Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Book Review: Life Changing Prayers

Today, I'd like to share my review of a book that made a profound impact on the way I think about – and practice – prayer! 

Read on for my review. 

Book Title:
Life Changing Prayers: How God Displays His Power to Ordinary People

Author: Michael Youssef

My Review:

This book contains a powerful message on the power of prayer!

Ultimately, the author advises the reader to look at prayer as a way of life.

He addresses issues that many a believer faces such as rushing through your time with God when we really should be enjoying and soaking in our time with Him. The author gives us a reality check in that, the Creator of the Universe is always available for us. Human resources like licensed counselors and crisis lines may have their limits and times when you cannot reach out for help but God is always ready and available to help us!

How do we reach God? Through prayer. How do we pray “life-changing prayers?” The author answers that question throughout this book.

He breaks down his message into a total of seven chapters that each focus on a Bible character (Hannah, David, Jonah, and Mary, to name a few). Though each character’s story is different, they are connected by one common trait—they were “ordinary” people who each prayed a prayer that changed their lives and made an impact on human history!

The author wraps up his message in the epilogue that teaches on the purpose of prayer. He opens the epilogue with mention of a British evangelist and early missionary worker in the Salvation Army. The person’s name was Rodney “Gipsy” Smith. The author says, “Gipsy Smith understood that the purpose of prayer is not to change God but to allow God to change us. The purpose of prayer is to bring God’s power into our lives, to open us up to God’s blessings and God’s power to change us.”

And that concludes my review of Michael Youssef’s book! It’s a powerful, wonderful read that will encourage the heart of the reader.

I highly recommend it and think that it deserves a five-star rating.

*I, (Alexis A. Goring), received a complimentary copy of this book (Life Changing Prayers: How God Displays His Power to Ordinary People) from the author’s publisher for me to read. My opinions in this book review are my own.

Book Blurb:

They were just ordinary people--a loyal servant, a woman who desperately wanted a child, an old man who still had hope, and a young teenager who couldn't quite believe God's great love. 

Ordinary people who prayed extraordinary prayers to an extraordinary God. They weren't always eloquent. They weren't always the type of person you might think God would listen to. But they trusted God and his plans for their lives, and that made all the difference.

Life-Changing Prayers tells their stories and shares their desperate, hopeful, and gratitude-filled prayers, inspiring and emboldening readers to ask God for the desires of their own hearts. 

Anyone who desires to pray life-changing prayers, as well as anyone whose prayer life has grown stagnant or nonexistent, will find here the encouragement to pray confidently and expectantly to the God who always hears--and always answers.

*Buy this book on Amazon.

Author Bio:

Michael Youssef, Ph.D., is the Founder and President of Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef, a worldwide ministry that leads the way for people living in spiritual darkness to discover the light of Christ through the creative use of media and on-the-ground ministry teams ( 

His weekly television programs and daily radio programs are broadcast in 25 languages and seen worldwide, airing more than 12,000 times per week. He is also the founding pastor of The Church of The Apostles in Atlanta, Georgia, with more than 3,000 members.

Dr. Youssef was born in Egypt and lived in Lebanon and Australia before coming to the United States. In 1984, he fulfilled a childhood dream of becoming an American citizen. He holds degrees from Moore College in Sydney, Australia, and from Fuller Theological Seminary in California.

In 1984, he earned a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Emory University. He has authored more than 30 books, including recent popular titles End Times and the Secret of the Mahdi, and Jesus, Jihad and Peace.

He and his wife reside in Atlanta and have four grown children and eight grandchildren.

Devotionals for the Heart: Reasons why you can trust God to catch you

Catch Me

A devotional by Jo Huddleston

“And, surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 
~Matthew 28:20 (NIV)

One sunny afternoon, I pushed my three-year-old granddaughter, Mallory, on her swing. Soon tired of swinging, she hopped off the swing and scampered up the ladder to the slide.

Mallory soon discovered she had a problem: the slide was too hot from the sunshine for her to rest her bare legs against the metal so that she could slide down. Compounding her dilemma, Mallory lacked the necessary coordination to retrace her climb back down the ladder.

I walked toward the slide, thinking she would ask me to lift her off. But, without warning, Mallory leapt through the air toward me. I wrapped my arms around her just as she latched onto me. Mallory had chosen me as an escape from her perch atop the slide.

“You catched me!” Mallory shouted. “Momma Jo, I love you,” she said.

