Sunday, June 30, 2019

Celebrate List Promo Blast for The Certain Hope (book) by E.C. Jackson

Good day, reader friends!

Today, I'm featuring a promo blast for a book by E.C. Jackson. Her book is called The Certain Hope. Here is her book's front cover art:

Isn't the book cover lovely?

Here is the blurb for The Certain Hope:

Love at first sight. It’s every girl’s dream. But Tara Simpkins is finding out it’s not as easy as it seems. Is this truly the man God sent to be her husband, or is she just desperate to escape her loneliness?

The recent loss of both parents has left her reeling, and close friends don’t think she’s in any position to make major life decisions. She and her new-found love are convinced they can live happily ever after in the home of their dreams.

His family thinks he’s moving way too fast and might disappoint the kind-hearted woman he’s fallen head over heels for. And then there’s Leah. Leah is supposed to be part of his past, but what if she decides she’s his future?

Tara’s match made in Heaven may be over before it truly begins.

My Review of The Certain Hope:

When I signed up to read and review this book, I thought that it held a lot of promise. 

The cover art was nice and the blurb for the book was intriguing. However, after the first chapter, I slowly but surely lost interest in the story for several reasons.

The pace was too rushed. The hero and heroine were taking "love at first sight" to a whole new level with references to marriage and moving in together within the first few chapters. 

Then within almost every few pages, the characters were considering marrying each other and dropping hints. I know that in real-life, love at first sight happens but in this fiction story everything seemed too rushed for a relationship that was not fully developed. 

On a positive note, the characters were interesting and likable. But the plot needed to be more fully developed and the pacing needed to be adjusted. 

I cannot give this book more than three stars. But don't be deterred by my review. Just because I didn't really enjoy this story does not mean that you will not. Every reader has their own taste in books.

*I (Alexis A. Goring) received an ARC of “The Certain Hope" from Celebrate Lit. My opinions in this honest review are my own.

Author Bio:
E. C. Jackson began her writing career with the full-length play Pajama Party. 

For three and a half years she published the Confidence in Life newsletter for Alpha Production Ministries, in addition to writing tracts and devotionals.

Teaching a women’s Bible study at her church for eleven years naturally led to her current endeavor of writing inspirational romance novels and teen and young adult fiction. 

Her mission: spiritual maturity in the body of Christ through fiction.

Connect with E.C. Jackson:


Saturday, June 29, 2019

YOU are invited to Bible Boot Camp! It's FREE and available online.

The July 2019 edition of Bible Boot Camp starts on July 1 and continues every morning from 5:00 a.m. (EST) to 5:30 a.m. (EST) until July 31! 

These boot camp sessions are hosted by Pastor Paul Graham via
Full Circle Ministries. 

So "Wake up and stretch your spiritual muscles" every morning this July! 

Join the LIVE sessions here,

Friday, June 28, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Plants and the Master of Deception

The Hose, The Frog, And The Fern
A devotional by Heather Martin

"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes."
–Ephesians 6:11 (NIV)

I love plants!

My husband and I have planted some new things around our yard this summer like some beautiful hydrangeas, waxed leaf ligustrum trees, strawberries, herbs and tomatoes. 

Recently, we decided to hang gigantic Boston ferns from our covered porches.

The most needy of our new plants have proven to be the ferns! They require lots of water, almost every day or else you can quickly notice the leaves will begin to brown and shed. Every day, we do the work to climb in between the bushes that line the side of our house to turn on the hose and bring it up to the porch to water the ferns.

I am always on guard when I step between the bushes, being careful not to unexpectedly tread upon a snake or another creature! As I squeezed through the bushes this time was no different. I reached my hand in to turn on the water, and as I did, I came face to face with a frightened small green frog that was happily hiding behind the gutter that hangs right in front of the water spout.

Frightened, I jumped back as quickly as I could, leaving the hosepipe to do a spraying-water–everywhere-dance! I kept reasoning with myself that I was brave enough to go back in there and turn it off. As I peeked back in behind that gutter where the little frog was, he looked as scared as me and as if he were thinking, “Please don’t see me, please don’t see me.” Anyway, I petitioned my husband to come to the rescue and turn off the hose for me.

Sometimes, things aren’t really what they seem at first glance. Especially in nature! Every day, we probably come into contact with animals and insects that are made to camouflage and so we never see just how close we are to them. Thank goodness it was only a frog, but this little frog got me to thinking about how sneaky Satan is.

Satan is always trying to disguise himself, to camouflage himself into our lives in hopes that we don’t recognize him. He would love for us to believe that he doesn’t even exist!

Just like that little green frog, Satan blends into our lives through our every day activities such as social media, music, TV shows, recreation, food, etc. and he says, “Please don’t see me, please don’t see me.” He is the master of deception and seeks to take over our lives in even subtle ways. It is his aim to permeate every area single area of our lives, through every single sense. And everyone is free game for him.

But there is hope for us because with God’s help, we cannot be deceived!

Here is a short list of ways in which you can identify where Satan might be camouflaging himself in your life:

#1: Shine a light.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” –Psalm 119:105 (NIV). Spend some time reading God's Word (The Holy Bible) every day.

#2: Guard yourself.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” –1 Peter 5:8 (NIV). Pay attention and be aware of people, situations or things that make you feel far from God.

#3: Pray.

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” –Jeremiah 29:12 (NIV). Just like I had to call for my husband to rescue me, we can call on God anytime because He is waiting to help us.

So as you go through your day, know that Satan is looking to blend into your surroundings to cause fear, self-doubt, and to cause you to fall. But be encouraged and ask for God’s protection, it will surround you on every side.

Author Bio:
Heather Martin was born the last of six siblings in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was raised by an amazing single mother (Rebecca Trotter) and was taught at an early age to love God and how to sing! 

She graduated from Oakwood University with a Bachelors Degree in Language Arts Education and later received a Master’s Degree in Education from Kaplan University.

Shortly after graduating she followed God’s call to minister. She joined the Stellar, Dove, and Grammy-nominated gospel group Virtue, which was founded by her two older sisters Ebony Holland and Karima Kibble several years prior. Virtue has used their talents to spread the love of God across the world! They have recorded 7 studio albums and have been the recipients of numerous awards.

God has not only blessed Heather professionally, but personally. She met her husband, Dr. Colin Martin, and they have been married for 14 years. They have four children: Colin Jr. 11, Harper 10, Clark, 7, and Charleston 5. In 2016 Heather started an online blog and vegan and allergen-friendly cooking channel called “Chef Mommy.” Heather (Chef Mommy) has cooked with numerous celebrities and top chefs to spread the news of healthy cooking and lifestyle.

