but so has Garrett.

If Garrett discovers Brook's secret, will he walk away from her?

If Brooke learns Garrett's true identify, will she turn from him like all the others?

Buy A Home for Fritz on Amazon

Connect with June:
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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: 

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: How to be battle ready wearing the armor of God

The Armor of God
A devotional by Sara L. Foust

Summer is coming to a close, and I can’t say I’m disappointed. Fall is my favorite time of year! I love the cooler weather, the colors of fall leaves, the sounds of the leaves touching gently to the earth, and, most of all, our family’s outdoor time. We plan camping trips, day trips to Cades Cove, and hikes and picnics as much as we can to soak in the beautiful East Tennessee autumn.

But that’s not the only reason I’m relieved to see summer ending. This summer has not been an easy one here. Where I usually look forward to the school break and sleeping in late, it has been some of the most stressful months I can remember. I think I thought that once I went on the mission trip God called me to in May, the devil would back off and leave us alone for a while. Oh, how wrong I was! He has ramped up his efforts, attacking every aspect of our life. My children’s behavior, my marriage, my time, my rest, my body, my sanity. Everything. I have been in one of the most intense battles of my life for months now. And I am exhausted.

Years ago, a dear friend of mine told me each morning before she gets out of bed she prays to put on the full armor of God. It was such good advice, and I don’t know why it has taken me so long to follow it. I had lots of excuses: I can’t remember the scripture or all the parts of the armor. I keep forgetting to type it up, and where would I put it that my kids wouldn’t tear down? I’m doing okay, I am managing so it’s not a necessity . . . and so on.

A couple of days ago, I finally put aside those excuses and typed out Ephesians 6:10-20 and hung it on my wall. When I wake up in the morning, I read the verses and pray each item of armor onto my spiritual body, especially focusing on the helmet of salvation to keep the enemy out of my mind and from affecting my thoughts (that’s where he gets to me most easily). It is making such a huge difference in my daily walk. Yes, life is still loud and crazy. No, I still can’t say that we have a precise schedule we follow. Yes, I’m still so tired I fall into bed at night and pass out. But I can feel a hedge of protection around my mind and heart and around our home. I’m tired of being on the offense. I’m ready to fight back. And the armor of God, with the Word as my sword, is my weapon.

If you'd like to receive the print-out that I created and talked about in today’s post, contact me and I can send you the direct file by email.

Meanwhile, enjoy reading Ephesians 6:10-20 (KJV) here:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God:

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

For which I am an ambassador in bonds; that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. 

Note from Sara: I encourage you to pray the armor of God onto your spiritual bodies each morning too and watch as God works in your life. 

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: When your heart is heavy and you cannot pray

Sighs, groans, and prayers
A devotional by Melissa Henderson

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness: for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” – Romans 8:26 (NRSV)

The words wouldn’t come. My heart was heavy. My body was exhausted from worry for a family member who had been making terrible life decisions. I had taken matters into my own hands thinking I could “fix” everything. I had not prayed to ask for help. Why did I not go to God first?

Praying doesn’t mean everything will turn out the way I want things to be. Praying gives me a relationship with God. He knows my thoughts before I think or speak.

Yet, years ago, I held on to my thinking of how life would be different for my family member if only I could help. Offering to go along on doctor visits, to cook special meals, to take the person on outings every week and much more.

If only these offers would make the person happy and find a way out of the dangerous decisions they were making. If only… I could fix this problem and make them feel better. I truly wanted to help.

Worry and anxiety consumed my days and nights. Just thinking about the wrong decisions the person was making made me physically ill. Knowing the potential of this wonderful family member brought tears more than once or twice. Watching them take a downward spiral broke my heart.

Why won’t they listen? Why do they repeat bad behavior over and over, not only hurting themselves but hurting the people around them? Why? Questions came over and over. Yet, I had not gone to God during those moments.

Oh, I may have complained and shown a less than friendly attitude when talking with God about the situation. I’ll admit that. My questions continued to be “Why is this happening? Why are You letting this happen?” Why? Why? Why?

Instead of surrendering to Him and placing the burden at His feet, I tried to carry the burden alone.

After a period of time passed, with my body weak from stress, worry, and sadness, I finally surrendered the situation to the Father.

On my knees, I asked for His forgiveness for not coming to Him sooner. I thanked Him for the love He provides freely each and every moment. I didn’t have special words. I spoke from my heart. I did not have a beautiful, thought out prayer. My prayer began with groans and sighs “too deep for words”.

And He found me, in my despair. He lifted me up. As I gave the situation to Him, my burden lightened and peace was found.

Shortly after that surrender, life began to change in a wonderful way for my family member. I know God was listening and He answered prayers in His way and in His time. God reminded me to take burdens to Him. He will handle the outcome.

Melissa Henderson

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 a 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, September 10, 2018

Music Review and Giveaway of Tori Kelly's "Hiding Place" CD

Dear Blog Readers,

Today, I’m reviewing Tori Kelly’s new CD “Hiding Place” for FlyBy Promotions. You’re in for a treat because they’re offering one copy of Tori’s CD to one lucky winner!