Recalling Mallory’s joy, I remembered a time I made a leap of faith into God’s arms. Thirteen years earlier, I watched meningitis suck precious life from the still form of Paige, my college-aged daughter, now Mallory’s mother.

Lying curled in a fetal position in her hospital bed, my daughter moved only her eyes. She looked up at me and whispered, “Mother, this may be my time to die.” Holding her limp hand in mine, I leaned closer and said quietly, “Darling, it may be.” No panic or fear registered in her words or in her fevered eyes. She shared a labored smile with me and slowly closed her swollen eyes.

I didn’t curse God or offer Him any arguments or attempt to bargain with Him to spare Paige’s life. Just as Mallory had felt secure in my catching her, I trusted God for His comfort and everlasting strength to catch me.

By the next day, Paige’s health had made an unbelievable change for the better and two days later the doctors released her from their care. God had rescued my daughter, and I breathed, “God, I love You!”

In His Word, God promises to be with us always. If we accept His promises with the innocence and trust of a little child, we can know the security of having the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding.” ~Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

God is always ready to catch you in your time of trouble if you trust Him and obey His word. In your heart, take God’s promises as a lifeline, depend on His protection. God is the only unchanging part of life. Allow him to take care of you.

Author Bio:

Jo Huddleston is a multi-published author who writes novels inspired by her fascination with the 1950s and her love of her native American South. 

Novels in her endearing Caney Creek series, her West Virginia Mountains series, as well as her stand-alone release, Tidewater Summer, are sweet Southern romance novels. 

Her writing career includes more than 200 articles and short stories, which have appeared in over 50 well-known Christian and secular publications including Guideposts and Decision. She's an online contributor to Christian Devotions Ministries (

Jo’s devotions appear in eight anthologies and she wrote devotions on assignment and freelance for the following daily devotionals: Devotions, Open Windows, Pathways to God, The Quiet Hour, The Secret Place, and The Upper Room.

She is a member of the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN), and holds a M.Ed. degree from Mississippi State University. Visit Jo online at this address,

Monday, October 29, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: A Life Lesson inspired by a Bible story

Don’t Take It For Granted
A devotional by Quantrilla Ard

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’” 
–Luke 15:31 (NIV)

As parents, our responsibility is to pour into our children wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. We are to teach them about how to discern right from wrong and to discern between what’s good and what’s best. Watching them grow up and become independent thinkers is equal parts excitement and terror, as you know the challenges and difficulties that accompany growing up. Peer pressure, societal demands, and personal preferences all play roles in the decisions our children make. We can only hope and pray that they will choose the good.

Many sermons and devotionals have drawn inspiration, taught object lessons, and mined messages of hope from Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. I love this story in its entirety and in each of the characters’ stories. Today, we will focus on the brother, the one who stayed behind and the one who in my humble opinion had the most to lose. Let’s dig a little deeper into his story.

The Bible doesn’t specifically go into the historical details of this family. Honestly, I’ve always wondered where the mother was! We are only afforded a snapshot in time of this hypothetical family: a hard-working father and his sons. 

One son, tired of his daily duties and ready to “make it” on his own asks for his inheritance and leaves home. We know how the story goes, he loses all he owns and returns home destitute and apologetic. The father is moved with compassion on his son and welcomes him home with open arms and celebration.

The other son, the one left at home, broods over his father’s reaction to his brother’s return. The parable doesn’t discuss what this son did while his brother was away. However, he is left at home to help the father as his choice was made for him once his brother decided to leave. Someone had to stay behind. Now I’m not sure if there was an actual invitation from the other brother to leave, but many of us can relate to him having your circumstances dictated by the behavior and decisions of someone else. It doesn’t seem fair, and if our emotions are unchecked, the root of bitterness can take hold in our hearts and lives.

Here are a few areas where I believe the brother that stayed at home, lost sight of the prize:

- He viewed being at home with his father as a punishment rather than a blessing.

- He resented his brother for leaving but didn’t show him grace when he returned.

- He focused on the external blessings his brother received and did not recognize the internal change that had taken place in his life.

- He viewed his brother as being selfish for leaving but didn’t himself take advantage of his father’s best qualities, forgiveness, and compassion.