In addition to this busy schedule, Heather enjoys, running, reading, writing and spending time with her family.

Connect with Heather:
Instagram for Heather:
Instagram for Virtue (Heather’s singing group):

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Carrie's thoughts on working for God

Who Is My Boss?
A devotional by Carrie Del Pizzo

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” –Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

I was recently convicted by this verse.

Six months ago, I left my day job and stepped up my freelance editing work to full time. I didn’t make this move lightly. Freelance is risky, so my husband and I prayed long and hard over the decision. With three hungry teenagers to feed, we had to be sure freelance was the direction God was leading me, not the direction I wanted Him to follow me.

When I did make the move, God immediately seemed to bless my efforts, and I was suddenly making more than double what I had made at my day job.

The trade off what this I was working 12- and 14-hour days, but God took care of me. One of my clients hired a second editor to share the load, and this girl is a dynamo. She has lots of energy, really knows her stuff, and has no family to divert her attention.

As soon as she started with the company, she began making changes to the way we did things … the way I did things. She started trying to teach and train me, despite the fact that I am nearly twice her age and have been editing almost as long as she’s been alive.

Her ideas are good, but are they better than mine? You could argue that both ways, but it would be irrelevant. The fact is that the client likes her ideas.

I was faced with a choice: Edit their words the way they want them edited or stick to my communication principles and drop a paying client who clearly didn’t appreciate my skill.

After balancing my checkbook (sigh), I took it to God. If I stopped accepting work from the client, He would have to send me more work to pay my bills.

And then God reminded me that I am working for Him, not the client. That stopped me in my self-absorbed steps.

I’ve read this passage of scripture many times. Slaves are called to do good work for their masters. I was never a slave, so I figured it just meant I was supposed to work hard and be a good employee for my boss.

Now I’m my own boss and I choose my clients. I still perform my duties well. That’s how you get repeat business. But as a freelancer, I have the choice to run my business the way I like. But if God is my boss, I need to do good work for Him.

I looked inside, at my motives. Was I really trying to be a great editor? Or was I trying to soothe my wounded pride that didn’t like being told by a youngster how to do my job? Ouch.

To be honest, I’m still struggling with this one. I don’t always agree with the self-invented style guide of the other editor. But I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not my job to change her.

My job is to provide my client with quality work and a good attitude. In this way, I am doing my work as though I’m serving the Lord. And that’s my only goal.

What about you? Who are you serving? Do you work for your boss as though he or she were Jesus?

Author Bio:
In this world of texts, memes, and emojis, slowing down to truly communicate can feel like straining a muscle you haven’t exercised in far too long.

Seventeen years of business experience across a variety of industries has taught Carrie Del Pizzo the fine art of professional communications. Partnering with corporate executives and entry-level employees alike, she has written and edited major project proposals, direct marketing pieces, sensitive client communications, employee handbooks, and user manuals.

Carrie’s love of literature and story has led her to develop and exercise her fiction writing skills as well. Aside from her personal creative efforts, she also edits for self- and traditionally-published authors and enjoys writing short dramas for church presentation.

Carrie is a wife, mom of three Americans and host-mom to numerous exchange students. Italian-by-marriage means she loves to cook and eat. She lives in Spokane, WA, with her hilarious family, who keeps her in stitches and provides piles of material for great stories.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Potential

Discovering Your True Potential
A devotional by Glynis Becker

“Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”
–Matthew 16:18 (NLT)

Potential. I love the possibilities available with that word. It holds out hope and promise. Has someone ever seen something in you that you didn’t see? Has someone been kind enough to tell you that you’d be good at something and it made you see yourself in a different light?

This summer, we are preparing to send my son to his senior year of high school. As we prepare, I’m feeling grateful that a few years ago a teacher saw something in him that we probably never would have. She gave him the encouragement to try something that has given him direction and focus, as well as a possible career that will help others. Her ability to see his potential, and a few words to tell him that, have made a huge difference in his life.

In the verses above, I love that Jesus Christ gives Peter a hint of the future He sees in him—as a rock, steady enough to build His church on. Peter is one of the most relatable characters in the Bible, because in his weaknesses—his impatience, his temper, his reactions—we see ourselves.

Jesus, being God, has the perfect vantage point to see everything that Peter had been, who he is in that moment, but also who he would become.

Jesus knew Peter would not remain the way he was. He would become a preacher, an evangelist, a foundation for the faith of generations to come.

What must Peter have felt hearing those words from Jesus? To tell a fisherman from Galilee, “I love you. I know you. I see the amazing person you will be as you let Me work through you. What a story you will have to tell!”

What story is Jesus telling through you today? Do you need to hear the encouragement from Him that You are here for a reason? Or is it your turn to speak those words of potential to someone in your life?

So often we want to see the worst in people, especially people who aren’t like us.

Be on the lookout today, making an effort to see the best in someone—maybe an acquaintance, maybe a family member, maybe someone you don’t even really like. Look for a quality or a characteristic or a potential in them. Say something about it. They may not know that they are or could be really good at something.

Your words of encouragement about their potential may change their world!

Let’s Pray: Dear Living God, do a work in each of us today. Give me eyes to see the best in those around me, and myself. Let me live in the grace that You are changing me day by day into the person You see when You look at me. I love You for what you are doing in me! Please give me grace with others who You are working on as well. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Author Bio:
Glynis Becker writes devotions and inspirational fiction, hoping someday to have a published novel on her resume.

She has co-written several screenplays, including the film Sinking Sand, available on DVD and digital streaming.

Glynis, whose childhood was spent all over the country as an Air Force brat, has called South Dakota home for many years, along with her husband and two teenage children.

When she’s not writing or reading, she is watching more television than she should and crocheting. You can find her at

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Interview with Kate Battistelli, author of "The God Dare"

Welcome Kate Battistelli to the blog!

She's here today to talk about her new nonfiction book, The God Dare

Here's the glorious cover of her book:

Here is the official blurb for Kate's book which you can buy online and in bookstores:

The God Dare. Where will you hear it? 

Deep down inside, you know you’re on this planet for a reason. God has a plan in mind just for you. In fact, He chose you for His plan before the foundation of the world. He designed you very specifically for this time and this place, and He’s perfectly equipped you to accomplish His purpose in the earth.

Through engaging and memorable true stories—both biblical and modern—author Kate Battistelli challenges and encourages you to discover how God has specifically designed you for this time in history, your place in the world, your role in His cosmic plan. Once and for all, let go of your fear, worry, pride and strife. . .