Here is Tori’s story about the making of this album, courtesy of FlyBy Promotions: 

While working on the follow-up to her debut album Unbreakable Smile—a 2015 release that premiered at #2 on the Billboard 200—Tori Kelly felt compelled to include a track that honored her lifelong passion for gospel music. With the help of her manager, Scooter Braun, the L.A.-based singer/songwriter soon connected with Kirk Franklin, a 12-time Grammy Award-winning gospel artist and one of Kelly’s musical idols. “I flew to Dallas and Kirk showed me a few songs he’d written, and I fell in love with all of them,” says Kelly, a 2016 Grammy Award nominee for Best New Artist. “Next thing you know, one song turned into us doing a whole album together. It just took on a life of its own.”

With its R&B-infused, deeply melodic take on classic gospel, Hiding Place offers up what Franklin refers to as “hope-pop”—a classification that fully resonates with Kelly. “One of the things I want for this album is for people to feel uplifted and encouraged when they listen,” she says. “I want them to know that, no matter what they’re going through, there’s a God who loves them so much and so unconditionally, and there’s always a reason to feel hope. That’s what I really believe in, and I want everyone out there to hear my heart.”

As Kelly explains, the title to Hiding Place draws inspiration from a line in one of her favorite psalms (“You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with songs of deliverance”). “That always stuck with me: this idea of God being a place of safety, a place where you can hide from all the crazy things that this world can throw at us,” she notes.

Produced by Franklin, Hiding Place unfolds with a lush yet simply adorned sound beautifully suited to Kelly’s incomparable voice. “I’ve worked with Mary J. Blige, Bono, Yolanda Adams, and I’ve never seen anyone that’s a monster behind the microphone like Tori Kelly,” says Franklin. “She’d nail one song in three takes, and all those takes were amazing. It set the bar higher for my whole career.”

While half of the songs on Hiding Place were penned solely by Franklin, the remaining tracks came from a collaboration between him and Kelly—the first time that Franklin’s ever co-written in a decades-long career that’s seen his songs performed by legends like Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston. (“It blew me away that she wanted us to co-write, because she’s a phenomenal songwriter and could’ve easily done it herself,” Franklin says.) And at Franklin’s urging, Hiding Place was mostly recorded at his studio just outside Dallas. “The most important thing to me was that if Tori wanted to do a gospel album—a real, authentic, heart-throbbing gospel album—she’d have to come to the South,” he says. “Then she showed up at my studio with no entourage, no handlers—just Tori and her guitar, standing at my front door.”

With its sonic palette gracefully rooted in live instrumentation, Hiding Place first reveals its unbridled spirit on the album-opening “Masterpiece” (featuring Houston-bred hip-hop artist Lecrae)—a joyfully uptempo track that instantly sweeps the listener into a more radiant state of mind. From there, Kelly delivers her slow-burning lead single “Help Us to Love,” whose breathtaking harmonies feature the famed HamilTones (official background vocalists for Grammy Award-winner Anthony Hamilton). Proving her versatility as an artist and musician, Hiding Place then shifts seamlessly from the silky groove and playful scat singing of “Sunday” to the sweetly ethereal soul of “Just As Sure” (a duet with chart-topping gospel star Jonathan McReynolds) to the quiet intensity of “Psalm 42.” “So many of the songs on this album are so intricate, I wanted a song that I could play completely stripped-down, just me and my guitar,” says Kelly of the tender piano ballad.

One of the most profound moments on Hiding Place, the hushed yet urgent ballad “Questions” finds Kelly tearfully examining the current state of the world (sample lyric: “What happens when the healing never comes?”). “It’s about trying to make sense of all the dark and heavy things that keep happening, sort of crying out to God and asking, ‘What’s going on? I don’t like what I see down here,’” says Kelly. Then, on the subtly determined “Never Alone,” Kelly recollects her own struggles (“I’ve cried many rivers/I’ve walked through some pain/Seen my world crumble”) and ultimately re-discovers comfort and peace through her faith.

On “Soul’s Anthem,” Kelly closes out Hiding Place with an a cappella, full-choir-driven rendition of the beloved hymn “It Is Well.” Perhaps the most powerfully captivating track on the album, “Soul’s Anthem” also gave way to what Kelly considers a landmark moment in her musical career. “Before we started, Kirk said to me, ‘Don’t look at me or the choir, just look down and get into your own world,’” says Kelly, who recorded “Soul’s Anthem” at the iconic Capitol Studios. “So I sang it all the way through, and at one point there’s a part where the choir takes over. I looked up and saw all these incredible singers, and it finally hit me that this was really happening. You can’t hear it on the recording, but I’m crying at the end of the song.”