How could this brother have lived with his father and worked beside him all those years and not reflect his character? Sound familiar yet? How can we who know the character of our Heavenly Father and have spent time with Him not reflect His character? Why do we question God when good things seem to happen for others, while we have waited in His Presence with our hands outstretched? Have we too, taken our relationship with the Father for granted by allowing ourselves to be in His presence but letting the roots of bitterness and lack of compassion permeate our lives?

What the brother failed to recognize is that the father would have just as readily given him whatever he asked for. All the father had belonged to him as well. Friends, let’s draw close to our Father not in hopes of what we will receive as a reward but because we love Him and want His character to be reproduced in us. And because He is such a good Father, He will sing and rejoice over us also when we come to ourselves and return to Him. Let’s desire the Giver more than the gifts He gives.

Author Bio:

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Quanny:
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Facebook -
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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Falling for Books: Pepper's book

Interview with Pepper Basham, author of Jane by the Book:

Alexis: Welcome to my blog, Pepper! I'm delighted to host you today! 

Pepper: Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Alexis! I LOVE talking about stories and characters and…all those wonderful things.

Alexis: Why did you decide to call this story, “Jane by the Book?” 

Pepper: Well, for two reasons: Jane is a rule-follower so she lives ‘by the book’, so to speak, but ALSO, this novella involves a mystery about a journal…so another book is involved. 😊

Alexis: Jane Warwick is the heroine of your story. What are her dreams and fears? 

Pepper: I don’t think she really knows her dreams before the book begins. The hero helps her find them, but her fears are pretty obvious early on. She’s afraid of being hurt again – and being played a fool too. 

Alexis: How is life for Jane after being left at the altar by the man she wanted to marry? What led her to Simeon Ridge?

Pepper: Being left at the altar led her to Simeon Ridge. After the very public wound of being jilted, she wanted to ‘hide’ from the world, so she took a job, at first, as a maid at the inn (unassuming) and then did such a good job she was promoted over the years. Her love for control and tidiness really suits her job as housekeeping manager of the Inn at Simeon Ridge.

Alexis: Paint a picture with words of the Inn at Simeon Ridge. Why is it special?

Pepper: It’s a beautiful mountain inn featuring a stone and wood exterior with tall glass windows. The back part of the house (where the library and breakfast rooms are located) has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Alexis: In what ways do the members of the Simeon family help heal Jane’s broken heart? 

Pepper: They provide her a ‘family’ and an opportunity to grow into her gifts. There are safety and love in them. We all heal better and more quickly when given those two things – safety and love. 

Alexis: Why does Jane go to Bath, England and what happens there that upsets her “peaceful monotony”?

Pepper: She goes to Bath to help her friend Nora Simeon’s fiancé, train the staff of his new inn. What happens to break her monotony? Titus Stewart

Alexis: Describe the meet cute between Jane and historical detective author Titus Stewart. What were their first impressions of each other? Why?

Pepper: Well, really people would enjoy this more by reading the book. It’s a pretty cute meeting. He ‘sees’ her as a fictional character model. She sees him as the nuisance who lost parts of a centuries’ old journal. It’s not the best first impression.

Alexis: Titus Stewart is the hero of your story. What is he like? Describe his looks, personality, and heart for writing. 

Pepper: Titus is sweetly odd and wonderful good-hearted. As a writer, he tends to see the world in, sometimes, a fictional way – but he’s grounded in his faith and confidence. He’s kind of trying to ‘save’ his writing at the beginning of the story, but you’ll really have to read it to get a better idea of him.

Alexis: Why does Titus work Jane into his fictional novel that he’s writing? How did she become a muse that he cannot forget? 

Pepper: He needed the perfect heroine for his fictional hero and Jane ‘fit’ what Titus was looking for…THEN, her personal mystery drew them together so that Jane became the heroine for Titus’ life.

Alexis: What role does a “mysterious journal” play in bringing Titus and Jane together?

Pepper: Titus LOVES stories and Jane brought this journal along that binds her to Bath, U.K. – so, of course, Titus wants to help her solve the mystery of the journal because he can’t stand an ‘unfinished’ story. 

Alexis: Titus is one of those authors who talks to his imaginary characters from his fictional stories as if they were real people. How does Jane feel about that? 

Pepper: As you can imagine, at first, she thinks it’s pretty weird. I think it begins to grow on her as she sees what a sweetheart Titus is. 

Alexis: Jane is strict and Titus is a total free spirit. How does that affect their relationship?

Pepper: Well, he helps loosen her up and she helps encourage his dream. At first, it’s not the most likely pairing, but they end of seeing how they work well together. 