All God ever needs is a willing vessel. Will you say yes?


Interview with Kate Battistelli about her NEW book, The God Dare: Will You Choose to Believe the Impossible?

Alexis: What’s the story behind your book’s captivating, bold title?

Kate: Several years ago, God dared me to write my first book and I wasn’t a writer! Here’s how it happened: We had homeschooled our daughter Francesca with a large homeschooling group in Orlando where we lived at the time.

They were getting ready to celebrate their 20th anniversary and asked my husband Mike and I to come speak about what we did to raise our daughter in a way that helped her to find her purpose. By this time, she’d already signed her record deal and her songs were getting lots of airplay. We said “Yes” and came up with 15 intentional things we’d done to raise Francesca to find her destiny in God.

We gave our talk and the next day, I was praying and thanking God for those 15 things and that’s when I heard God speak in my spirit these terrifying words: “Those are book chapters.”

I reminded God that I wasn’t a writer, had no platform or college degree and no way to get it published but I kept hearing Him repeat, “Those are book chapters.” So I found a friend who was a writing coach and showed her my idea and she helped me get the book written and published. I realized God was triple-dog-daring me to step out and do something that made no sense at the time. But it makes total sense now!

Alexis: How did God first place this book as a dream on your heart and how much time did it take to bring that vision to fruition?

Kate: The God Dare started as a simple blog post and a dear friend mentioned I should consider turning it into a book. I began writing it eight years ago and it took a while to get it finished as God had a bit more growing for me to do before He was ready to put it out into the world!

Alexis: You really poured your heart out in this book. Did you find it difficult to be this open and honest with your readers? Why or why not?

Kate: At first, I was terrified to share all of my story in the book. But just last summer, God dared me to put the ugly parts of my past, like having an abortion at age 18, into the book.

It was hard but it’s an issue one out of three women deal with so it’s worth it if my story can give courage to another woman to stop allowing guilt and shame to hold her back and haunt her life. There’s great freedom in exposing our ugly truth and finding freedom in repentance and God’s forgiveness.

Alexis: What is “The God Dare” and how can a person learn to hear it?

Kate: A “God Dare” is that crazy, impossible dream or wild adventure that God is inviting you to join. You know you aren’t equipped but if God calls you to it, He’ll equip you to do it. If you believe God is daring you, typically it will be scary and make you move out of your comfort zone. The best way to hear it is to pray and ask God for confirmation that it’s really Him. Ask a few mature Christians or your pastor to pray with you that God will make it crystal clear. 

Alexis: What life lessons are you hoping that your readers will glean from the content of this book?

Kate: I’m hopeful that folks will realize they are on this planet for a reason, not just to take up space. I believe each of us is here to change the world but we have to choose to be chosen. We can say no if we want to but it’s so much more exciting to bungee-jump into the future with God!

Alexis: Why do you tell your readers that God has a plan made just for them? How can you prove that to those who might read this and still be doubtful?

Kate: If they’re doubtful, they simply need to ask Him. God’s Word (The Holy Bible) says in Hebrews 11:6 (KJV) that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. If you seek Him with all your heart, He will answer you and guide you. But you have to be willing to step out.

Alexis: How has your own faith journey with God impacted the way that you wrote this book?

Kate: The more I’ve gotten to know Him, the more I knew these were the life lessons He was teaching me and He made it quite clear I was to put it all in a book.

Alexis: Did you have a mentor or support system helping you as you wrote this book? If so, how did they assist in birthing your book baby?

Kate: I had some dear friends who would pray for me, a writer’s group at my church and of course my husband and daughter.

Alexis: How has your illustrious background in theater prepared you for writing this book? Share a few insights into your career and passion for Jesus Christ.

Kate: Well, a theatre career is quite different from writing but it prepared me to do it afraid. I learned early on in my theatre career that you aren’t always ready for what life throws at you. I went out as the understudy to the leading lady in the Broadway National Tour of The King and I starring Yul Brynner, a huge star in those days, and took over the lead when the leading lady got sick and left the show. This was in 1981 and I was only 26 at the time and I didn’t know the Lord but He began wooing me even then.

Alexis: What do you believe is your unique role in God’s cosmic plan?

Kate: I believe I’m here to nudge and remind people that they have a purpose and that their lives aren’t random but they are here to change the world. They will have to choose when God dares them but if they say yes to God, they will change the world!

Alexis: What memorable truths has God whispered to your heart as you’ve moved forward in your faith walk with Him?

Kate: I’ll give you a few of my God Dare Secrets:

· The impossible is God’s comfort zone.

· To believe the impossible we must see the invisible.

· We choose whether or not to be chosen to change the world.

· God’s faithfulness will always outlast your failure.

· God sees you according to your destiny, not your history.

· God didn’t bring you this far to only take you this far.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Kate! Would you like to share closing comments?

Kate: Be bold, step out and don’t be afraid to live like Jesus Christ. He gives the greatest God Dare of all when He says, “Follow Me.” God doesn’t call the qualified or the worthy, He calls the willing. He calls the ones who will hear and obey. Lots of small acts of obedience add up to a big, impactful life!

Author Bio:
Kate Battistelli is the author of The God Dare and Growing Great Kids:Partner with God to Cultivate His Purpose in Your Child’s Life.

She is Mom to Grammy Award-winning artist Francesca Battistelli and Mimi to her four children. 

Kate has been married to Mike for 36 years. 

She blogs about faith and food at www.KateBattistelli.comYou can follow Kate on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Blessed

A devotional by Victoria Bylin

“Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.” –Psalm 84:4-7 (NIV)

Have you ever been in a spiritual valley—that place where God seems far away and the mountaintop experience is almost forgotten? I’m pretty sure the answer is “Yes!” In fact, I should probably ask how many valleys you’ve traveled through in your Christian walk, rather than “if.” Valleys are part of our journey as Christ-followers. 

My husband and I have been through more than a few valleys in our lifetime. They usually involved finances, careers, and big moves, but we’ve also grieved loved ones and wept for lost dreams.

More than any other verses in the Bible, the beauty of Psalm 84 brings me comfort. I can still hear the pastor at one of our first churches bellowing from the pulpit, “Blessed men go through the valley.” The key word there is through. A valley comes to an end, and that’s encouraging. But the other key word is blessed.

What does that word really mean? As Christians, we use that word al lot, usually in the context of something good, or an experience—the birth of a child, healing from an illness, even a bargain on a car or new pair of shoes. Those are nice things to have for sure, but the word “blessed” encompasses much more.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses the Greek word makarios. The word “makarios” means to be happy or blissful, but it implies much more than an emotion or a reaction. Blessed is a state of being that’s complete unto itself. It’s not dependent on circumstances, good health, possessions, or anything. It’s a deep contentment that stays with us regardless of our circumstances.