Looking back on the making of Hiding Place, Kelly still marvels at the experience. “I always thought I would do something like this, but I thought it would be much further down the line,” she says. “It’s been in my heart for some time, but the timing didn’t feel right until now. I didn’t think I’d get the chance to work with someone like Kirk just yet, and that people would be so excited and accepting.” And though the album marks a stylistic departure from her work in the pop world, a commitment to uncompromising artistry carries through all of Kelly’s music. “No matter what genre you’re working in, there should be a level of excellence, and Tori definitely brought that excellence to this album,” says Franklin. “A lot of artists out there will rely on Auto-Tune or studio tricks, but there’s no button you can push for emotion, and there’s no button for skill. Tori is excellent in everything she does, because she’s a real, pure artist.”

As she gets ready to share Hiding Place with the world, Kelly hopes that it might give others the same sense of solace and joy she’s found in gospel in her entire life. And as the album’s creator, one of the most rewarding aspects of Hiding Place was embracing gospel’s boundless intensity, and pushing her vocal performance like never before. “With gospel music, you can’t sing without all your heart being in it,” says Kelly. “This album was an opportunity to not only express my faith and my love for God, but to do what I felt and never hold back. I could just be free and let the song take me over.”

Ready for my review of Tori's new CD? Read on! 

Every song is rated between 1 and 5 stars. Here’s the meaning of each starred rating:

5 stars = Wonderful! I love it!

4 stars = Great song and lyrics, I really like it!

3 stars = Nice tune but not too spectacular

2 stars = I really do not like this song

1 star = Not worth listening to

Song #1: Masterpiece (feat. Lecrae)
Rating: 4 stars
Review: This song is upbeat, lighthearted and jazzy. I like the message that centers on the fact that as children of God, WE are His Masterpiece! It’s a great song that presents Bible-based truth to a modern audience in a way that appeals to both the book smart and street smart. This song has a sense of humor—the funniest line was when Lecrae’s rap feature said that you are a masterpiece when you feel like a catastrophe. Hilarious!

Song #2: Help Us to Love (feat. The HamilTones)
Rating: 4 stars
“All this hate I see on the TV screen in my country Tis of Thee” is one of the most poignant lyrics in this song. It’s like a personal essay on the modern day conflicts we’re having in the United States of America. The essay is from the singer’s point of view. Tori’s heart for unity and peace shows through in this song. The HamilTones’s feature presented a nice accent to her purpose in encouraging listeners of this song to truly love one another as the Bible commands us to in this life. The song ends by asking us to love each other the way God loves us. His love for us is extravagant, true and enduring.

Song #3: Sunday
Rating: 3 stars
Review: This song has an old-fashioned tune that’s subtle as the lyrics and the singer’s voice is great but this one was not my favorite. It’s a personal preference because there are probably music lovers out there who will love this one.

Song #4: Just As Sure (feat. Jonathan McReynolds)
Rating: 4 stars
This song has a nice, sweet tune complete with a true, Bible-based message. It’s beautiful. It’s a reminder that God knows what’s best for us and we need to hear His Voice above the noise of the world. The fact that God loves you is revisited in almost every verse. It’s very effective in making sure the takeaway message of God loves you, stays strong in the audience’s mind even after the song is over. I love how toward the end of this song, Tori and Jonathan sing a few lyrics from one of Kirk Franklin’s songs “Love (Remix).” Kirk Franklin collaborated with Tori throughout this album. It’s really special.

Song #5: Psalm 42
Rating: 4 stars
Review: “I need your Living Word for these dry bones” is one of the most poignant lines in this song. I like how this song borrowed verses from Psalm 42 in The Holy Bible. This is a song that can set the listeners at ease and help them experience God’s peace.

Song #6: Questions
Rating: 4 stars
Review: This song addresses the tough questions in life like “What happens when the healing never comes?” It also addresses tough seasons in life. Tori’s voice carries a myriad of human emotions and likes dark times to the winter season. She’s not afraid to address the real-life situations that hurt you. Tori delves deep into the pain that’s part of the human experience but then she takes the listener to new heights of hope that you can find in trusting God even when you do not understand what He’s doing. It’s a wonderful reminder that God is not afraid of our honest questions and raw emotions. He can handle it. All we have to do is bring it to Him through prayer.

Song #7: Never Alone (feat. Kirk Franklin)
Rating: 4 stars
Review: I like how this song kept emphasizing that Heaven says we’re never alone. It’s like it takes the listener out of the temporary trappings and mindsets of this world and reminds us of the bigger picture, one where God is in control. It’s a great reminder that God is with us no matter what and Earth is not our home. It’s a great encouragement to look up to Heaven and remember three things: God loves you. He will never forsake you. He has your back!

Song #8: Soul’s Anthem (It is Well)
Rating: 4 stars
Review: This song felt a bit dark but fittingly so given the content of the lyrics that addressed dark seasons of the human experience. Despite the darkness, Tori’s voice shines through with lyrics of hope. Toward the end of this song, her voice is backed by sounds of a melodious gospel choir singing the church hymn “It Is Well with My Soul.” This song is a beautiful experience that reminds the believer in God that the battles of life are won through prayer and walking by faith because we wrestle not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). It’s a spiritual battle that can only be won with Jesus Christ on your side.

Buy Link for Hiding Place (Tori's CD):


Bonus: Watch Tori's “Never Alone” music video featuring Kirk Franklin here

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