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

Pepper: The beauty of stepping out into your fears and being brave enough to try. There’s such a reward (and in this case a romance) in being authentically who you are and then being loved. 

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

Pepper: Again, thanks so much for having me here today. Jane and Titus were so much fun to write – and if any of your readers want to start from the ‘beginning’ of this little series, they can begin with Second Impressions. Bath, U.K. is a wonderful place to visit, both in real-life and through a book.

Author Bio:
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with a southern Appalachian flair. Her books are seasoned with her Appalachian heritage and love for family. 

Pepper's stories have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, The INPSY Awards, and the ACFW Carol Awards. The Thorn Healer was selected as a 2018 finalist in the RT Awards. 

She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

Blurb for Jane by the Book:

A Jane Austen-inspired novella

She’s level-headed and ordered. He talks to imaginary characters.

She keeps to the plan. He never has one.

Will true love find a way to color outside the lines but inside God’s love to create a story they can write together?

Four years ago, Jane Warwick escaped the shame of being jilted at the altar by becoming a housekeeper at the secluded Inn at Simeon Ridge. Predictable and quiet, the inn and large Simeon family help Jane find a place to heal but also cultivate her natural strengths for order and planning. But an unexpected visit to Bath, England, upsets Jane's peaceful monotony and sends her out of her comfort zone, directly into the harrowing path of historical detective author, Titus Stewart.

The only plans Titus sticks to are family holidays and the ones that send him careening into his story worlds, but when an uptight innkeeper stumbles into his life - and his latest novel - nonfiction begins to take on a much more interesting gleam.

With the help of a mysterious journal, will they both uncover a romance that stands the test of time?

Buy Pepper’s book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble
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Friday, October 26, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Murphy's Law and God's Provision

Murphy’s Law 
A devotional by Gail Kittleson

When things fail to proceed as we think they should, we often cite Murphy’s Law: “What can go wrong, will.” This saying originated at Edwards Air Force Base in 1949, where engineers often had to resort to trial and error in their forward progress.

We use it all the time, usually scratching our heads at the same moment we say the words. But Thanksgiving is all about those times when Murphy’s Law did not apply. We look back over the year behind us, noting all the blessings that came through to us, in spite of our errors, miscalculations, and poor judgment.

Those times when we looked out in the morning to a glorious sunrise and lifted our hearts in praise to the Creator of all. Perhaps in that instant, we sensed the Almighty very near. That non-Murphy’s Law moment signified the beginning of a day we’d walk through life expecting good things, and put our best foot forward. Just a simple dot in the stretch of time we call a day—that twenty-four hour period when we’re given an opportunity to make a difference.

And we might recall another time when someone patted us on the back and told us that we did make a difference in their lives. That caused us to give thanks—being purposeful is what we all long for—to know that our choices and actions and attitudes matter to someone.

One man who lived a long, long time ago, before Murphy’s Law had been coined, had learned to praise and thank God no matter what. When Habakkuk could see no encouraging signs around him, he still vowed to praise God.

"Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." (Habakkuk 3:17-18, NKJV)

When President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving in 1863, his nation was torn by a brutal war that pitted citizen against citizen. On every side, he could have focused on signs of despair. And yet, he called the United States of America to give thanks.

With these examples in mind, oh Lord, fill our hearts with gratitude for all the good we have experienced in 2018.

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.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Music Review and Giveaway of Chris Tomlin's NEW CD "Holy Roar"

Dear Blog Readers,

Today, I’m reviewing Chris Tomlin's new CD “Holy Roar” for FlyBy Promotions. You’re in for a treat because they’re offering one copy of his CD to one lucky winner!

Here's a photo of the album cover:

Enjoy this music feature!

Artist Bio:

Chris Tomlin is one of the most heralded singer-songwriters in the world who has amassed an impressive body of work. He has sold more than 8 million albums, 11.3 million digital tracks with 16 #1 singles. 

Chris is one of only four artists ever to receive the Sound Exchange Digital Radio Award for over 1 Billion digital radio streams, others include Justin Timberlake, Pitbull and Garth Brooks. 

The Grammy® winner’s list of music awards include an American Music Award, 3 Billboard Music Awards, 21 Dove Awards, a BMI Songwriter of the Year Award and more. Chris’ concert tours have sold-out venues in major cities including New York City’s Madison Square Garden, The Forum in Los Angeles, Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena and Red Rocks in Denver, among others.