Cancer is a valley. But blessed men and women go through it. We don’t stop being blessed when life gets hard, or even when we lose it and cry and grieve.

Regardless of what is happening externally, we can be at peace internally. Is that easy? No! I’m quite sure many a blessed man and woman has cried their eyes in a hospital room, over a job loss, or at a funeral. I know I have. But as a blessed people, we also have the deepest kind of peace—the knowledge that the Lord is with us in the valley.

This wonderful Psalm talks about making the valley “a place of springs.” Springs refresh us. They provide living water. It’s God’s presence in our lives that enables us to get through tough times. In no way is blessedness dependent on us! It’s a gift from God, and for that I am grateful—both for the valleys and the springs.

Author Bio:
Victoria Bylin is the author of 18 traditionally published romances. Known for tackling difficult subjects with great compassion, she delights in stories that shine the spotlight of God’s love on ordinary men and women facing realistic challenges.

Writing has always been a part of Victoria’s life. As a child, she wrote hundreds of letters and scribbled in journals. As an adult, she worked as a freelance journalist and editor before taking on the challenge of fiction.

She had one goal when she started her first novel: to finish a book-length manuscript, good or bad. That first effort will never see the light of day, but it led to a second manuscript and a sale to Harlequin Historical. Since then, she has written westerns and contemporary romances for both mainstream and Christian publishers, with Together With You winning the 2016 Inspirational Readers Choice Award for Best Contemporary.

Writing is a joy and a challenge for Victoria, but faith, friends and family matter to her far more. She’s a wife, mom, proud grandmother, and a dog-mom to a wacky Jack Russell Terrier. Originally from California, she and her husband currently make their home in Lexington, Kentucky. When she’s not writing, Victoria enjoys long walks, travel, and dark chocolate.

Connect with Victoria:

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: God's Love

Let God’s Love Shine

A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 
–1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV)

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is one of my most favorite books of the Bible. 

The church in Corinth seems to think quite a lot about itself while ignoring some serious errors. Paul corrects them as lovingly as possible. He tells them to get over themselves and to straighten up and fly right, but the way he does it shows that he loves these people and wants what is best for them. He’s sending them Timothy, whom he loves, to help them as well.

When he gets to this passage above, I can imagine he’s writing each example with them in mind. They’ve become all about the show, polishing that exterior with good works and great oratory, but ignoring the interior, the soul that needs to believe, repent of sin, and follow Christ. What a metaphor for modern times! We are so fixed on our outward appearances. Our culture is obsessed with image. We curate our lives through social media, only showing the bits we like or want attention for showing.

It’s one thing to stand behind the counter at a soup kitchen and serve the needy, it’s another to sit at a table and engage someone. I know some dedicated saints who do this so effortlessly and it convicts me in my reluctance. Duty might get you in the door, but love gets you to sit down. And love is what we need to show others. I remind myself of this a lot. If I show up, but don’t really care about the people I’m supposed to be serving then I have missed the point.

When we share the gospel with those around us, are we doing it because we know we should, or do we feel the love for our fellow humans? 

When we interact with people without faith we need to be like Christ, meeting them where they are, approaching them with a loving heart, and sharing the Gospel. This includes the folks we find pretty unlovable. Later in this chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul describes what love is and it isn’t the fluffy stuff that our culture exalts.

When we’re out in the world, I pray that we let God’s love shine through us.

Author Bio:

Christa MacDonald is a 2017 ACFW Carol Award finalist for contemporary Christian fiction.

A native New Englander, she was inspired by her travels through the north woods of Maine to write The Broken Trail, which would become the first in the Sweet River Redemption series published by Mountain Brook Ink.

Christa's writing focuses on the real-life challenges of the modern world, love’s sometimes crooked path, and the redemptive power of Grace.

When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, or attempting something crafty.

She and her husband live with their three kids, two cats, and one dog along the coast of New England. Connect with Christa at

Monday, June 17, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: How to live a life led by The Holy Spirit

The Spirit-Led Life
A devotional by Nanci Rubin

“And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air. and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” 
–Genesis 1:26-27 (KJV)

Every human has three parts: body, soul and spirit. We are made in the likeness of God. Jesus Christ said that God is a Spirit. According to John 4:24 (KJV), “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” 

But how do we as Christ-followers live a life led by God's Holy Spirit?

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering how one can worship and live a Spirit-led life in a world fraught with uncertainty, fear, distrust, pain, suffering and evil pushing against the walls of our hearts.

What exactly does it take to live a sanctified life?

I imagined a state of perpetual prayer and never leaving your prayer closet. When stresses of life began to push us to the edge, we need to learn God’s way of coping. I began to read what God’s Word (The Holy Bible) had to say and I also read commentaries on living a Spirit-led life. My research led me to a few conclusions.

I found in my study many questions that I’d never asked.

Does the Holy Spirit condemn you if you do wrong as a Christian?

No, it’s your spirit that condemns you. God said in His Word that He’d send us a Comforter, The Holy Spirit, who is here to help us, not accuse and condemn. I’m certain all of us have felt the pangs of guilt after we’ve erred. Don’t condemn yourself, make the correction then and ask the Father to forgive you. He will. We need not carry so much guilt because God sent His Spirit to help show us the way.

According to 
John 14:16 (AMP), Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby) that He may remain with you forever.” 

We need to become more conscious of the fact that we are spirit beings, and not just physical or mental beings.

We spend a lot of time on our physical bodies. We diet. We purchase products that make outlandish claims to ensure we look a certain way. We study and make higher education beyond necessity. Often, we place tremendous burdens on our youth by pushing them further than many can go. Even our educational system stresses the importance of having the best grades along with being accepted to the best schools. 

The point that I’m making is, we neglect our spirit while we build our physical and mental beings. There are rules by which you can develop and train your own human spirit. Practice them until they become a part of your day just as bathing and brushing your teeth. Once you incorporate them, living a Spirit-led life will become much easier.

Rule #1 is to meditate on the Word. I read somewhere that if you ever want to do anything great in life, take time to meditate on the Word of God. In other words, think about His Word.

Rule #2 is to practice the Word. There are many “talkers” of the Word but not many “doers” of the Word. We are admonished by God as it is written in James 1:22 (KJV) to be doers of the Word. “But be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” You cannot be a doer of the Word and continue to talk unbelief. Speak faith.