This spring, Chris marked another career milestone by launching his own imprint record label, Bowyer & Bow, in partnership with Capitol Christian Music Group.

Ready for my review? 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: Holy Roar
Review: As the title song for this album, “Holy Roar” is worth its weight in gold! It’s like the rallying of the troops in God’s Army, a gathering of His people from around the world to worship Him. The tune is inspiring and the lyrics move you to worship God right along with Chris Tomlin and his band.

Song #2: Nobody Loves Me Like You
Rating: 5
Review: Listening to the lyrics of this song accompanied with the soft, peaceful sounds, is like watching the sunrise from the window of your home. The feel of this song makes you feel like you live in a beautiful, serene mountainside log cabin in the picturesque part of Montana (USA)! I can almost smell the fresh mountain air and feel the cool breeze. This song feels very much like the Fall season on the East Coast—beautiful in color, tone and feel. Through the sound and lyrics of this song, Tomlin does a wonderful job in moving the listener to worship God as they reflect on His Goodness that we’re reminded of in the song’s lyrics. It is beautifully serene, sweet and whimsical.

Song #3: Resurrection Power
Rating: 4
Review: My first thoughts in hearing the first two lines of this song were, “I heard this song on the radio!” Haha. It’s very familiar to me. I enjoy listening to it. The message that God has given us freedom from the bondage of sin if we just choose Him and accept His gift of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ, really resonates with me. The lyrics are straight-forward and Bible-based. The tempo of the song is upbeat but perfectly paced. Nice!

Song #4: Goodness, Love and Mercy
Rating: 3
Review: This song is a nice rendition of Psalm 23. There’s not too much to it. Tomlin basically sings the Bible verses without adding or taking away anything, which is good but the sound is a bit boring. It just didn’t move me.

Song #5: Satisfied
Rating: 3
Review: This song serves to remind the listener that in a world of thirsty people, only Jesus can truly satisfy. It reminds me of the Bible verse about how wells filled with water run dry but when you drink from the Living Water (a relationship with Jesus Christ), you will never thirst again. You won’t thirst for the temporary trappings of this world. Knowing Jesus is freedom from the ways of this world that don’t save your soul. Only Jesus can save your soul. Only He can quench your thirst when you’re searching for something more or trying to figure out the meaning of life. Hint: Jesus is what your soul longs for and only He can save your soul, ushering you right into eternity when He returns to Earth to take His faithful followers home to Heaven. This song reminds me that Earth is not our Home. It helps tune me into the Bigger Picture where God wins over sin and the enemy, where His plan for humanity is restored—a plan where death, destruction, and pain have no place ever again! Despite the wonderful life lessons I hear in this song “Satisfied”, I didn’t like the tune and I thought some of the lyrics could have been written better, which is why I’m giving it this rating.

Song #6: Impact
Rating: 4
Review: This song is like a welcome to worship God. It starts off slow and sweet then picks up tempo before taking off like an airplane on a beautiful musical journey, destination: the presence of God!

Song #7: Praise Him Forever
Rating: 4
Review: This song is a worship tune for real. It made me want to stand and clap my hands and dance down the church aisles. The sound of this song will make you happy and remind you of all of God’s Goodness. His Love for humankind is unrivaled.

Song #8: 
Is He Worthy?
Rating: 4
Review: This song is filled with questions for the listener (literally) but these questions are not without purpose. The lyrics challenge the listener to think deeply about the meaning of life, love, and God.

Song #9: Forever Young
Rating: 5
Review: Now who doesn’t want to be “Forever Young?” But this song isn’t about the “Fountain of Youth”, it’s about the Eternal King, Creator of the Universe who is forever true to His Word (The Holy Bible) and caring about His people (humankind). I love the line about Jesus creating “rivers in my soul.” It’s beautiful on every point: sound, lyrics, tempo, everything!

Song #10: I Stand in Awe (feat. Nicole Serrano)
Rating: 5
Review: Nicole Serrano’s voice is the first sound I heard in this song, and it’s beautiful. Her voice is soulful and deep yet light as air. The way that Tomlin’s voice joins hers first like a backup singer then as an equal results in a breathtaking duet between two professional singers who know what they’re doing—they’ve created a musical masterpiece!

Song #11: Praise Is the Highway
Rating: 4
Review: This song has a powerful message about the power of God to break strongholds and how praise is the highway to the throne and heart of God. I could hear the guitar and drums, which in this case are just as necessary as the lyrics.