Rule #3 is to give the Word first place in your life. There are rich dividends for giving God’s Word first place in your life. His Word is alive and is medicine to our bones.

According to Hebrews 4:12 (KJV), “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

In Proverbs 4:20-22 (KJV) it is written, “My son attend to my words, incline thine ear to my sayings. Let them not depart eyes, keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.”

Rule #4 is to instantly obey the voice of your spirit.

The human spirit has a voice. We call that voice conscience. When we get saved and experience the New Birth, our conscience is quickened. We gradually begin to recognize what has always been there. We were born knowing intuitively right from wrong. Before salvation, The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and reveals to us our need for forgiveness and that Jesus is the answer to the forgiveness. After salvation, The Holy Spirit literally comes and resides in us. He is our Counselor and Guide, pointing us to Jesus Christ.

If you have had the privilege of meditating in God’s Word, practicing His Word putting His Word first then The Holy Spirit who lives within you (1 Corinthians 6:19), is an authoritative guide.

If you follow these four rules and practice them, after a while you can know the will of God even in the minor details of life. 

I hope that you have found these rules to be helpful as you strive for success in life and seek to live a Spirit-led life.

Author Bio:
Nanci is a poet and short story writer published in Cypress News, Family Times E-Zine, Free Verse and the Commonwealth of Poetry

She belongs to RWA, ACFW, and Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild where she’s enrolled in his novel writing program.

Nanci lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and cats, Romeo and Juliette, along with their newest member of the family, Roni who is a seven-month-old Goldendoodle.

Recently, Nanci completed her debut novel, A Betrayal in Cross Keys. It is an Amish romance that she has placed in her agent's capable hands. The rest is up to God.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Dreams

Devastated but Determined
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“…Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” ~Habakkuk 2:2 (KJV)

Dreams have no deadline, but inspiration has a gestation period.

Have you ever awakened with a vibrant idea that could lead to greatness but were too busy to write it down and pursue it? I have. Several times. Alfred North Whitehead wisely said that, “Ideas won’t keep. Something must be done about them.”

The first step in nurturing creativity is to write down good ideas as soon as you can after it is perceived. Write with as much detail and clarity as possible. Later, review what you wrote and expand on the idea. If you do not, the power and clarity of the inspiration will fade. I am actually, smarting from the loss of a good idea that recently faded due to my own proclivity to distraction.

I woke up one day about two years ago, inspired, with a book in my spirit. Immediately, I wrote the introduction and outlined 12 chapters. It was to be a short, small book about first aid for injured relationships. I would think about it, ponder thoughts and write, occasionally, but soon, I lost the muse.

I regained the passion this year, in March. I wrote diligently on my iPad, saved each addition and almost finished the book. Then, I got distracted, again. When I went back to the file, it was gone. All that was left of my work was the original outline. Devastated does not begin to express how I felt.

Procrastinating when inspired is a bad and costly habit. The book that I was working on, once completed, may or may not have sold a million copies. The cost, however, of losing it, is not counted in money, but in the content, context and currency of the soul.

Last week I stood among the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus, in Turkey. Among the artifacts of the ancient city was found and displayed a marble fresco honoring the ancient, mythological, goddess Athena. Athena was a fierce and ruthless warrior. Victory was her slogan.

The marketing gurus of the popular sports brand, Nike, extracted their logo, the swoosh, from that fresco and the legend of Athena. Her sense of immediacy in battle was condensed into the marketing slogan, “Just do it!”

When noble inspiration strikes you, don’t delay or procrastinate. Just do it! Write it down so that others may learn from it, advance it and grow.

The lyrics of the third stanza of the rousing ballad “Lift Every Voice and Sing” capture the pathos of lost inspiration: 
“Stony the road we trod/bitter the chastening rod/felt in the day that hope unborn had died…”

Dreams unpursued that lay stagnant in our souls are often reabsorbed into the cosmic nexus of inspiration, to be shared with a different responsive spirit, or die stillborn in our souls. When a woman miscarries a baby, it must be extracted lest the decay within challenge her continued existence. What happens when inspiration dies inside? The soul becomes putrefied and withers.

However, praise be upon him, God, the ultimate muse, is a restorer. God believes in and generates new beginnings. A lost opportunity is not the end of life. It should be instructive and act as an igniter when a new muse whispers.

Be assured that the next book that God inspires in my spirit will be written. The next noble impetus in my soul will be acted upon, quickly. May the same determination that I feel be your experience as well.

Go forth and conquer. Your success is conditioned by your response to inspiration. Just do it! Do it now and complete what you started.

Author Bio:

Chaplain Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps.

Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Columbia Union College (WAU) in Takoma Park, Maryland. He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees–a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Thankful Thursdays: HOPE Eternal

It’s Thursday and I’m thankful for HOPE but not the kind of fleeting hope of the heart for things we want to have or experience here on Earth…I am thankful for the eternal hope that only accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior can give you.

What brought this on, you may ask?

So glad you asked! The answer is reflection. I’ve been reflecting on words about life and death that I’ve heard over the years and I’ve been thinking about what to say in response that would help people understand why there is hope eternal available to us but we have accept Jesus into our lives to have it.

My reflections that led me to write this blog post today are several. I remembered that one day in my first career as an educator, there was a teacher who told his students something that I still recall today. A student complained to the teacher about something he did that the student thought was unjust. The student cried out, “But that’s not fair!” to which the much older teacher who had been seasoned by life responded, “Life’s not fair and then you die!”

I also recall that time in the teacher’s lounge at a school where I as a substitute teacher (I worked as a "sub" before studying to become a full-time teacher). We were on lunch break. The conversation amongst the teachers in the lounge was about how to live longer and one of the male teachers who walked in on the conversation told his colleagues with a side helping of cynicism, “Everybody dies!” Then he walked out.

Finally, I recall a conversation that I had as an adult with an older friend. She told me that she doesn’t believe in life after death. She believes that after you die, that’s it ... No resurrection by Jesus Christ, no hope of Heaven or fear of hell. So she makes the most of every day because she believes that life is precious.

Now, what is wrong with these scenarios and real-life views? To the people who believe these views nothing is wrong with it for them because everybody is entitled to believe what they want. However, as a person whose life has been not only saved but enriched by a relationship with Jesus Christ, I cannot imagine what it’s like to live with no hope eternal.

I cannot imagine that I’d never see my loved ones who have died again because of the theory that there’s no life after death. I cannot imagine going through all the trials and tribulations here on Earth then knowing that after I die there’s no hope of Jesus Christ returning to Earth to take His faithful followers home to Heaven where we will live with Him in healthy, immortal bodies forever. I cannot imagine that God will not do what He says He will do in His Word (The Holy Bible). I cannot imagine God not keeping His promises to give us eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16) because the Bible says that God does not lie
(Numbers 23:19) like we as mere mortals do sometimes.

Even before dying, I cannot imagine living without the hope in Jesus Christ that helps me survive and keeps me alive. He protects me from so much. He gives me hope in seasons of despair. He adds to my quality of life and helps me love others and treat others the way that I would want to be treated.

A verse that came to my mind when I was reflecting on all of this today is found in
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NIV) where followers of Jesus Christ are admonished to not grieve as those who “have no hope.” It addresses the grief process that we all experience when a loved one dies. Before closing, I’d like to share the entire passage with you:

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

In the midst of my reflections, God impressed me with a personal lesson. He showed me that when situations in my life or in the world around me become overwhelming and I feel like I’m sinking into despair, I should NOT feel hopeless. 

I realized that I have a choice: I can allow the issues of life to overwhelm me and feel hopeless OR I can choose to trust God who is Lord over ALL as I remember that no situation is ever hopeless because He is our Eternal Hope.

Please note: If any of you are dealing with chronic illness, depression, despair or any problem that makes you feel like you’re in the dark then do not only pray about, ask God to lead you to a medical professional who can help you. I’ve heard it said many times in real life and on social media that “It’s okay to talk to Jesus (Christ) and a therapist!” Don’t think that you have to handle the storms of life alone. You don’t! You have God and you can be under the care of people who God’s gifted on this Earth to be professional doctors, counselors, therapists, nutritionists, personal trainers…all to help you in every area of life!

In closing, I’d like to share this beautiful song by Terrian. It’s called “God with Us.” 

I hope that her kind, soothing voice will bless your heart and that the message in this song will help you get a glimpse of hope eternal!


Alexis A. Goring
Founder of "God is Love" blog

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Hope

Had I Not Believed

A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.”
 –Psalm 27:13-14 (AMP)

In a recent conversation with my sister-in-law, she shared with me a heart-to-heart talk she'd had with her son. In their private moments together, Jan’s twenty-something child expressed a deep concern for the world.

“Mom,” Jan recounted his words, “I’m afraid that the world may not exist when I am your age.”

A resident of San Francisco, my nephew had been experiencing the destruction of California’s Camp Fire. According to National Public Radio’s news coverage on November 20, 2018, the blaze was called “the deadliest and most destructive, destroying more than 13,000 residences, as well as 514 commercial structures and more than 4,000 other buildings.” At that time, the death toll was 83. This fire left San Francisco with possibly the most polluted air in the world at that time.

“He is a worrier,” Jan shared. “But the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

I’ve reflected on that conversation many times, feeling sorrow for such a heavy burden on my nephew’s mind. For him, what began as grief over horrific losses, by worry, had become fear of the end of the world! What an overwhelming feeling!

God shares His love and concern for us throughout Scripture, telling us not to worry. Like a parent to a young child He says, “I am with you.” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV). “I will not leave you as orphans.” (John 14:18 ESV). “I am head over all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11 ESV). He tells us to cast all anxieties on Him (1 Peter 5:7 ESV) because He cares for us.

God gives us a solution to our fear, yet we choose to worry. Worry that grows sorrow into feelings of hopelessness. Rather than giving God our worries, we are choosing hopelessness.

Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology defines “hope” with these words: To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future. This definition shows “hope” as a projection of positive thinking into future events, while hopelessness projects negativity into the future. Hope says, “Better is coming!” While hopelessness mumbles, “Things will never change.”

How do we change our thoughts from hopelessness to hopeful? By choice…by evaluating all the information available rather than just focusing on the negative….by factoring God into the equation rather than excluding Him.

God’s command not to worry indicates that we have control over our minds. So, while we don’t have control over the events of this world, we do have control over how we think of them. We can choose not to worry. We can choose not to despair. We can choose to tell God that we are saddened by tragic affairs but are grateful that He is caring for us as a loving parent for a helpless child.

The Amplified version of Psalm 27:13-14 is wonderfully encouraging in using the words that echo the definition of hope: “wait for” and “confidently expecting.” I love the undertones of confidence! The Bible says, “I would have despaired, but I was too busy believing in God’s goodness.” (Psalm 27:13-14 AMP)

Hope does not ignore that there is ugliness and tragedy in this world. It does not slap a happy face on a sad and frightening experience. Hope looks at the world’s pain and says, “I have the courage to believe in God and He is working this out.” Had I not believed, I would feel hopeless!

I pray for us today, that we cast away worry in exchange for hope!

Author Bio:

Sharon Musgrove is a self-proclaimed sociologist. The opportunities opened to her, over the years, have led her on a fascinating journey observing human behavior.

She has a diverse background in business, fitness and health industries. This background led her to a unique position writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both recovery programs served women primarily from the homeless community.

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She's been privileged to participate in Leadership camps for maturing young women. These annual camps have a mission of encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young Maasai girls.

Easily identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she's served, Sharon now sees all people as needing more encouragement regardless of cultural or socioeconomic status. Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys her garden, health food, travel, and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. They have two grown children. Currently, Sharon is writing her first Christian historical fiction novel utilizing her study, experience, and understanding of self-destructive behaviors.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Marathons

The Marathons of Life

A devotional by Amanda Wen

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” 
–Romans 15:4 (ESV)

The marathon is one of the most impressive feats of human athleticism and endurance. Though I’ve been a runner for a few years now, I’ve never attempted one, or anything even remotely close. My “endurance challenges” have taken place in the form of 5K and 10K races (3.1 and 6.2 miles, respectively). And while some run for time, or even to win, I run merely to finish, regardless of time or place. (Have I mentioned I’m not a natural athlete?)

But no matter the distance of the race you’re running, some of the most welcome sights along the course are those volunteers who hand out cups of water and packages of energy goop. When strength flags, motivation wanes, and you wonder why in the world you ever thought this was a good idea, that smiling face, cup of cold water, or sweet, delicious energy gel restores, refreshes, and energizes. It keeps you going and makes you think maybe you can run a few more steps after all.

The comparisons between running a marathon and making it through a challenging season of life are inevitable. Whether it’s completing your education, surviving the sleepless nights of a new baby, suffering through a scary medical situation, or simply waiting for the next chapter in life to start, endurance is the name of the game. But God has promised that we do not run our race alone. Over and over in His word, He promises never to leave or forsake us. He instructs us not to fear, because He is with us. His presence is enough to get us through life’s most difficult and painful times, even when it feels like it is not.