Song #12: How Sweet It Is (feat. Pat Barrett)
Rating: 3
Review: I thought that this song was sweet but it’s not my cup of tea. The message, however, is nice because it talks about how sweet it is to be loved by Jesus but I didn’t like the song or Pat Barrett’s singing voice.

Buy Chris Tomlin's "Holy Roar" CD here,

Hear Chris talk about the idea of his new album "Holy Roar," 

Read this message from FlyBy Promotions regarding the giveaway of Chris Tomlin’s CD “Holy Roar”: 

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Enter the giveaway contest via the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to WIN a copy of "Holy Roar" (CD) by Chris Tomlin: 

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: You are NOT alone because God is with you!

I Am Not Alone
A devotional by Ginger Solomon

“And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone,
 for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”~John 8:29 (ESV)

I wish I could say I always do things that are pleasing to God. However, even when I make mistakes or willfully sin, He is faithful to forgive me when I ask. He is always near when I call on Him.

I remember when my children were little. All they had to do was whimper and I would hear them if I was anywhere close. I could tell who it was, generally, and if it was an "I’m frustrated" cry or an "I’m hurt" cry. As they grew, especially the boys, it became harder to discern who was who, but if I listened carefully, I could tell. They each had their own voice.

I imagine that God can discern our voices as well. In addition, He can tell if our hearts are sincere or if we’re only saying the words. I’ve done it. I’m sure you have as well. Sung a song or prayed a prayer by rote because it’s expected. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7), but I imagine He also loves a cheerful, or at least sincere, worshipper and pray-er.

And yet, many times I’m not sincere. I struggle with selfishness or pain or . . .

Life is not always easy. It doesn’t always feel good. It doesn’t always turn out the way we expect and yet, God is there. He is always near when I call. He hears me. He hears my anguish, my selfishness, my pain, and He doesn’t turn away. He can take my frustration and anger. He can handle my questions. That doesn’t mean He’ll answer them the way I want.

How many places in the Bible book of Psalms do we see David cry out to God in anger and ask why? And then a split second later, he’s praising God and telling himself to, basically, get over his selfishness and trust God.

In Psalm 42:9, we see one example. “I say to God, my rock: ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?’” A few verses later, he asks himself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” And then he admonishes himself. “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." (Psalm 42:11)

God doesn’t mind our questions. He doesn’t mind our frustrations or our anger. But, once we’re done, He expects us to remind ourselves of His faithfulness, righteousness, and holiness, and then make a decision. To trust Him. To place our hope in Him. To praise Him. To desire to please Him. Again and again and again.

Have you experienced a time when you expressed your anger toward God, and then, repentant, cried out to Him to help you understand, to comfort you in your distress, or to bring you peace? I know I have. I also know He has always been there.

*All Scripture in this devotional is from the English Standard Version (ESV) of The Holy Bible.

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, October 22, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Reunions

Best Friends Forever
A devotional by Dana McNeely

If you live in the United States of America, you may be familiar with the term "BFF" which when people are talking about friendships, means "Best Friends Forever." 

Have you ever longed for a BFF or do you have plenty? Today, I'd like to talk about what my high school reunion taught me about having an Ultimate BFF and the Ultimate Reunion that only He can orchestrate!

My Recent Reunion

Earlier this month, my husband and I attended our joint high school class reunion. I won’t tell you what year we celebrated but I will say that it was a BIG year. We both graduated from a small Christian High School in the town we still live in, but we’d rarely seen any of our classmates over the years. Yet it was so easy to step back into time and revisit friendships.

On Friday night, we sat together in the stands and cheered the team at homecoming football game. On Saturday afternoon/evening we mingled at a classmates home, in the westernmost nether regions of town, braving rain-filled potholes and a stretch of dirt road.

Back to the Future

It was so easy to reconnect after (ahem, mumble) years. We laughed and teased and reveled in each other’s stories. We celebrated milestones, admired pictures of grandchildren, and more than once, we commiserated over hardships, sorrows, and deaths.

I was reminded of the 1985 movie, Back to the Future, in which 17-year old Marty McFly accidentally time-travels thirty years into the past where he must make sure his then-teenage parents meet and fall in love so that he will be born. This movie explores how fate, chance, and a little mad science might shape a life’s direction. Those of us who love God know He directs our lives, not fate or chance, but there were parallels between this time-traveling tale and my high school reunion.

Like Marty’s parents, several in our high school had married each other. Most of our lives had taken surprising turns. Some had maintained very close friendships and some hadn’t seen each other since graduating. But we all felt that bond of shared experiences of the past – old ties still unbroken. When the evening ended, we left reluctantly, vowing to do better at keeping in touch.

The Ultimate BFF

Even though we’d been physically separated for many years, we were all still friends. Good friends! How can that be? 

I’ve mentioned some of the actions that define friendship for me: Caring, listening, sharing stories, laughing, commiserating, and celebrating . . . and this group of old friends shares something more – a common faith in the lover of our souls. God is the Author of all true friendship, but the friendship between Christians has an extra spiritual dimension because we bring God’s wisdom and direction into our conversations.

For example, Exodus 33:11 describes how Moses talked face-to-face with God in the tent of meeting. They were friends! Moses wasn’t perfect, gifted, or powerful, yet God chose him. His human weakness and imperfection forced Moses to rely on God for wisdom and direction. It’s that way for all of us. When we face difficulty, we can ask God for help.

Proverbs 17:17 (NIV) says it best: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Whether God uses a Christian spouse, brother, or sister to help us in time of trouble – or some other means – we are never alone, because God is our friend, just as he was Moses’s.

What a friend we have in Jesus!

Early in my Christian life, I learned a song with the words “I am a friend of God – He calls me friend.”

“A nice idea,” I thought for years. “But kind of conceited. You think God is friends with lowly humans? Where’s the proof for that?” Silly me. It’s everywhere – in Scripture and in the world around us. But the first time the truth of God’s friendship slammed into me, I found it in John 15. 

Here is the poignant passage from John 15 that brings tears to my eyes every time when I read it: 

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” –John 15:9-12 (NIV)

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” 
–John 15:13-15 (NIV)

The Ultimate Reunion

God is your Best Friend Forever. He has known you from before you were born, and He loves you. And if you’ve been apart awhile, God is always ready to reaffirm His love for you.

Now it’s your turn! In the comments below, please share your thoughts on friendship with God and with others. I’ll be dropping by several times 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, October 21, 2018

Falling for Books: LoRee's book

Turn Your “Without a Song” into a New Song
A devotional by LoRee Peery

“Sing to the Lord a new song, Sing His praise from the end of the earth!”
~Isaiah 42:10 (NASB)

At five o’clock on a Wednesday a few months ago, author Mary Manners asked me to join her and three others in compiling a novella collection. I responded that I’d pray about it. All I had in mind for a project was my next novel-length story, which I’m working on now.

On the way to choir that evening, during rehearsal, and driving home, the title, premise, and setting came to me. How could I not say yes?

I love the way the Lord works and pray I will always trust Him with what He calls me to do. Without a Song is a novella within a boxed set called "Fall in Love" which celebrates finding love during the autumn season.

You’ve probably heard the term that our heads are about twelve inches from our hearts. I’d venture to guess every reader has a different reference to that concept. Often, the term head knowledge relates to those who have grown up in the church, attended multiple Bible studies, and memorized Scripture. However, something is missing from the enjoyment of life. They have not asked Jesus to forgive their sins and enter their hearts.

Dawson Bennett, the hero of Without a Song, has lost the ability to write music following a record deal going awry in Nashville. His brother invites him to stay on a ranch. Dawson returns to his hometown in Nebraska and discovers his sister-in-law opened up the house to friend Roni Marsden and her young daughter.

In my story, Roni suggests Dawson study the verses in Scripture that refer to a new song because a new song praises the Lord. “O sing to the Lord a new song, For He has done wonderful things” (Psalm 98:1). She becomes his earthly inspiration.

Psalm 9:10 says, “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” Both Roni and Dawson have to trust their todays and their tomorrows to our God.

Psalm 33:3 reads, “Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy.” For Dawson to find that new song, and compose the melody on his guitar, his heart and head must jibe with new excitement over his reestablished relationship with the Lord. Honest, emotional lyrics flow from the reality of life rather than “knowing” how to sing and play. In other words, his head and heart need to be in sync.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:3). Renewed by spending time in the Bible, Dawson latches on to a new song of love for the Lord that affects his testimony, and his music.

My favorite number is 49, and I sing in the choir at our church, so I personally like this verse: “Sing to the Lord a new song, And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones” (Psalm 149:1).