One of the ways God reminds us of His presence is by using other people to do so.

As I’ve gone through several challenging months, I’ve received those cups of cold water and packages of energy goop in the form of pep talks from friends, encouragement from family, and even songs on the radio that speak directly to my heart. Seemingly every time I need a breath of fresh air, or a gulp of the proverbial Gatorade, God provides that. It’s rarely the same thing, and it’s rarely the same source, but it’s always exactly what I need to hear at that particular moment in time. 

Always, I’m reminded that God hasn’t forgotten me, and His plans for me are still in effect. And it also reminds me to be that smiling, encouraging race course volunteer for someone else…to let God’s encouragement flow through me and bless someone else who might need a little refreshment.

If you’re going through something difficult right now, I pray that you’ll endure, and that you’ll have eyes to see those race course volunteers. And if you’re not in a challenging season at the moment, to whom can you deliver some refreshment and cheer today?

Author Bio:
Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of contemporary inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. 

A first place winner in the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, she also placed first in the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, the 2017 Great Expectations Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, among others. In addition, she was a finalist in the 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest.

Amanda is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and regularly contributes author interviews for their Fiction Finder feature. She’s also been spotted onstage with the worship team at recent ACFW conferences. Amanda is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

In addition to her writing, Amanda maintains an active and rewarding career as a freelance cellist, frequently performing with symphony orchestras, string quartets, and her church’s worship team. She lives in the Midwest with her amazing husband and their three adorable and hilarious Wenlets.

Connect with Amanda:

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Interview with Ann Malley about her NEW novel, "Rodeo King"

Let's welcome Ann Malley to the blog! 

She's an author published by Winged Publications which is the same company that published my most recent two books!

Today, she's here to talk about a book that's close to my heart because I loved it that much! Her story is called Rodeo King and it's a romance that leaves a lasting impression on the heart of the reader.

Here's the book cover photo:

Isn't her book cover captivating? Look at all those wide open spaces in Montana! 

The woman on the book cover is Leigh Ann Lacie (heroine of the story).

Best of all, ONE of you will receive an e-copy of this book to download to your Kindle for FREE because the author has agreed to a book giveaway contest! 

Remember to enter the giveaway contest via the Rafflecopter widget that is located at the end of this blog post.

Enjoy the interview! God bless you.


Interview with Ann Malley about her book, Rodeo King:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this book?

Ann: Rodeo King began as a lifeline, a means to stay sane during difficult times. Moved to action by my absolute bestie and long-time critique partner, I picked up the fiction writing that I’d abandoned to homeschool and manage endless cross country moves. Our family wasn’t moving after all. We were stuck in cramped temporary housing that lasted 36 months instead of three, limited to one car, and facing down the “hot” prospect of being redirected to any part of these United States or abroad for my husband’s next position. (Hurry up and wait works best when one has a pen and a mind to take a mental holiday!)

I would have taken anything to avoid that three-year helicopter hiatus. And yet God works as He wills. The particulars of when and where are strictly His domain. We didn’t move again. Well, not across country, but to our own home in Northern Virginia. SIGH! But Harlequin closed their western line. So I dug deeper and transformed Rodeo King into an inspired romance that touches the heart in a way I understood from personal experience. (Conflict and dark moments aren’t limited to romantic love.) And I decided to make Leigh Ann’s struggles a little more personal, something to which I could relate and I hope you will, too.

Alexis: What is the significance of your book’s title, Rodeo King?

Ann: I wanted Frank to represent man at the pinnacle of success, the king of all he surveys. At least that’s what he believes prior to encountering his high school sweetheart. It’s the small things that often trip us up, memories we can’t shake, feelings left unresolved. The Rodeo King is no exception. And Providence has its way with us all, even kings.

Alexis: Let’s talk about the heroine of your story, Leigh Ann Lacie. What does she look and sound like? What is her secret hope? What is her greatest dream? What does she love? What or who makes her mad?

Ann: Beneath a sassy exterior, Leigh Ann looks and sounds like that sad, seasoned friend you wish you could set up with the right guy. She’s only 33, but thanks to a past she refuses to unpack, she’s determined to move ahead. Alone. Unloved. And convinced she’ll never achieve that happily-ever-after she’s longed for as a child of a broken home. Her greatest dream, not that she realizes it, is to form her own legacy of love where she’s accepted for who she is, but one where her unspoken needs are met. She loves children—the hope for the future. If anything, she’s mad at herself for not having made that discovery long before she married the man who’s now left her widowed and somewhat jaded. But having wasted too many years, she’s determined to seek her dreams now, and not allow others to alter their course for fear they’ll harbor the same regrets that are breaking her heart.

Alexis: What’s Leigh Ann’s backstory and how does it affect her outlook on life?

Ann: The product of a disruptive mistake-of-a-marriage, Leigh Ann looks upon life as an antagonist (at least for herself). She’s determined to protect herself from all manner of pain. She doesn’t appreciate being the subject of Wild Horse Montana’s evening news, even if the broadcasting system is limited to Main Street Mercantile gossips. She prefers the anonymity of city living. And yet, when circumstances draw her back home, she can’t deny the satisfaction of returning to the scene of so much childhood drama only to discover that she’s been truly missed. By people who care enough to seek details and not only for something to talk about.

Alexis: Describe the setting of your story “Wild Horse, Montana.” What makes it special for your characters?

Ann: Wild Horse, Montana is a purely fictional town, one that embodies the spirit of big sky country…Big dreams…Family values…And, of course, the vestige of isolation that can give way to the heightened scrutiny of small town living. But small towns can grow just like people. Wild Horse, despite its distance from big cities and burgeoning industry, is finding itself increasingly on the map. This character of sorts will interact with those living the town as the series progresses, challenging everyone to expand much like when people we love change, requiring a different outlook to keep the ties that bind firmly in place.

Alexis: Let’s talk about the hero of your story, Frank Ferguson. What does he look and sound like? What is his worst fear? What or who is his heart’s desire?

Ann: Frank, as we’ve discussed, is the king of all he surveys. His parents didn’t raise him that way, but Providence deigned it would be so. That’s why, contrary to popular opinion, he doesn’t have the big head that Leigh Ann imagines. Quite the opposite. Beset by his own self-recriminations, Frank’s worst fear is that he’ll fail his family, and fail to live up to Leigh Ann’s high expectations. Although it’s masked for self-preservation, his heart’s desire is to settle down with the one woman who’s rejected him since day one, at least where it counts. His rise to rodeo fame came about after Leigh Ann rejected his teen-aged marriage proposal. But even a king can’t always get what he wants.