I hope you rediscover your trust in the Lord, a hunger for His Word, and can joyfully say, “I will sing a new song to You, O God; Upon a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You” (Psalm 144:9).

One way to renew a song in your heart is to pray a Psalm. I suggest Psalm 100.

Author Bio:
Christian romance author LoRee Peery writes to feel alive, as a way of contributing, and to pass forward the hope of rescue from sin. 

She writes of redeeming grace with a sense of place. LoRee clings to 1 John 5:4 and prays her family sees that faith. 

She has authored novellas and novels published by Pelican Book Group. Her desire for readers, the same as for her characters, is to discover where they fit in this life journey to best work out the Lord’s life plan. 

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

Book Blurb for Without a Song:

Still reeling from the loss of her husband, young widow Roni Marsden resolves to be strong for her precocious daughter. Invited to stay on the cleansing hills of her friend’s ranch in Nebraska, she tries to figure out the next step. Should she leave Norfolk? Could she find work if she did?

Country songwriter Dawson Bennett returns home to the quiet of his brother’s ranch when the production company for his first album goes bust. He searches his heart for new songs, but finds himself unable to write. Even as he seeks direction for his career, he attempts to mend the past with his elderly father.

Back in high school, Dawson had crushed on the lovely Roni when she dated his brother. Those emotions are reawakened when he discovers Roni and her daughter also taking emotional shelter at the ranch. Protective feelings for the child, as well as for a stray pup that arrives on the scene, work together to soften his bitterness. Will these connections enable him to write lyrics that honor God?

Or does God have a different future in mind for these searching souls? 

Buy LoRee's book:

Without a Song in print on Amazon

Fall in Love (boxed set) including LoRee's story "Without a Song" on Amazon  

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: No Fear

No Fear!
A devotional by Susan Lindstrom

I have a thing for words.

I’ve loved them my whole life and how they take me on glorious adventures. Words spoken, written or sung, I enjoy them all.

When I gave my life to Jesus Christ, and started reading The Holy Bible, a whole new world of words opened up! The verses in the Bible made it clear that these words I thought old and dusty were as relevant today as when they were written so long ago. Words such as these:

"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." ~Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

It was evident that these weren’t ordinary words, these Words were alive with power and purpose! So, I took it to heart when reading 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
 which says, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

I knew He was telling me something so important that it had the power to change me. I read it over and over and claimed it as my own. Could it be true, I didn’t have to live with fear anymore?

F-E-A-R = False Evidence Appearing Real

It was clear that the ‘spirit of fear’ was spiritual warfare and NOT from God because it’s not in the character of the Holy Spirit.

Satan knows that when we’re fearful, we are useless.

An ineffective Christian that Satan doesn’t have to worry about because fear has overpowered and kept from kingdom work. And please know that if you weren’t of any value, that thief wouldn’t bother to steal your worth.

But Satan has no control unless we give it to him.

Did you know there are over 500 diagnosed phobias that speak to every kind of fear?

There’s Ablutophobia (the fear of washing) and Automysophobia (the fear of being dirty). Ecclesiophobia is the fear of churches, and the fear of phobias which you can probably guess is phobophobia.

Whether it’s small spaces, being alone or public speaking…we all have something, or maybe a few things we’re fearful of, but I’d like to suggest that when we’re focusing on fear, we are not focusing on the Lord.

We’ve forgotten that He did NOT give us a spirit of fear but we can be fearless because we have His Power and His Never-ending Love, and we can choose to be in control of our feelings.

That’s the pep-talk Paul was giving Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT), “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

He was stirring up Timothy’s courage and faith because he’d been in ministry for years at this point and was being severely tested by false teachers (Satan) who were challenging his role as a leader in their church. Paul was saying, “Don’t forget who you are, Timothy, and don’t forget whose you are.”

Do our fears manifest because we’ve forgotten this as well?

Are we telling God he’s not enough?

Over the years I’ve overcome many ‘spirits of fear’ with the delivering power of God’s Holy Spirit. I want you to know you can too.

Read what God says in Isaiah 41:13 (NIV), “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. “

We’re not alone in this battle, the Almighty, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has a tight hold on us! I hope that these words give encouragement to fight your fears. Satan lives to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus came so we might have life in abundance (John 10:10), life in the Living Word. 

Let's pray this passage of Scripture Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV) as we close:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” 
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).

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