Alexis: What is it about Leigh Ann that is irresistible to Frank?

Ann: Frank is admittedly drawn to Leigh Ann by the challenge she represents. Competing is what he does for a living. And Leigh Ann is a beautiful woman, more alluring for having matured into life with grace, dignity, and an unwavering strength that he can’t help but admire. His attraction to her goes far deeper as he sees a part of himself in her, a vulnerability that thirsts for family and love without strings. The unconditional acceptance given to him by his family – a gift he’d be lost without – is something he longs to share with Leigh Ann. And he will, whether she reciprocates or not.

Alexis: Why did Leigh Ann reject Frank’s marriage proposal years ago?

Ann: Unlike Frank, Leigh Ann wasn’t reared in the bosom of love and kindness. She’s seen betrayal up front: broken dreams, forgotten promises, and the worst—love turned to loathing. She did love Frank. She loved him enough to let him go. That charity, though seemingly cruel, was a means to preserve the one good thing she had growing up. Seeing him now, unmarried despite his name having appeared in countless news stories associated with other women, she knows she did right. Fame is what Frank truly wanted, not the wife and family that would only tie him down and turn him sour.

Alexis: How does Frank feel when Leigh Ann re-enters his life but doesn’t want anything to do with him and what is he doing about it?

Ann: Frank isn’t surprised when Leigh Ann adopts a frosty demeanor. Her fiery temperament often expressed itself in coolness, but that was something he’d always been able to break through in the past. He secretly enjoyed the spats they used to have, although he’d never say as much, for fear that Leigh Ann would believe he was mocking her. Her parents’ infamous bouts were no joke. But Frank isn’t about to let Leigh Ann get under his skin this time. He’s determined to treat her in kind, be kind, but be cool. He can’t make her love him. But muscle memories are difficult to control, and so is the urge to uncover what’s still hurting the woman he’ll always consider a dear friend despite her angry armor.

Alexis: Why does Leigh Ann behave adversely to fame?

Ann: Leigh Ann considers fame to be a third wheel in marriage, a mistress of sorts that demands ever-increasing attention. For those who seek fame via extreme sports, the courtship involves a death dance as thrills are harder to come by. That spells anathema to a long-term love affair. For Leigh Ann has no desire to compete for a husband’s affections or give her heart to anyone who treats their life – or her love – so lightly.

Alexis: What is it about Frank that warms Leigh Ann’s heart and why does she fight her feelings for him?

Ann: Despite guarding herself, Leigh Ann can’t ignore Frank’s readiness to learn, love, and be there for his family. Yes, he was wrapped up in being the Rodeo KING, something she commented on in the stinging column about him that got her fired, but that hasn’t prevented him from humbling himself. He’s there for his family and for her, no strings attached when circumstances require. But he’s still in love with his work. Frank was born to ride, to risk, and maybe to die. Leigh Ann can’t afford to be a widow again. Her heart can’t take it. And even if Frank gave up riding, the knowledge that she can’t give him the family of his own that he still talks about keeps her guarded. She knows too well what it’s like to hunger after something you can’t have and she won’t limit Frank.

Alexis: What was your favorite moment in this story? Why?

Ann: My favorite – absolute favorite – scene in the story is where Leigh Ann struggles to soothe little David when he’s crying for his mother. Frank walks in and the resulting action is exactly the opposite of what she expects. I get misty just thinking about it. Why? There’s a lot of me in this book. I have six sisters and have had so many examples of what it means to be a woman with all manner of nuanced differences. That said, I’m pretty partial to the balloons scene as well. You’ll have to read Rodeo KING to find out what I mean!

Alexis: If you could step into this story as a licensed counselor and have a session with Frank and Leigh Ann, what would you say to help them resolve their issues with each other?

Ann: I’d ask them both, “What do you want now? Tell me without any reference to the past.”

Then I would encourage them to look to one another as they are today without the baggage. But that’s the trick. We all carry baggage and our eyes and minds are often clouded by it. That’s why we continue to unpack such similar situations across the span of our lives. The ability to move forward only happens when we’re willing to throw out those items we’ve outgrown.

As Christians, we are told to forgive one another, but often we forget to include ourselves in that number. But if we’re to succeed in loving one another as we love ourselves, there can be no true measure if we continue to beat ourselves up with a past we cannot change.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about Rodeo King?

Ann: I don’t know, Alexis. That’s a tough one as I firmly believe that the measure of what one gets out of something is based on what is brought to the situation. Perhaps the take away is an openness to trying and never giving up hope. Leigh Ann and Frank had to become open to the prospect of trying with each other and with the circumstances presented to them. We give up too often – on ourselves and others – relying on fixed ideas instead of what God has planned. I’m glad that Leigh Ann and Frank gave way to grace and accepted the reality that happily ever after is a possibility. That’s the first step to finding it.

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

Ann: I’d like to thank you, Alexis, for a tough interview. I feel like I’ve spent the morning on the therapist’s couch or in a protracted discernment with my spiritual director. Both can be very good things. Difficult, but well worth the effort as the answers found therein make one live more fully and open the door for true encounters.

Author Bio:
A believing Christian, seasoned by Providence, Ann writes about real women battling their way to a happily ever after. 

Deadly situations that demand faith and perseverance feature in her romantic suspense stories. While personal demons, the kind that only faith and honest self-reflection can defeat, fill the pages of her sweet contemporary romance.

Tucked securely inside the National Capital’s outer reaches, Ann keeps busy when not writing with her husband of 32 years, three grown kids, and a little kitty named Boo.

She’s a member of RWA, FHL, ACFW, and Inked Voices.

Find out more at

Book blurb for Rodeo King:
Widowed too young, childless, and hurting for money, Leigh Ann Lacie leaves the city behind and travels back to her home town of Wild Horse, Montana. 

She hadn’t planned to bump into her high school sweetheart Frank Ferguson, now the famed Rodeo King. Fame is something she never wanted. It killed her husband.

Frank never quite got over Leigh Ann’s rejection when he proposed marriage all those years ago. Though he’s riding high on his career as a rodeo star, he’s bitter at her return. When his flighty sister dumps her twin toddlers on him, Frank makes Leigh Ann an offer she can’t refuse: to care for the children in exchange for financial aid.

Leigh Ann won’t rekindle the rocky romance with her old flame, but she has a secret reason for needing money – a secret that would devastate Frank if he knew.

As for Frank, he lives for a challenge. He won’t rest until he learns what brought Leigh Ann back to Wild Horse – and why she wants to leave again…

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